Media outlets across New Jersey are collaborating on, to encourage political discussion among neighbors in advance of this fall’s gubernatorial election. As part of the project, The Record is following a group of neighbors in Westwood in Bergen County.
As eighty-year-old Robert R. Burroughs, a retired Westwood police chief, looks toward the gubernatorial election in November, he describes himself a disillusioned voter. “I don’t want to get involved. What’s my little voice going to do?” he said.
According to voter registration data, the neighborhood in Westwood where he lives leans Democratic. But Burroughs, an unaffiliated voter, said he votes “for the person, not the party.” And the issues that matter most to him as a senior living on a fixed income are “selfish.”
Michelle Paolacci, 48, is also disillusioned with New Jersey’s political leaders. Paolacci, a registered Republican, said of the candidates running for governor, “I don’t think they’re really going to do anything to help me.”
The big issues for Paolacci are the “little things” — like repairs to potholes, or the placement of a stop sign at the end of her street. “When these ‘small’ things take years to get fixed – it worries me. Where are my tax dollars going if these things aren't getting fixed?” she said. Paolacci said she would be attracted to a candidate that pledges to audit the government, which she believes has been dogged by a lot of wasteful spending.
Paolacci’s neighbor, Ross Goldflam, 48, is a Republican turned Democrat. “I don’t think there’s a quick fix to anything,” he said. “I would love for these candidates to sit with people who are struggling and truly understand that they need help,” Goldflam added. “Raising taxes? That’s not a progressive concept.”
Goldflam, who doesn’t cast his votes based solely on “red or blue,” said, “We can no longer afford to do that in New Jersey.”