Assembly Candidates Cleo Tucker & Garnet Hall: ‘NJ Elections Transparency Act Is Not Good Gov’t’

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Three Democratic candidates are vying for two seats to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly: Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent; Garnet Hall; and Frank McGehee. Tucker and Hall are running together and are endorsed by the Essex County Democratic Party. McGehee is running “off the line”. Two candidates — Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti — are running in the Republican primary. The primary takes place on June 6, 2023. Village Green is accepting policy and candidacy statements from all candidates. The following is from the Tucker and Hall campaign:

Cleopatra Tucker and Garnet Hall

Tucker and Hall: The Election Transparency Law Is Not Good Government
LD-28 Candidates Weigh in on Legislation

The Elections Transparency Act, (S-2866/A-4372) was signed into law [on April 4] by Gov. Phil Murphy.  It has been the subject of discussion, editorials, articles, emails, and telephone calls to legislators in recent weeks.

The Act permits increased campaign contribution limits, ends local pay-to-play ordinances, including Maplewood’s rigorous 2006 prohibitions, and changes the Election Law Enforcement Commission Executive Director to a gubernatorial appointment, together with other provisions.

Some believe it helps level the playing field as independent expenditure groups and self-funded candidates have no contribution limits, which have not changed in eighteen (18) years.

Others, including Philip Hensley, a policy analyst with the League of Women Voters, opine that the wealthiest donors can contribute even greater amounts, concentrating candidates’ dependence disproportionately upon them.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups maintain the dark money components requiring disclosure by 501C(4) organizations provide inadequate protections, as corporate and trade organizations contributions continue to remain hidden.

The Maplewood Democratic Committee expressed its staunch opposition to the legislation, in a statement sent to, among others, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) and candidate Garnet Hall, (D-Maplewood). “…The Election Transparency Act has no place in our government,” the MDC said, and called upon legislators to craft a “genuinely transparent solution that strengthens our ethics and campaign finance laws.”

In response to this outreach, Asw. Tucker voted no to the Act during last week’s voting session, observing she is new to South Orange-Maplewood, but is well-aware of the voters and residents’ disapproval of the measure.  “My obligation is to be responsive to my constituents’ concerns. While I am still learning my new communities, I want SOMA to be confident that I am listening to them and be counted on to represent their interests in Trenton,” said Tucker. 

Garnet Hall also expressed concern about the legislation. “As an Assembly candidate, I believe it is incumbent upon me to stay informed about issues and make residents aware of where I stand. This law invalidates our long-standing pay-to-play ordinance, and despite its name undermines the transparency we need in New Jersey politics.  It is detrimental to SOMA and the State,” Hall concluded.

Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker has represented the 28th District since 2007 and Garnet Hall is a candidate for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.


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