Here’s why we enthusiastically endorse Faris Zwirahn for LD16 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: Better ballot reform is a foundational issue in my platform. The current “party-line” ballot design disadvantages progressive, diverse representation in New Jersey government that reflects our community composition and its values.
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 all candidates running for the same office receive the first and subsequent ballot positions in an equal number of election districts and no candidate is advantaged over other candidates on the basis of their ballot placement (see http://ggcnj.org/resolution for more details).
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.
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: My policy platform specifically proposes a non-partisan publicly funded election program to support candidates from marginalized communities to run for public office in NJ.
Redistricting: I support placing a nonpartisan commission in charge of the legislative redistricting process.
Public Advocate: I support passing legislation to reinstate the statewide Office of the Public Advocate that was eliminated in 2010.
Comment: The issues facing New Jerseyans today are far more urgent than they were a year ago, the root causes have long predated the pandemic. As my platform highlights, centering the needs of marginalized communities has never been more important, and the Office of the Public Advocate is an effective tool to elevate these voices.
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: Posting bill text with enough advanced notice to allow stakeholder input is absolutely essential to a transparent government.
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.
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: The responsibility state legislators have to develop and implement objective policies that better the lives of constituents should weigh considerably on every legislator. Simultaneous employment poses severe risk of interfering with this responsibility, not only in terms of time commitment, but in crucial perceived and actual conflicts of interest that prohibit objective lawmaking.
More information about Faris Zwirahn:
Date of Birth: 7/15/1980
Current Occupation: Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University
Education: I received a BA from Damascus University; an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from CUNY Graduate Center; and I’m pursuing an MPhil in Political & Moral Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Public/party service: My political activism dates back to my life in Syria, and eventually led me to receive political asylum in the United States after serving a year as a Fulbright Scholar. Additionally, throughout my fifteen years as a teacher, I have been fortunate enough to work with and mentor young people from all walks of life. I also volunteer as a translator for Arab speakers in hospitals, courts, and airports, which was particularly impactful during the years of the Trump Administration. Finally, I am a member of Our Revolution, the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, Central New Jersey Progressive Democrats, and the Sunrise Movement.