By Jack Ciattarelli
First, welcome back to New Jersey. Four years ago – almost to the day – you campaigned with then candidate Phil Murphy in the great city of Newark and endorsed his candidacy for governor.
At the time, you spoke the following words: “There’s only one candidate who’s actually going to have your back for governor…only one candidate who can bring the change that New Jersey desperately needs and that is Phil Murphy…” And you eloquently went on to add that we must focus on “rejecting politics of division…rejecting politics of fear…embracing the politics that says everybody counts, a politics that says everybody deserves a chance, politics that says everybody has dignity and worth. A politics of hope.”
Mr. President, we may disagree on some of the policies required to achieve the “politics of hope” you outlined, but we certainly agree on the goal. It’s why I’ve outlined a detailed and specific plan to revitalize Newark and New Jersey’s other major cities (see my specific plans at the end of this letter). Until we bring New Jersey’s cities back and restore hope and opportunity to people, our broken state will be hard-pressed to ever reach its true potential.
Sadly, under Governor Murphy, hope and opportunity have been sorely lacking. In fact, according to the NJ Black Economic Justice Commission and other recent news reports:
- 80% of New Jersey’s poorest zip codes are majority Black and Brown; poverty in our cities ranges from 28% in Newark to 37% in Atlantic City; and less than 2% of the state’s public contracts go to Black business owners.
- Less than 5% of initial COVID vaccines went to the Black community, and deaths among Blacks rose by 68% during the pandemic – nearly three times higher than whites.
- Black people make up 13% of New Jersey’s population, but 50% of the homeless population. Where are the opportunities for homeownership Governor Murphy promised?
Mr. President, this sad state of affairs is why I am writing you. Today’s endorsement of a Democratic Governor by a former Democratic President won’t surprise anyone. However, I am hopeful that your presence brings attention to these abject failures by Governor Murphy.
To that end, I wanted to share with you a letter penned on March 15, 2021 by the Reverend Dr. David Jefferson, Sr., Esq. of Newark’s Metropolitan Baptist Church and addressed to the Democratic National Chairman, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman, and the Essex County Democratic Chairman. It unflinchingly holds Governor Murphy accountable for failing the Black community. Pastor Jefferson called Governor Murphy “a ‘poster child’ for the disingenuous politician talking the talk, but not walking the walk.”
Pastor Jefferson went on to recount that the Black community strongly supported Governor Murphy in 2017 – delivering him 94% of the vote – after the governor “trumpeted loudly his deep devotion to the Black community, to other minorities, and to women…and once elected, forgot about them.”
Frankly, Mr. President, it doesn’t have to be this way. New Jersey can do better; and when I am Governor, we will. Under a Ciattarelli Administration we will, among other initiatives:
Build on the success of charter schools, expand educational choice, and fulfill the state’s obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education to all its children.
Expand the role of faith-based organizations in the community and work to strengthen the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement.
Foster economic investment with bold redevelopment efforts through private/public partnerships that involve and incentivize local governments and community members in the decision-making process from Day One.
Promote entrepreneurship and minority-owned business by ensuring that those who wish to open a business in the community have the resources, both financial and otherwise, needed to succeed.
Address “food deserts” and improve the access and delivery of affordable healthcare to the poor and uninsured.
If I am fortunate enough to be elected by the people of our great state on November 2, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss how we could work together to improve the lives of all our citizens and raise the level of discourse in our politics, as well.
Respectfully and sincerely,
Jack M. Ciattarelli
The Republican nominee for Governor, Jack Ciattarelli, wrote this letter to former President Barack Obama, who today is campaigning with incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.