By Temple Li

New Jersey State Assemblyman Kevin Rooney has spent over 20 years in public service, being elected and re-elected, on several occasions, to the Wyckoff Township Committee. He has also held the positions of mayor and deputy mayor; he was the Mayor of Wyckoff as recent as 2016.  Additionally, Rooney has led a successful career in business, serving as vice-president for a multi-state company, and now being a partner in HMS Global Holdings.

Throw in the mix, that he is currently running in the state assembly race in Legislative District 40, with his election on Tuesday. Rooney’s GOP running mates are standouts like him. Christopher DePhillips, who is running for the other District 40 Assembly seat, is also a former Wyckoff mayor and committeeman – and he is a well respected Garden State attorney. Incumbent State Senator Kristen Corrado is the pair’s senate running mate. Hailing from Totowa, Corrado is a very popular Passaic County leader, having served multiple terms as the Passaic County Clerk; she is also a lawyer.

The group has been working tirelessly to ensure that District 40 remains with Republican leadership. Although their Democrat opponents – Thomas Duch, Christine Ordway and Paul Vagianos – have not gained much traction in their quest to become elected state legislative officials, the GOP candidates take nothing for granted – and are not over-confident in their 2017 election journey. They’ve been noted for seven-days-a-week campaigning.

The Democrats are formidable in career backgrounds. Duch is a former state assemblyman and former Mayor of Garfield. Ordway is a CPA who previoulsy worked for a large accounting firm. Vagianos teaches at Manhattan College, and owns a small restaurant in Ridgewood. However, they are out of touch with the vast majority of voters in New Jersey’s District 40. They favor socialized healthcare, and have tax plans that are in line with those of Phil Murphy and Nancy Pelosi – which means that they want to re-distribute wealth, and that hurts hard working taxpayers. They are not favorable to Second Amendment rights, and even denounced a gun range in Wayne.

Corrado, Rooney and DePhillips, on the other hand, are in lock step with the needs of the District 40 constituency. On their website, they state:

“Despite spending $35 billion dollars a year, our state government is failing at nearly everything.

  • Property taxes are crushing middle class families and forcing senior citizens to make the devastating decision to leave their homes, family and friends to move to more affordable states.
  • Property taxes are also making it hard for young people, Millennials, to afford their first home; as a consequence New Jersey is losing many of its brightest young, talented people.
  • Businesses are fleeing New Jersey, which has one of the worst business climates in the nation. There is too much regulation, too many layers of government and too many rules to follow in New Jersey.
  • Our state’s infrastructure is a national disgrace; our roads and bridges are falling apart — many have been deemed unsafe by civil engineers.
  • Our state employee pension system is a $70 billion dollar ticking time bomb that threatens to bankrupt the state. In fact, Moody’s Investor service recently downgraded New Jersey’s credit rating AGAIN largely because of the state’s pension problems that were created 20 years ago.”

In making these firm statements, Corrado, Rooney and DePhillips have demonstrated that they understand these pressing problems and have plans to remediate them.  They have stressed that they want to “make it fair to taxpayers.” And helping veterans, while creating more jobs for New Jerseyans, are stated top priorities for them.

The District 40 Republican candidates’s website clearly – and passionately – lays out their issues. Their Democrat adversary’s website, however, does not appear to present specifics about their stances, although in an October 5 press release from them they promised that an issues page would be found on the site. Duch even stated in the press release, “We want residents of the 40th District to know where we stand on the issues. While we have released many of our ideas and solutions, the page is by no means comprehensive. New Jersey has many problems. We focus on 10 key issues on our site.” If the specified “10 key issues” are on the Democrats site, they are difficult to locate as this publication was unable to access them after repeated attempts.

In addition to their strong, position-oriented campaign and relentless constituent outreach during the campaign cycle, each Republican candidate has spent considerable time furthering their other commitments related to their service. Rooney, for example, just this past week announced plans to extend his persistent dedication to a obviating a drug pandemic that seemingly is rampant throughout New Jersey and America (a pandemic that District 40 has not escaped). The assemblyman has joined forces with” A Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey” to share information about the link between prescription painkillers and heroin.

“Our goal is to have teachers, coaches, and parents use this information to discuss the epidemic with their students and children,” said Rooney. “If we can teach families and communities about the known pathways to addiction, we can stop this rising epidemic which has impacted us all.

“There is a stigma attached to addiction – parents think it could never happen to their child, or they may be afraid to confront the fact their loved one has a problem. But addiction is a disease, and no one is immune,” continued Rooney. “For far too many people, addiction begins at home in the medicine cabinet. It’s important for families to understand how dangerous unused painkillers can be.”

Rooney has made fighting the opioid crisis a priority during his public service tenure. As mayor of Wyckoff, he was instrumental in obtaining a permanent medicine drop box in the township. As an assemblyman, he introduced legislation highlighting a rising trend in addicts using their pets to access prescription painkillers.

“Take inventory of the medicines in your home, dispose of any unused, unwanted and expired medicine, secure the medicines you keep, remember to take your prescription as directed, and speak to children about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs,” he said. “There isn’t a family or community immune from the disease of addiction, and a message of opioid abuse prevention, awareness and education to all NJ families, in all venues, is lifesaving,”

So, bravo to Rooney and his efforts. They likely will be one of the many reasons why he and his GOP companions will be celebrating next Tuesday when their election results will be tallied. Also because they want nothing more than to lower the tax burden for the hard working residents of their communities – a position that their Democrat opponents do not seem to understand.