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Cash and Contention are Hallmarks of Campaigns in the 14th District

Inverso, is president and CEO of Roma Bank, the longtime Mercer County financial institution that recently moved to Robbinsville Township. He said recently that he decided to leave politics after the bank went public in 2006 and his “fiduciary responsibilities changed.”

Dan Benson
Dan Benson

He decided to try to return to the Legislature after seeing what Christie accomplished after taking office in 2010.

“I thought I had been there and done that.” Inverso said recently. “I enjoy government. I thought I’d be retired, but the prospect of being part of the change that Gov. Christie has put into place was very appealing. It was a desire to be part of public policy and being part of the changes Gov. Christie has put into place.”

There are three important issues that legislators are likely to confront when the next Legislature convenes in 2014. In public education, more charter schools open every year, but they are not always welcome, especially in suburban communities. Candidates were asked whether they would support amending New Jersey's charter school law to allow a local community or school board to grant final approval before a new charter school can open there.

The new federal Health Care Reform law is going to affect everyone in 2014. Christie chose to have the federal government operate the new health insurance marketplace or exchange in New Jersey, citing potential costs and a lack of information from federal officials. Many legislators believe that the state would benefit from operating its own marketplace, allowing the state to receive more federal money to promote the exchange and more control over the insurance that's offered through it. Candidates in the 14th district were asked for their views on this issue.

State courts appear to have settled the issue of Marriage Equality in New Jersey, with the state Supreme Court on October 18 refusing to stay a September 27 Superior Court ruling that same-sex couples were being denied equal rights in New Jersey. Christie said his administration would oppose the ruling before the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court appears to have decided by taking no action on the lower court’s September ruling.
Meanwhile, overriding the Governor’s veto of a 2012 bill that passed both houses of the state Legislature is still an option, as is placing the issue on a future statewide ballot as a constitutional amendment.

The question posed to the candidates was, in light of recent developments in the courts, and the fact that marriages of same-sex couples are taking place, what is your opinion of gay marriage in New Jersey and what would you as a state legislator like to see done on the issue if you are elected?

The issue of open-space preservation has been a long-standing concern in New Jersey, which is famous for being the most densely populated state and where the entire state is considered to be “urban” because of its location between the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. But the state’s open-space program has languished in recent years as state officials looked in vain for a stable source of funding for land purchases as a way to prevent urban sprawl from uncontrolled residential development. This past year, a proposal to allocate a portion of sales tax revenue to open space preservation stalled in the Legislature just as it appeared poised for passage. Another option, to levy a “water tax” on the amount of water used by customers of public water systems has not gotten far, and it is opposed by many city and suburban communities, which use public water supplies exclusively.

The Republican candidates for General Assembly in the 14th are Steven Cook and Ronald Haas.

Cook, 45, said he is a lifelong resident of Hamilton Twp. and is executive director of ARC of Mercer County, which serves people who have developmental disabilities. He once served as Inverso’s chief of staff and he mentioned that if elected he would be the first openly gay Republican to serve in the Legislature.

Haas was born and raised in Milltown and is married. He and his wife have one son and two grandchildren, and live in Monroe Township. He is CEO of Haas Pharmaceuticals and claims ownership of 10 patents, including the one for liquid Ibuprofen.

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