Though the season for politics and campaigning truly has no start or end point any more, traditionally the race for votes in a November election begins after Labor Day. In a way it seems like the 2020 election was only a short time ago. Presidential elections often leave a larger mark in the public psyche. But it is time to turn our attention to New Jersey where the governor and all 120 seats in the NJ State Legislature are on the ballot.
The NJ State PBA has many reasons for its existence. As a labor union, its primary obligation is to ensure and enhance the collective bargaining and legal rights of its members. From members’ first day in uniform to the end of their lives, the State PBA is dedicated to fighting for their paydays, their safety, their pensions and their dignity. Politics to some feels almost like a distraction from fighting for those principles.
But it is impossible to ignore that every one of those goals is impacted by the decisions of elected officials from Trenton to every town hall in the state. Like it or not, there isn’t anything good or bad that touches the law enforcement profession that doesn’t pass through a politician. Without the State PBA speaking as the voice for law enforcement in New Jersey and taking a stand for or against those politicians, it is frightening to think what policing and employment for officers could look like today. One only needs to examine what the advocates for “defunding” have done to policing in cities throughout the nation or, closer to home, what Chris Christie did to a generation of officers’ pensions and benefits. If those examples don’t spur a person to stay engaged politically, nothing will.
So the time has come for the State PBA to endorse individuals (or choose not to endorse individuals) who want to make those decisions for you. The PBA Board of Delegates has voted recently to endorse candidates for State Senate and the General Assembly that you see listed below. The board also placed a number of endorsements on hold pending further interviews with candidates.
This list of endorsements is based on several factors:
First, we examined an elected official’s voting record and sponsorships of bills we supported and opposed. By comparing “apples to apples” on their actions, we can see the big picture over the long term of how an elected official has treated the law enforcement profession. We look at how they vote when we ask them directly. We review the behind-the-scenes meetings and decision making that helps move good bills or hold bad bills. And we review the political reality in a district to determine what candidates can be competitive.
No candidate is perfect. There is no such thing. Sometimes they disappoint us. Sometimes they fight for us until they are the last ones standing. Politics is a long-term process. We have been highly successful this session defending law enforcement in the face of an anti-police sentiment because we treat our relationships in Trenton like that. That success doesn’t happen if we don’t wisely engage in the political process day in and day out.
One of my favorite political sayings is, “If you’re not at the table, then you’re going to end up on the menu.” Supporting the State PBA in the political process puts us not only at the table but back in the kitchen as the meal is prepped.
So review these endorsements and get engaged in your districts. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.