The 28th District covers four Essex County communities — Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, and Nutley — and a portion of Newark.
A “blue” majority district, about 52 percent of its voters are Democrats, with only 8 percent Republican and most of the rest unaffiliated.
There is a Democratic primary contest. Both Assembly members Cleopatra Tucker of Newark and Ralph Caputo of Nutley are seeking re-election. Challenging them is Stephen Burd of Nutley.
The Republican candidates are Joy Bembry-Freeman of Newark and Antonio Pires of Nutley.
CANDIDATES IN CONTESTED PRIMARY
NJ Spotlight asked all candidates in contested races to fill out a brief survey about themselves and why they are running. This is the response we received from 28th District candidates.
STEPHEN BURD: DEMOCRAT
Occupation: School counselor
Family: I’m happily married to my beautiful and charming wife Tara and we have an incredibly strong and funny daughter, Magnolia, who is turning three on Memorial Day weekend.
Education: MS Ed, School Counseling, Hunter College, 2012; BS, Secondary English and Communications Education, Pennsylvania State University, 2005; BA, Theater, Pennsylvania State University, 2005
Why are you running for the Assembly? I’m running for the Assembly because I was inspired by Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential campaign. We need more people in politics who are willing to fight against corporate interests. I want to represent the interests of regular citizens, fight income inequality, and ensure that every person in NJ has access to clean drinking water.
What are your three top priorities if elected?
We should legalize marijuana in NJ for adults and fix a broken criminal justice system that has unfairly targeted poor and minority communities through the government’s war on drugs, where despite roughly equal usage rates, black people are almost four times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana.
We need to protect our environment and ensure that every person in NJ has access to clean drinking water. This means that we should invest in clean energy to create jobs for working families and ensure that workers have the skills, equipment, and training they need to succeed in a clean energy economy. We also need to ensure that we fully fund clean water infrastructure so that every person in NJ has access to clean drinking water.
We need to fully fund the pensions of police officers, firefighters, and teachers. Making cuts to public-worker pensions and healthcare benefits is not the answer to solving NJ’s budget problems. We need to protect working people, not penalize them for choosing careers that educate and protect our communities.
What makes you the best candidate? I’m a true progressive and I want to pass progressive policies in the Assembly. I believe in strengthening workers’ and individuals’ rights, protecting our environment, and ensuring that the Assembly represents the interests of the people, not the interests of corporations. Lastly, I’m a regular guy struggling to support my family like many other middle-class people in NJ. My wife and I are not wealthy and we both have to work full-time jobs to make ends meet. We’re not corporate executives trying to pass tax write-offs for our companies to the detriment of the middle class. I want to truly help the working people of New Jersey.
RALPH CAPUTO did not respond to the survey request.
CLEOPATRA TUCKER did not respond to the survey request.