Republican policies find strong support in the 39th Legislative District as reliably conservative senators and assembly members support the party's plans for lower taxes, less regulation and public school reform.
This district, which borders New York state in northern Bergen and Passaic counties, consistently has supported Republicans even though the GOP has just a small margin of registered voters over the Democrats.
Sen. Gerald Cardinale, a dentist from Demarest, is seeking to return to the seat he has held since 1982, making him the second-most senior state senator. He is being challenged by Democrat Lorraine Waldes, president of the River Vale Board of Education.
Incumbent Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, a Washington Township businessman, is seeking re-election on the GOP ticket with attorney Holly Schepisi, who was nominated in September to replace retiring Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk.
The Democrats nominated atttorney Anthony Iannarelli of Ramsey and Dumont businessman Michael J. McCarthy.
Clinton Bosca is also running as an independent.
Cardinale has supported the key Republican positions on tax breaks for the wealthy, level school aid for all districts, teacher tenure reform, and more shared services to help reduce property taxes.
"There is nothing in our educaton system more valuable than an exceptional teacher," he said. "Conversely, poor teachers merely putting in time can impede a child's development significantly. The mediocre and substandard teachers must be weeded out."
Cardinale has sponsored bills to require the Declaration of Independence to be read aloud in public schools each morning and to end the Urban Enterprise Zone program.
He also supported the creation of the 2 percent tax levy cap as a tool to slow property tax growth. "Our recent cap on tax hikes, as well as rebates, are useful as stop gaps," he said. "What my constituents need and deserve are significant reductions in their property taxes."
As president of River Vale’s school board, Waldes led a successful effort to obtain concessions in salaries and benefits from school unions to keep the district's annual budget below the state mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.
Waldes did not answer multiple requests for comment on her campaign.
Schroeder has been in the Assembly since last year, after serving on the Washington Township Council from 1991 to 2010.
He has sponsored legislation that would allow busineses with up to 50 employees to join health insurance alliances in an effort to reduce their costs and to lower the payments made by businesses to the state's unemployment fund.
Schroeder supports a "more business-friendly" approach to government to encourage job growth. "We need to reduce the burden on businesses and reduce unnecessary regulations that pose an unfair hardship and hinder job creation," he said
Schroeder also said that reducing property taxes through a better school aid formula is important. "Property taxes, particularly in my district in Bergen County, need to be brought under control," he said. "We need to take a look at the state's school funding formula and make it more equitable."
Schepisi, who is running with Schroeder, did not answer several requests for comment.
Iannarelli said he would work to lower property taxes and end the pay-to-play system in New Jersey. He also would support legislative efforts to help the middle class.
"I am not an expert on public school finance, but change has to come, because inner-city schools have been short-changed while suburban districts are barely holding on because of spiraling property taxes," he said. "When you look at the cuts the governor has made for services that assist the disenfranchised, I wouldn't expect anything from him."
His running mate, McCarthy, operates a family insurance agency. He is also a former assistant to the President of the state Senate, and a previous candidate for both the state Senate and Assembly.
Neither McCarthy, nor Bosca, answered numerous requests to discuss their positions.