Here’s why we enthusiastically endorse Melissa Brown Blaeuer for LD26 Assembly:
The “County Line” in primary election ballots: Being placed in a preferential ballot position unfairly benefits some candidates and disadvantages others. Recognizing the outsize influence of the “county line” primary election ballots on the outcomes of elections, and the considerable voter confusion that they cause, I will support changing the NJ primary ballot to an “Office Bloc” design as is used in every other state and in some counties in NJ (see http://ggcnj.org/resolution for more information).
Comment: I further support providing candidate information and web URLs on the back of sample ballots mailed before the Primary and General Elections to help voters become acquainted with their choices before voting.
Ballot Order: Following best practices in 16 states, I will support implementing a rotational ballot order system that ensures to the greatest extent possible that no candidate is advantaged over other candidates on the basis of their ballot placement by enabling all candidates running for the same office to receive first and subsequent ballot positions an equal number of times (see http://ggcnj.org/resolution for more details).
Comment: Alphabetical ordering of other candidates or a lottery draw ordering those who are appearing for the first time would also serve the same fairness principle.
Voter access: I support adopting parts of H.R.1 in New Jersey in order to increase voter participation, ensure access to the ballot box, and strengthen elections, including specifically same day registration, early voting and a paper trail for machine voting that enables verification.
Comment: I enthusiastically support automatic voter registration using integrated government systems to ensure current, accurate voter name, address, party affiliation, vote-by-mail preference, and if deceased.
Ethics reform: I support ethics reforms that would require broader disclosure of financial information and the release of income taxes by candidates for county-level and state-level public office, as a means of transparency.
Campaign funding: I support the public funding of campaigns for all state-level elected offices (i.e., the state legislature and gubernatorial elections).
Comment: Quality candidates unbeholden to special interests and with clear platforms are vital to the integrity of our governing process and the promotion of civic engagement.
Redistricting: I support placing a nonpartisan commission in charge of the legislative redistricting process.
Comment: Partisan commissions cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of the general public or the greater good with fairness and impartiality, or to uphold equal protection and other rights guaranteed by the state and federal Constitutions. Might does not make right.
Public Advocate: I support passing legislation to reinstate the statewide Office of the Public Advocate that was eliminated in 2010.
Comment: Where partisan polarity exists due to the abuse of media and free speech, a voice of reason that is demonstrably impartial and close to the letter of the law is vital to help ensure that good governance takes precedence over partisan aggression, favoritism and destructive gamesmanship.
Posting of bills: I support requiring bills to be posted a minimum of 72hrs prior to voting in the legislature, to allow legislators to read bills thoroughly and obtain feedback from the public.
Comment: It seems absurd, as well as disingenuous maneuvering, that this is not already a best practice. All legislators are presumed by the public to be familiar with and accountable for their votes and the positions they take.
Legislative meetings: I support making all committee meetings accessible to the public for attendance and testimony by online means (e.g., via zoom) and streaming of voting sessions even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, to increase availability and transparency of government.
Comment: A type of C-SPAN for the New Jersey public sounds like a great idea. It is a disservice to taxpayers and citizens to only make this information available after the fact.
Full time legislature: I support making the state legislature full-time and prohibiting the simultaneous holding of other paid positions, so as to eliminate conflicts of interest and sources of influence and pressure on state legislators.
Comment: This may create hardship for an average citizen seeking office who is not independently wealthy, but may own a businesses or have longstanding tenure of paid employment and benefits programs that will be lost forever.
This measure seems intended to ensure quality and attention to detail in representation, while eliminating situations of conflict of interest so candidates do not have a stake in government master planning, investments, and contracts. Once they leave office, however, this may not be governable unless stipulated upfront, much like reform to curtail the revolving door of lobbyist legislators.
This also raises questions of personal reliance on the office and salary once attained and any behaviors that could induce, as well as if adequate remuneration and other compensation would be provided at the expense of taxpayers. There may be other ways to prevent conflict of interest without forsaking the livelihood of a broad swath of candidates, or otherwise compromising their financial independence and well-being.
More information about Melissa Brown Blaeuer:
Date of Birth: 7/2/1963
Current Occupation: Technical Art Director / Experience Design
Education: BSc in Computer Science on hold, with about 5 courses remaining at Empire State College/SUNY. 35+ years of professional design and experience, practical training and coursework in management, art direction, communications, programming, software application and digital products, business and economics, and system design and analysis.
Public/party service: Co-leader of the West Milford Democratic Municipal Committee, Vice Chair for Tourism and Secretary on the West Milford Economic Development Commission, former Municipal Utilities Authority Commissioner and Secretary, former President and Secretary of the West Milford Democratic Club, former candidate for Town Council in 2014 and 2015 as well as manager and designer for the campaigns of others, former committee member of the Beautification and Recycling Committee, Community Services and Recreation Committee, and Resource Development Committee for the Township of West Milford.