Political infighting is an inevitable consequence of seeking and holding public office in New Jersey. Office holders in leadership positions often have strong opinions about which direction the State should take in pursuit of a healthy and prosperous future. Public disagreement and debate can be a positive exercise for all New Jerseyans, as open rhetoric brings the issues to the forefront of group discussions in search of positive solutions.
Unfortunately, political rivalry can be ugly, and be based on a personal animus that one office holder may hold toward another. Such appears to be the case of Governor Christie’s attitude and recent actions toward former Governor and current State Senator Richard Codey. The Senator has, on occasion, employed a standard practice for former governors by using a State vehicle for specific public events. The longtime practice was created in the interest of safety and the protection of former State executives. Recently the Governor has sought to eliminate Codey’s public transportation privileges.
Given that Codey has not been afraid to publicly disagree with the current Governor, non-partisan observers cannot help but see a standard vindictive retaliation by Christie against those who disagree with him.
The public desperately needs to hear from public officials who represent all sides on issues that impact the State’s welfare. In these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to stifle any public opinion, provided that it is presented respectfully in search of creating a better New Jersey.
Richard Codey, who served as our 53rd Governor, has been a champion of people with disabling conditions, especially those with mental illness, fighting for their civil rights long before he became Governor upon James McGreevy’s resignation in 2004. He has also fought for the health and welfare of all New Jerseyans, fighting for the elimination of smoking in confined, indoor areas. Although Codey often raises the ire of the Governor and his Staff, petty retaliation by the Governor belittles his office and weakens the image of our State.
Codey served in the State Assembly and as Senate President before becoming the State’s chief executive. He is as opinionated as any politician and any New Jerseyan. However, the unprofessional actions that Governor Christie has taken toward Codey do not serve our State well.
New Jersey deserves better.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.