The 3rd District encompasses 34 communities in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties: Alloway, Bridgeton, Carneys Point, Clayton, Deerfield, East Greenwich, Elk, Elmer, Elsinboro, Franklin, Glassboro, Gloucester, Greenwich, Logan, Lower Alloways Creek, Mannington, National Park, Newfield, Oldmans, Paulsboro, Penns Grove, Pennsville, Pilesgrove, Pittsgrove, Quinton, Salem, South Harrison, Swedesboro, Upper Deerfield, Upper Pittsgrove, West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Woodstown, and Woolwich.
Voter registration is 36 percent Democratic and 22 percent Republican, with most of the rest unaffiliated.
This district has a contested race in the Democratic primary.
Seeking re-election are both Democratic Assemblymen, John Burzichelli of Paulsboro and Adam Taliaferro of Swedesboro; they are being challenged in the primary for the second time by Gibbstown resident John Kalnas.
Making up the Republican ticket are Beth Sawyer of Woolwich and Edward Durr Jr. of Swedesboro.
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 from 3rd District candidates.
JOHN KALNAS: DEMOCRAT
Occupation: Retired educator and track coach, restaurant employee, mental health adviser
Education: Gloucester County College, Glassboro State College (biology, psychology, education — three years)
Why are you running for the Assembly? While serving on the Gloucester County mental health board for 12 years I had assumed that our current healthcare was the best available. About 10 years ago I began a thorough investigation into the medication to treat mental illness. To make a long story short, it was a fraud; there was no legitimate science to support it; clinical trials were failures — only a ridiculous set of standards by the FDA allows these drugs on the market.
When healthcare and marketing hopped into the same bed, truth went out the window. Couple that with doctors receiving a 10-percent kickback and you have a false justification of how well these drugs work. I tried getting my state reps involved and newspaper letter campaigns. I did have some success with stopping the boys and girls act in 2016 from giving children medication without parents’ consent. I feel the best way to stop this epidemic is to run myself.
What are your three top priorities if elected?
I have one major advantage over the professional politicians. Wherever I go, people have always looked to me for leadership. I know everything there is to know about these drugs. I will make these politicians return to the people from the interests of big money. I can do that. If I can coach an 0-9 track team to a state title, I can do that.
Make changes in the state Medicaid program to greatly reduce the state budget. The state politicians have been lobbied by big pharma to only use the most expensive drugs. Some drugs only cost about $40 a month but we use drugs that cost $2,000 a month instead. Neither has proved better in clinical trials.
Review the states pension program. It was back in the eighties that Gov. Kean improved things for the teachers who were at that time not making a livable wage. However, greed crept into the program and professional politicians started creating a pension bonanza for all their friends. Nowhere in this negotiation was the average taxpayer represented. Would the average taxpayer want to give state workers multiple pensions when he can’t even get one himself? The state pension program still needs much work. I have no problem with a good teacher having security, but school administrators and college administrators collecting salaries equivalent to big company executives on the public’s back — I have a problem [with that].
What makes you the best candidate? That’s an easy one. Who are we kidding? Most politicians get into politics to make money, while serving the interest of the machine which funds their election. I’m not running to serve myself or big money. I found out I made a mistake; I led people astray when seeking mental health services. These drugs don't make you better. They can’t. Now I am making up for my mistake. And since I am working for the people’s interest and not my own, I am the better candidate.
JOHN BURZICHELLI did not respond to the survey request.
ADAM TALIAFERRO did not respond to the survey request.