WAYNE--Governor Chris Christie (R) and State Senator Barbara Buono (D) both participated in the Gubernatorial Debate located on the Campus of William Paterson University in Wayne.
The event ran in conjunction with media partners The Record, Asbury Park Press, WCBS and KYW. This is the third time WPU has held the gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, October 8.
Gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, health care, minimum wage, and property taxes were all topics on the list of the debate. Superstorm Sandy and the Rutgers and NJ Transit scandals were also discussed.
Protestors took to the sidewalk on Tuesday, October 8, to support their given party. They used chants such as “down with Christie” supporting Buono and “four more years” supporting Christie as the spectators filed into the Shea Center located on WPU's campus. If the overwhelming encouragement for Christie could not be heard outside, it was felt inside the Shea Center.
“Be proud you [the crowd] are a part of the democratic process!” states Kristine Johnson, Moderator and local CBS news anchor.
One question put forth by Johnson towards Buono inquired about her inability to gain traction in the race. Responses that fell just short of proving a point included “I get their struggle” and “I am focused on the people.”
It was as if most of her responses were falling short to spectators. “I feel like she [Buono] was in “competitive mode,” states Nita Ibrahim, WPU Senior, Psychology. I also asked myself if this was her first debate..because it sure looked like her first.”
As the protestors outside took turns chanting their political chants, Christie took his time to wait his turn and articulate what he wanted to say, not backing off from a single question.
“I think Christie did a much better job,” states Kelly Guggiari, WPU senior, Psychology. “He's a strong talker ...he didn't sound rehearsed and spoke what was on his mind.”
Johnson did not hesitate to challenge the Governor with heated questions.
“Are you sapping the dignity of the position of governor using words like 'idiot, stupid, jerk and even calling one public figure an 'arrogant sob’ even though you have signed bills into law preventing bullying?”
In stride, Christie responds with “New Jersey wants real. Leadership is about telling you the truth as you see it. I've been raised to use that language and I see no problem with it.”
“I believe Christie did a better job at the debate because of his way of answering questions directly,” states Ibrahim. “Straight to the chase.”
One of the panelist’s questions for Buono included possible reasons for residents gambling in other states, and how she plans on getting them to gamble in the state of New Jersey. Buono responded with “It's the economy, people won't gamble if they are worried about getting food on the table and gas in their car.”
“The senator could not answer any of the questions directly,” states Guggiari. “She was nervous, shuddering and sounded too uncomfortable and rehearsed...not the best leader qualities.”
Both parties had conflicting opinions on gay marriage.
“We shouldn't have the majority decide for the minority,” stated Buono.
The Governor is known for his anti-gay marriage stance despite his recent nomination of Bruce Harris, openly gay mayor of Chatham, to the Supreme Court.“Lets put it in the hands of the people,” voiced Christie. “I believe marriage is between a man and woman, and if the New Jersey residents want to change the law, I will support it.”
Buono declared a strong stance on the topic of property taxes and budget balancing. “I will never balance my budget on the backs of the middle class,” stated Buono. Christie rebutted this with “I know she'll never balance her own budget, because I had to do it.”
Even when faced with tough questions including the progress of Superstorm Sandy, running for President, and the recent opium epidemic that has hit the state, Christie maintained an agreeable level of poise and grace.
Healthcare is a major topic not only in the state of New Jersey but across the nation. As Christie argues, “healthcare is more available under this administration. I don't agree with it but I've complied with it.”
As far as Superstorm Sandy is concerned, Christie is “proud of the people of New Jersey.” He understands the problems that FEMA has created along with several other issues residents ran into during the recovery process.
The governor’s potential candidacy for presidency was not denied nor confirmed but when asked about running he responds with “Do the job you have now the best you can and the future will take care of you.”
Buono is looking to “grow our economy from the inside out,” and “change what's going on in our failing schools.”
“The senator has made legislation for 20 years, and hasn't done anything [for higher education]” states Christie.
Both candidates believe the state of New Jersey and its residents may alleviate the recent opium epidemic that is plaguing the state by increasing availability of treatment, addressing drug addiction as an illness, preventing the misuse of prescription medications, and legislating to end a mandatory prison sentence on a first time drug arrest.
For some, the debate left some undecided and uninterested voters with some clarity.
“The debate was not really helpful because I don't like either candidate, however Christie seemed to be on top of the ball when it comes to his stances” states Kevin Bodi, WPU Senior, Business. “I felt like I could relate to Christie more regarding these issues.”
Governor Chris Christie states that he is a proud New Jersey resident who was raised in Livingston who is also endorsed by 49 elected democrats. “I will be myself, I will tell the truth,” states Christie.
Barbara Buono is the daughter of an Italian immigrant butcher, which is the epitome of the American dream. “That fight for a better tomorrow is why I'm running,” Buono exclaims. “I will lift up the middle class by building a strong middle class.” She is a graduate of Montclair University and Rutgers Law School.
The Governor election is scheduled for November 6, 2013.