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I live in Burlington County, NJ. So I was both pleased and angry when I learned this week that the State of New Jersey will be sending $1.2 million to the County Board of Elections to pay for the special U.S. Senate election to fill the remainder of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s term.

I was pleased because the money for this special election would not strain the county’s fragile budget and impact much-needed infrastructure projects and other county-run services. The county government has been dominated by Republican leaders who emulate Governor Christie’s one-shot fiscal gimmicks in order to keep the budget balanced. (For example, last year, they sold a well-run county hospital to a for-profit company in order to show a balanced budget.) At least, now they don’t have to pull this same rabbit out of their hat to pay for a special election.

I was angry, because half of the $1.2 million expenditure is unnecessary.

The money we pay for running elections is a price we pay for democracy. It is necessary and good. But we could have saved $600,000 in Burlington County alone (and $12 million statewide) by holding the general Senatorial election in early November instead of mid-October as Governor Christie decreed. Why hold two statewide elections within a few weeks? There’s only one reason – Chris Christie’s ego. If he had opted to hold the Senate election in November, the gubernatorial race and Christie’s name would be second on the ballot – below the names of Cory Booker and Steve Lonigan – the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees. And one thing Christie abhors is playing second fiddle to anyone. He wouldn’t answer his party’s call to be Mitt Romney’s VP, and he won’t do the fiscally responsible thing and save $12 million on a special election. Just so he can be on the top of the ballot and won’t have to compete with Cory Booker for media time.

What could Burlington County do with the $600,000 that Chris Christie is pissing away? We could hire a half-dozen teachers to help alleviate overcrowding in our schools.  Or we could fix the repetitive flooding of some county roads. Or we could bring the pay scales of our prosecutors in line with the rest of the state.

Christie’s policies have raised taxes on the middle class and the poor. Now his ego is also costing us money. It’s time for a change in Trenton. It’s time to elect Barbara Buono as governor.



A version of this diary was originally published on BlueJersey.com

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