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Candidates: Legislative District 4

In lower house, door opens a crack for GOP in Camden and Gloucester counties.

Redistricting brought opportunities in the 4th District in Camden and Gloucester counties for new candidates, though this remains heavily Democratic.

An Assembly seat opened when Republican incumbent Domenick DiCicco found himself shifted to the 3rd District last spring.

Seeking to retain his Senate seat is incumbent Sen. Fred Madden of Sewell. The Democrat is the former acting director of the New Jersey State Police, a post he left in 2003 when he ran for the Senate. He is a dean at the Gloucester County Police Academy.

Republican Giancarlo D’Orazio, a business owner and substitute teacher who is also from Sewell, is challenging him.

On the Assembly side, incumbent Democrat Paul D. Moriarty of Sewell is running with newcomer Gabriela Mosquera, the chief of staff for Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer. Moriarty has been in office since 2006.

The Republicans have nominated Shelley Lovett, a two-time Gloucester Township councilwoman who lost to Madden for Senate in 2007, and Patricia Fratticcioli, a member of the Monroe Township parks and recreation committee and the Monroe Township Republican Club Ladies Auxiliary.

Independent candidate Tony Celeste, of Williamstown, is running under the banner of "Family, Freedom, Community." He is a service manager at a car dealership.

The Democrats are pushing for the remaining parts of the party's jobs creation bills and property tax reduction plans.

The Republican platform is pushing for incentives to keep or attract businesses, full funding for education and capping government costs at all levels.

D'Orazio said he and his fellow Republicans have adopted the mantra of returning "accountability, transparancy and responsibility" to Trenton.

He said he would support allowing more local governing bodies the flexibility to raise funds to cover necessary programs, including new local forms of taxation.

"One example would be to allow local governments to impose a local income tax," he said. The new tax would provide immediate relief for those on a fixed income.

Madden has sponsored several tax-related measures, including ones to help seniors pay their property taxes, give breaks to military personnel and the families, and create the 2 percent tax levy cap.

"Programs such as the 2 percent property cap freeze and Homstead Rebate and Senior Freeze programs are effective in the sense that they help with the immediate burden of property taxes,” said Madden, who chairs the Assembly Labor Committee. The state should consider increasing state aid to municipalities to help with rising property taxes.

Madden also co-sponsored legislation that set up a phonebank reference center for veterans. "It is a valuable program that has already helped thousands of veterans in need after their service," he said.

According to campaign finance reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Madden had raised about $202,000 and spent all but $11,000 of that as of a month before the election.

D'Orazio’s report is not available. He said a foul-up at his office when his campaign treasurer was out of town meant the report did not get to ELEC on time. The report had insufficent postage and was returned to his office. D'Orazio said he has spoken to ELEC officials and if he is fined, he will pay the fine.

His running mates are seeking level school funding, saying that district municipalities have been shortchanged. The Republicans also promote lower business taxes and less regulation to help attract businesses.

"We need to restore integrity and not waste the time and money of the taxpayers of New Jersey," Fratticcioli said. "With no strings attached, no favors in return, I would be able to and willing to make decisions based on what is best for all residents of New Jersey. Restoring integrity and accountablity is not an option -- it should be a requirement."

Lovett said her top priorities are "out of control" property taxes and job creation. She said she would tackle the school funding issue. "Education is a priority for me," she said. “It's one of the most important things we can give our children."

Morarity co-sponsored legislation that resulted in the 2 percent tax levy cap, and said that it can be a useful tool when combined with shared services and consolidation of government and schools.

"(These) are among the most effective tax relief programs we have," Morarity said. But more is needed. "Quite simply we have more government than we can afford."

Morarity has filed legislation that would offer governing bodies assistance to develop shared service or consolidation plans. If they fail to act, their state aid would be cut by the amount of the savings, he said.

Mosquera, who right from college went to work for Democratic politicians, seeks more school and municipal aid for towns, supports expanded job training programs, and wants to lower property taxes for seniors and other taxpayers.

She would allow local residents to vote on whether to allow a new charter school into their district. "I believe that charter schools can play an important role in our educational system," she said.

Like her running mates, she said the tax levy cap and the rebate program are a start in the effort to reduce property taxes, but shared services and consolidations are also needed. She called for increases in state aid to towns and schools.

"The current cuts to aid at both of these levels will do nothing but continue to shift the funding burdens onto local taxpayers," Mosquera said.

Celeste called for an end to red tape that hampers business growth. He also favors school choice and level spending for public education. "Less government in education is the answer. Get government out of the schools and let them succeed," he said.

Celeste calls for equal funding for all students as a way of reducing property taxes for a large majority of the state's residents.

He would like to privatize the state's transportation system, a fews sections at a time to ensure that the change was working properly.

Celeste does not support anti-sprawl efforts, calling them an affront to freedom, and he opposes regional planning: "Preservation should not restrict population growth.”

Michael Daigle is a freelance writer and journalist from Phillipsburg. He has worked for newspapers in Massachusetts, Maine, and for the past 20 years, in New Jersey. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting on housing policy, politics, environmental issues and as a columnist.

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