When speaking to Steve Lonegan one is immediately struck by his confidence and command of the issues. When you ask Steve Lonegan a question, although there may be many different answers, he states his with a comprehensive slew of facts that make it seem only logical that his is the only right answer.
In this interview I confronted Mayor Lonegan with some of the hot button issues such as taxes, state mandates, federal funds, Abbott districts and even his own campaign. You will come to see that Steve Lonegan does not shy away from any of the issues .
We started off by asking the candidate about proposed efforts to curb the affordability crisis in New Jersey by consolidating municipalities. Some of these proposals have been made by Republicans like Senator Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County.
When asked if he would oppose legislation requiring that municipalities adhere to a prescribed consolidation formula or incentives to do so, Lonegan replied matter of factly “Yes. Not only will I oppose it I will veto any such legislation.”
He expanded on his answer quite extensively by continuing with “The state government can’t manage themselves. Local government is the most efficient and effective government there is. Our small towns do a phenomenal job of keeping expenses down in almost every single case. And these people in Trenton do not understand the value of local government and for them to come in and force small towns to consolidate under the mode of big government and big government spending is destructive for New Jersey”.
When asked if he supports consolidation without state coercion the former Bogota Mayor says “science and statistics prove that small towns are the best type of governments in the state. The state government is on the verge of its own collapse and bankruptcy……..it is one of the biggest political diversions in state history.....trying to blame small towns under some bogus claim that if you force two small towns to consolidate, you will save the state money---It doesn’t. The statistics prove over and over again that small towns are much more cost efficient". “
If I had my way, I would take Newark and divide it up into six small towns.”
“In every case, these big units always need subsidies and aid. The other aspect to this agenda is that in all these small towns, you have volunteer ambulance corps, volunteer fire departments and when you consolidate them into big cities you then force unionized labor and the labor unions would love noting better than to get rid of all those volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps and have them all be unionized like Newark or Jersey City or what have you”
To further punctuate his point Lonegan explained that in his last year in office as Mayor, his town of 8,000 people (the same as Wasilla, Alaska) had a per capita spending of roughly $750 per person whereas nearby towns such as Teaneck with 40,000 residents spent $12 hundred dollars person and Hackensack where 45,000 residents live, their per capita expenditure was close to $16 hundred per person.
Another reason for his opposition to merging small towns was based on the fact that the small town Mayors and planning boards and zoning regulations get in the way of state officials which have designs on these small towns and their property. So the state would love to do away with many of those local authorities through consolidation because it would make it easier for them to ride roughshod over local residents and implement their own big government plans and policies.
That conveniently brought us to another issuer. State mandates and COAH.
- "....its a very, very dangerous plan that will undermine communities, undermine the economy and to capitulate on this will be forfeiting our rights as Americans"
Thanks to a series of state court ordered, legislative style, mandates the Council Of Affordable Housing has implemented policies to create so called affordable housing that will drive up property taxes, consume open space and change the character of the towns forced to comply with them.What does Steve Lonegan think about it? As he stated to POLITICS 24/7, “it has to be completely overturned”
He called it "a total leftwing engineering scheme, the most radical in all the country”.
Lonegan believes it is unfortunate that some Republicans feel that we have to “follow it” simply because it was court ordered. “The court was not elected to govern the state and also the whole mentality behind this is nothing but social engineering on a level that the country has never seen before and again its an issue where local communities don’t want to have the agenda of Trenton shoved down their throats” said Lonegan.
How will he overcome COAH?
Well the feisty firebrand says he will “accomplish that by defunding COAH, taking away their pencils and paper, appointing people to the existing COAH board who believe in abolishing COAH and while I am doing that, we will be pushing for a referendum on the ballot to have COAH overturned and the Mt. Laurel decision overturned“.
From COAH our conversation progressed to immigration of which I asked how the Mayor, as Governor, would, in New Jersey, combat the proliferation of illegal immigration?
- "I'll be roling up the red carpet"
In rapid fire form Steve, as he asked to be called said “I actually support 287G empowering local police and county police to have the authority to act as an extension of the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS). We will not be having driver licenses for illegal aliens, absolutely not and we will not be extending in state tuitions to illegal aliens. In state tuitions is for those who have supported and built this state, paid taxes in this state and can benefit from this discount. It is not just for anyone who barges into New Jersey illegally and unfortunately we’re dealing with the fact that the federal government has failed at controlling immigrants and we’re paying the consequences. So those are the steps we can take here.”
Not satisfied with that statement alone, Lonegan again brought up COAH. According to him "while we are driving high income jobs and businesses out of the state by having the highest taxes in America" the 100 thousand low income housing units that the COAH mandates are forcing us to build are "a red carpet to illegal aliens saying, hey come to New Jersey. So i'll be rolling up that red carpet"
As you can see so far, Steve Lonegan doesn't hold any punches and as the interviews continues, tomorrow, you will see that he doesn't give any inappropriate punches either. He says it like it is and offers, to many, a politician who isn't interested in playing politics but rather frustrated by the political games being played in Trenton
Be sure to log back into us on Friday for more. We get into everything from Abbot School districts, property taxes and homestaed rebates to Steve's competitors for the Republican nomination for Governor. Just like the race for Governor, this is going to get interesting.
"Well, did you all see Obama's speech? He said America is finally ready to lead again, to which Bush said: 'Hey, I'm sitting here! Hello! I'm still here!'"