All three Democrats also said they support marriage equality and community approval of charter schools and open-space preservation efforts. Barnes in July supported an open space bill that would have the state dedicate one-fifth of one cent of the 7 percent sales tax for open space preservation over the next three decades. That bill did not receive enough backing in either house to make it on the ballot this year, however.
Angalet, a lifelong Edison resident, does not back that effort and was not specific about how she would fund open-space preservation.
"I would like to look for alternate sources of funding to preserve open space without burdening the state with more financial burden," said Angalet. "I don't think it could come from sales tax or a surcharge or anything like that. T here has to be another way."
Like the other candidates, she backs marriage equality, property tax stabilization, and giving districts a say in the approval of charter schools. One issue on which the candidates clearly disagree is how New Jersey is implementing the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The GOP candidates all stated that New Jersey is fully compliant with the newest provisions of the ACA, but the states needs to provide tools to help businesses provide health insurance options for their employees.
"Competition is an essential variable in ensuring that consumers get the biggest bang for their buck, and I believe we need to allow people to buy their healthcare across state lines," Bengivenga said.
Barnes criticized Christie for not setting up a state health insurance exchange, saying he should have used money from the federal government to explain the ACA to residents.
Pinkin, who has a masters degree in health administration from New York University and is a healthcare advocate, has served on the East Brunswick council for nine years. She agreed with Barnes about setting up an exchange.
"Our governor could have chosen to have the our state implement an exchange," said Pinkin. "Most of the states that are doing their own exchange are having a smoother process of enrollment." "I think it's really got to come from the top down. The governor's position has been reluctant acceptance," agreed Diegnan. "The state has to be an advocate of the Affordable Care Act, which we really are not. If this is going to be the future of healthcare, which I believe it will, the state has to be embrace it. Obamacare is here to stay. The need is there and the citizens approve it. "
The views of Angalet, the Independent candidate, closely mirror those of the Democrats.
"Gov. Chris Christie has not approved of enlarging the Medicaid program here in New Jersey," she said. "Had Christie not vetoed increasing Medicaid, more people would have an option to choose it. The site right now for the Affordable Care Act is not running properly. It's sending people to tell them to apply for Medicaid when in New Jersey they can't. If there was a way to overrule Christie's decision, I would."