Over 150 local officials at Statehouse on Wednesday, Christie opts for Westfield town hall

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 18:43
christiechris052411_optBY TOM HESTER SR.

Over 150 mayors and elected officials will gather in the Statehouse Annex in Trenton Wednesday morning for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities’ 20th Annual Mayors’ Legislative Day.

And for the second year, Gov. Chris Christie will not meet with them. Instead, the governor will hold a meeting with the public in Westfield. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and four of the Christie’s cabinet members will speak to the officials and take questions.

In the past, it has been traditional for governors to appear at the event where they were sometimes faced criticism or questions from an official who was a member of a rival political party. The event also receives heavy media coverage.

Eight Democratic and Republican legislators, including Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), will also address the officials and take questions.

Topics are expected to from state budgetary and policy priorities for 2012-13, to public employee sick leave benefits, affordable housing, shared public services, civil service reform, and property tax relief.

Guadagno will present a new Red Tape Commission Finding and Recommendation Report, which will be followed by a panel discussion with state Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Richard Constable, Environment Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna.

Besides Oliver, Assembly members Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) David Rible (R-Monmouth), Senators Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Samuel Thompson (R-Middlesex), Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex), East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters and Camden City Mayor Dana Redd will take part.

The day will conclude with the League’s 14th Annual Elected Officials Hall of Fame Induction.

Christie’s office did not respond when asked why the governor would not attend the League of Municipalities event.

The Westfield meeting will be Christie’s sixth town hall in the past seven weeks. At the meetings the governor has been stressing his effort to improve New Jersey’s economy, provide tax relief and improve public schools.

The meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. in the Westfield National Guard Armory, 500 Rahway Ave. The event is open to the public.