Here’s why we enthusiastically endorse William Michelson for LD22 State Senate:
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: What an excellent, overdue idea this is!
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: Sounds reasonable.
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: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – I do not believe existing election law puts any unreasonable burden on any known voters. A certain amount of effort, like keeping oneself on the active voter rolls and going to a polling place (except for traditional absentee ballot situations), is reasonable, and tends to prevent election fraud. I consider several forms of election fraud to be a significant danger.
I have never heard of a single concrete example of the burden that current law supposedly puts on some individuals. I simply don’t believe it.
I also still believe that election law in general should be a State function, and should not be federalized, though I do not doubt that minor improvements could be made in various States.
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.
Comment: The need to put one’s personal and financial information into some publicly-available medium would put such a burden on citizens who want to run for office, particularly at the county and local levels, that many of them would refuse to run. We need more qualified, intelligent people to run for office, not less.
I also believe this principle applies to state and federal offices, with the possible exception of the Governor and President. Even those individuals should not have this burden imposed on them, if at all, until after the primaries, i.e., only the final, major candidates should possibly have to disclose financial and personal information.
Campaign funding: I support the public funding of campaigns for all state-level elected offices (i.e., the state legislature and gubernatorial elections).
Comment: I am concerned about the details of implementing campaign funding, but have never studied it in any detail. Assuming it is well-structured, I would support public campaign funding.
Redistricting: I support placing a nonpartisan commission in charge of the legislative redistricting process.
Comment: The current redistricting commission in New Jersey has too many people on it, and their apparent lock-step support of a map on which there are too many non-competitive districts is a bad practice. I am however skeptical that a way could be found to have only “nonpartisan” citizens on the commission – hardly anyone I know is actually nonpartisan, and the position would require a high degree of familiarity with the State and its government.
Public Advocate: I support passing legislation to reinstate the statewide Office of the Public Advocate that was eliminated in 2010.
Comment: It would have been helpful if this questionnaire contained a link to some source or summary of what this office used to be and do, and why it was eliminated. I’m not going to research it right now.
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: If anything, I would rather see a 7-day requirement, not a 3-day.
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: I would like to see a “dry run” of such a meeting, to see what I would think. Congress does this in some cases, so I have seen some, and I think televising those meetings is good.
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 is s topic worthy of exploration, but I think your articulation of it paints the scene with too broad a brush. Making it too hard for potential legislators to make a living will only drive qualified individuals out. Even with a full-time salary, many of them lack a satisfactory way to continue or resume their actual careers, after they leave office or are non-renewed by voters.
More information about William Michelson:
Party affiliation: Republican party
Date of Birth: 11/20/1953
Current Occupation: Attorney but mostly retired now.
Education: A.B. 1975, Rutgers University
J.D. (Law School) and M.A. (Urban and Regional Planning), both 1975, University of Iowa
Public/party service: Around 24 years of service on land use boards. Currently Chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission in Plainfield. Have run for other offices several times, most recently General Assembly in 2015.