This was my first time attending a political debate and I was sure in for a surprise. Before I even stepped into the Shea Center for Performing Arts at William Paterson University, there were groups of supporters screaming for their party’s candidate. It was a spectacle and I found myself feeling nervous as I have never seen two adamant groups of people head-to-head only a few feet away from each other. I felt like I was in a television political drama. The supporters of Republican candidate Kim Guadagno chanted “more taxes, more problems” and claimed Democrat candidate Phil Murphy to be a money hungry businessman unfit for governor. Murphy supporters held up Donald Trump masks and placed a life-size Trump figure in KKK garb in the front of their area.
I believe that there was an overwhelming majority present at the debate for Murphy. Before I talk about both sides, I want to mention that the debate was very heated and reminded me of a Trump vs. Clinton debate form just last year. There were a series of jabs and the occasional joke from Murphy.
Guadagno stood firm on her claim that she will lower taxes and that Murphy will raise them. She disagreed on raising the gas tax as Murphy agreed. She stated she wants property tax relief for the people of New Jersey. She criticized Murphy for wanting to build up Atlantic City yet not understanding the struggle for the people who live there. I felt that she was more realistic and seemed to have a plan for a lot of what she was claiming that she would do as governor. Murphy labeled her as another “Chris Christie.”
Murphy spoke about how he stands for dreamers and is willing to spend millions to make New Jersey a sanctuary state. He spoke about his past. He said that he can relate to the middle class since he grew up poor and had an under the table job at just 13 years old. Yet he could not answer Guadagno’s question on why he owns a seven million dollar home. Murphy struggled answering questions on tax relief. A William Paterson student asked about the escalating student debt. Murphy stated that he wants to help students with their debt relief by forgiving their loans if a student attends a NJ higher education for more than 5 years. He also proposed opening a state-run bank to help fund this. Both candidates had strong stances on helping with funding pensions in New Jersey. My absolute favorite question was when the candidates were asked what their favorite fruits and vegetables were. Guadagno, catering to NJ voters said her favorite fruit and vegetable is the Jersey tomato. Murphy, on the other hand, picked broccoli. It is likely this vegetable related question will the deciding factor for most New Jerseyans.
I believe that this debate helped me to see more of the character of both candidates. I had an idea of who I wanted to vote for when I walked in and left more confused. I believe it is important to find what is important to you as an individual and your community and make the decision that best fits your beliefs. To be blatantly honest, I don’t love either candidate and still have more research to do. See you at the polls and remember to November 7th!