NJ State Senator Robert Gordon (D)
Fernando Alonso (R)
The Democratic and Republic candidates for New Jersey’s District 38 State Senate seat—Senator Robert Gordon (D) and Fernando Alonso (R) — each addressed a crowd of 30 Bergenfield Jewish community members at Monday evening’s candidate forum sponsored by the New Jersey office of the Orthodox Union (OU) Advocacy Center and hosted by Miriam and Ehud Fried. The candidates arrived at different times to speak separately with the group of constituents about property taxes, transportation, school vouchers, consolidation of services and more.
Sen. Gordon insisted that he will “look for ways to provide financial relief in education areas” to the non-public school community. He reiterated his commitment to the passage of the Special Education Bill, which would allow school districts to assign students with special needs to an out-of-district school—even if that school is sectarian—as long as the funds are used for strictly non-sectarian programs and services. He also stated that he wants to expand the ability of a school nurse to provide emergency care and transfer transportation responsibilities from local school districts to county agencies, when appropriate bus routes cannot be provided.
Mr. Alonso echoed Sen. Gordon’s statement about the benefits of counties assuming transportation responsibilities and also discussed his desire to lower property taxes and send less money to Washington. As a former Catholic school student, Alonso assured the crowd that he will support legislation that will help families afford the schools that are the best options for their children, whether through vouchers, tax credits or other means.
Both candidates emphasized their allegiance to the Jewish community and their appreciation of the open dialogue that the Orthodox Union is encouraging in communities across New Jersey. Mr. Alonso, who is of Cuban descent, cited the “incredible affinity between the Cuban and Jewish communities.” Sen. Gordon noted his consistent history of visiting Jewish schools and synagogues and paying close attention to his Jewish constituents.
The New Jersey office of the OU Advocacy has been bringing candidates and communities together this election season, particularly in two of the most competitive districts in the State—D-18, which includes East Brunswick, Edison, and Highland Park, and D-38 which includes Bergenfield, Fair Lawn, and Paramus.
“We take great pride in working together with both the community and its elected officials” said Josh Pruzansky, New Jersey Regional Director of OU Advocacy. “Through our events, OU Advocacy brought nearly 1,000 community members together with their legislators so that legislators could learn about the community’s issues and concerns directly from their constituents.”
“We encourage members of the New Jersey Jewish community to get involved with OU Advocacy. In addition to our candidate forums and legislative breakfasts, OU Advocacy-NJ has put a significant effort into its Get Out the Vote campaign and is planning a mission to the Statehouse in the upcoming legislative season,” said Arielle Frankston-Morris, Associate Director of Community Engagement for OU Advocacy-NJ.
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The Orthodox Union is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization; the OU Advocacy Center, formerly the Institute for Public Affairs, is the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU and leads its advocacy efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals.
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