Seth Kaper Dale/Durden for NJ Governor responses

Democracy Act

What policy and/or program changes would you support to eliminate barriers to fair and open housing?

The Kaper-Dale/Durden administration will push for all municipalities to do their fair share to bring about affordable housing at a rate that brings us back to the expectations of the Mt. Laurel Agreements. We must not allow NJ to fail to integrate in terms of race and class.

We will end the “builder’s remedy” tool that has been used as the “strong hand” to force towns to comply. While that “strong hand” of a builder’s remedy has led some towns to be forced to add some affordable homes it has resulted, largely, in lots of the remaining land in towns going for high-end housing, with a small portion of affordable homes included as part of the equation.

This does not bode well for environmental conditions or traffic conditions, and it eliminates possibilities for further affordable homes to be built in areas that, because of the builder’s remedy, have now been redeveloped as high-end properties. In fact, in some towns the builder’s remedy, connected with COAH/Mt. Laurel, actually drives up the cost of real estate throughout a borough and damages the affordability of the housing in the rest of a town.

We prefer, instead, a Family SRAP remedy. For towns that fail to build sufficient affordable homes in their municipalities, especially homes for children, the remedy should be one that purely assists families in need (instead of firstly assisting builders). For every unit that a town is behind in its Mt. Laurel/COAH obligations they should be required to offer a municipality-based SRAP voucher—splitting the cost of the “state’s portion” 50/50 with the state.

In addition to these funds made available for the Family SRAP Remedy Program, we would budget at least $60 million a year in traditional SRAP funds.

While the Family SRAP remedy is being applied to a town we would have the municipality meet regularly with all possible funding agencies from the state and county, to see if there might be a way, through the Special Needs Trust Fund of HMFA and HOME (HUD) funds to build housing that would meet affordability obligations. The Special Needs Trust Fund, and other similar funds, would be replenished because the Kaper-Dale/Durden administration will not move funds for affordable housing into the General Fund to plug holes.

We will also revisit regulations that make it hard for families to have their family all under the same roof if they are living with a voucher. Rules that eliminate someone coming out of prison from living in a vouchered unit with their family, for example, need to end. A family receiving a voucher should be able to make their own decisions about who lives in a household.

Will you support proposals to increase voter participation including: early voting; same day registration; automatic voter registration; voting rights restoration for probationers and parolees?

As an independent ticket the Kaper-Dale/Durden campaign has learned a lot about the hinderances to democracy in New Jersey’s current electoral system. We do support proposals for early voting, same day registration and automatic voter registration.

In addition, we believe that no person in America, over the age of 18, should ever lose their right to vote. We run serious risk of the possibility of abusive decision-making by powerful interest groups if they can see that it is possible to suppress the vote through incarceration. We want someone in prison to be invested in civic life. We want to see that person vote for the school board candidate from the last district they lived in, before incarceration.

Finally, about the governor’s race in particular—the system in New Jersey is absolutely corrupt. The refusal of the candidates from the two-party system to publicly meet with their opponents for discussion and debate makes it very hard for voters to know their options. We would suggest that there be a requirement that any candidate who is running for office has to meet in at least 8 public forums that include a minimum of 50% of candidates on the November ballot. This must happen between the primary and early October.

There should be at least 2 of appearances in each region of the state: South Jersey, Central Jersey and North Jersey. Also, any candidate who meets that threshold, and who raises at least $50,000, should be included in the televised debates. We have a facade of a democracy in New Jersey when it comes to the governor’s race.

Anti-Poverty

What is your position on charter schools? Do you support funding them from the regular public education appropriation?

The reality of charter schools in the context of New Jersey is a complicated one. It is the failure of NJ public schools to fully integrate, and it is the profound racism and poverty implicit in our Apartheid school districts, that should make every candidate very careful before they thoughtlessly criticize the charter movement.

We want to recognize the positive things that are happening for children in many charter schools, and we want to thank those who have tried to take matters for better education into their own hands, when they have felt the state wasn’t moving from Plessy Vs. Ferguson into a Brown Vs. Board kind of state.

That being said, we want to see a moratorium on new charter schools for 2 years while we reassess what is happening with public education and education funding around this state.

We would like to see Charter Schools all be non-profit. We would like to see Charter School Boards elected by the people (if they are receiving tax dollars that is only right). We want to ensure that teachers at Charters and at Public Schools are held to the same educational and performance standards. And, ultimately, we would like to see that funding for charter schools not take away from funding streams that are intended to bring some form of equity to our most impoverished urban school districts.

If it were the case that we were fully funding all districts at the levels of the School Funding Formula from 2008, we could have a different conversation about this. However, at a time when districts have not been able to live up to the mandates of the funding formula it is hard to watch money following the child right out of traditional public education.

Within the first 100 days of a Kaper-Dale/Durden administration we will assemble a commission called “The Black-Ribbon Commission” that will focus on key issues of structural racism in the state. Redistricting our schools will be a central part of that conversation. The results of an honest redistricting conversation might impact the charter discussion in ways that break us out of our pro-charter/ anti-charter dichotomy.

What policies will you pursue to alleviate poverty and promote economic mobility in communities with high concentration of economic distress.

Health Care Funding through Single-Payer Brings About the Greatest Economic Changes in Distressed Communities

While we have spoken about things like redistricting and SRAP-remedies—programs that force integration where it doesn’t exist—there is a lot that can be done to alleviate poverty and enhance opportunity within our communities right now.

Firstly, if New Jersey moves to a Single-payer Medicare For All health plan we will see an economic boom like we haven’t seen in years. Medicare for all will, of course, mean robust health care for everyone, but it also will have tremendous economic benefits.

Employers will want to settle in New Jersey, since they know that health insurance won’t be a hassle constantly before them.

Employees will see wage increases, as employers won’t have to pay for high-cost health insurance plans anymore.

Employers can hire more full-time workers, since they won’t run the risk of having to provide health insurance for full-time employees.

Employees can change jobs without the fear of losing benefits.

Municipal budgets won’t be hindered by 19% of their budget going to unregulated health insurance plans that go straight into the pockets of insurance companies. Less costs, and still great coverage for teachers. More money will be directed to schools and other important community initiatives.

The state pension deficit will fall away, if the state starts paying into a Single-Payer plan, instead of a for-profit, unregulated plan, for state workers.

Marijuana

Since the war on drugs began African-Americans have suffered because of the way marijuana possession is criminalized. It is time to stop calling something illegal that was only illegal because of a racist set of policies that made it such. If marijuana is legalized less people will go to jail. Less people in jail in distressed neighborhoods is good for communities.

Furthermore, dispensaries, and the whole marijuana industry, should first benefit the disenfranchised communities that have suffered because of its illegality. Rather than Wall Street controlling the legalized marijuana industry, we must have a people’s economy.
This industry belongs to marginalized communities.

After-School Centers, Summer Camps, Organized Sports, Childcare Centers, Pre-School

The state of New Jersey has really let many key services slide. Around the state we speak to people who could say, “when I was a kid we used to have…” but who say today, “now there is nothing for my kids.” For the sake of children, and for the sake of the economic well-being of the whole society, NJ state government must creatively find ways to more properly fund and encourage after-school programs, summer camps, organized sports and licensed childcare centers and pre-schools. New Jersey workers, if they are to be able to take care of their children, need the system to help provide the coverage needed for full-time employment.

$15 Now, Equal Pay for Equal Work & Really and Truly Ban the Box

Finally, minimum wage has to increase to $15/hour, women and men need equal pay for equal work, and there should be a huge reduction of the hindrances to employment by folks formerly incarcerated.

Fair & Effective Policing

What steps will you take to eliminate racial discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system, particularly in the area of juvenile justice? Will you support funding for and the development of more community-based juvenile intervention programs?

The Kaper-Dale/Durden campaign fully commits to closing the youth prisons Jamesburg and Hayes. It is well-known that youth incarceration is not only cruel, it is ineffective. The recidivism rate of those locked away as youth is frighteningly high. Therapeutic approaches to correction that involve communities, pastors, coaches and families, are much more effective. NJ needs to close its youth prisons down completely so it can start from scratch and build a more just corrections system for youth. It’s possible that a small network of group homes, scattered around the state could provide the kind of secure setting for a handful of youth who might actually need it. Of the 300 or so youth in jail in New Jersey approximately 15 are white. Apparently we’ve been coming up with alternatives to jail for white youth for a long time. It is time to use that same way of thinking for black youth.

We will encourage station house adjustments at a high level in every community. We will utilize some of the 60 million dollars saved by closing Jamesburg and Hayes to fund community boards for youth correction. These boards will work with local police, as a separate community entity, to offer support to a youth who has received a station house adjustment. The goal will be wrap around support for any youth who is heading down a dangerous road. The more connections one has the better chance he/she has of making a turn toward a way of peace.

We will also take some of the savings from closing Jamesburg and Hayes and redirect it toward things like summer camp programs, after-school program peer support stipends, professional-internships and special training programs. These opportunities are some of the most important for real change.

We would work hard to end the differentiation of behavioral restricting models that punish black kids and nurture white kids. The school to prison pipeline, it seems, is largely buttressed when law and enforcement is the approach taken to kids in school. It is wrong for kids to be taught, at a young age, that they are a danger and need restriction in order to be corrected.

In addition to these reflections on youth and criminal justice we have many policies that have to do with policing and correction for adults. Among them: banish solitary confinement (for youth and adults), give Assembly and Senate members subpoena power to get details on suspected abuses within jails and prisons, develop civilian police review boards that have broad subpoena and investigatory powers, pass and utilize the racial and ethnic impact statement not only for future legislation but also to revisit past convictions through a new lens.