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Senate Race: District 19

Two "frustrated taxpayers" --one a long-time member of the Senate -- square off in the 19th.

Republican Paul Lund Jr. is the dark horse in the District 19 Senate race. The 19th has long been a Democratic stronghold, but Lund still believes that he can get a seat in the upper house.

“Every once in a while, you got to clean house,” Lund said, referring to his opponent, incumbent Democrat Joseph Vitale. “People get too comfortable. They forget who put them in and who they’re responsible to.”

Lund currently teaches math and science at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth and before that spent 20 years in the financial services sector. He is a lifelong resident of Woodbridge.

Lund has mainly been campaigning against government spending and regulations.

“I’m a free market guy,” he said. “I believe you have to encourage free enterprise by taking out the most onerous regulations.”

Because of his teaching experience, Lund believes in a “bottom-up approach to education, where decisions are made at the level of parents and teachers.”

Lund expressed dissatisfaction with Vitale’s health care legislation, which created the NJ FamilyCare program to cover low-income children, calling it “Joebama care.”

“Most of the people I’ve talked to don’t know what he’s done specifically,” Lund said.

Vitale disagreed: “I’ve not observed Mr. Lund anywhere on any issue in the community that I represent. He’s been invisible and hasn’t been a voice for anyone,” Vitale said.

A small business owner, Vitale has served in the Senate since 1997. He is vice-chair of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and has long advocated for healthcare reform in the Garden State.

To Vitale, the main issues this year are the economy and jobs. He supports legislation that would give tax credits to companies hiring and training new employees and to businesses relocating to the state.

He also draws particular attention to what he called “a severe primary care and physicians shortage” in New Jersey. He said he is working on legislation that would enable career opportunities in the medical field through loan forgiveness and tuition assistance.

“I’m fighting the fight for individuals, families, and children every day that I wake up,” Vitale said.

On at least one issue, the opponents are in agreement. Lund called himself “a frustrated taxpayer.”

“We’re all frustrated taxpayers,” Vitale said.

Matthew Kassel is a freelance writer focusing mainly on politics and culture. He is an editorial assistant at Community News Service, a local newspaper group in Mercer County.

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