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AN INDEPENDENT VOICE: Taking the Next Step

by Dev Goswami | Independent Candidate for 38th District of NJ Congress

Much of my work with US Congressional candidate Josh Gottheimer was focused on lowering property taxes, a popular rallying cry from a people feeling overtaxed and under served. While I had my hands in the heart of the matter, I felt pulled further. A seed was planted.

“Maybe I can do this too,” I thought.

Gottheimer defeated the incumbent Republican and moved on to Washington. His victory gave me the hope and inspiration I needed to continue on with my vision. I knew what I needed to do for my community -- to run for state congressional office to reduce property taxes by combining municipalities and fighting the rampant corruption  

It is my opinion that New Jersey lacks oversight of the budgets in the municipalities. Each year state representatives increase property taxes to generate revenue to cover increased costs in education.

What is puzzling, however, is new classrooms are not being built. Schools are shoehorning more students in already overcrowded classrooms. Part time superintendents and school administrators are being paid upwards of $170k while new classrooms are not being built or staffed.

This past decade has seen a fair share of embarrassment through statewide government corruption. County Democratic Party officials had been jailed for bribery, or worse, as was one of our district’s state senators.

As a civil servant through AmeriCorps, I had a first hand view into the effects of corruption. In my case, the corruption I witnessed transcended local, state, and federal levels of misappropriation. Not only was this corruption having a negative effect within my Democratic district but the Republicans in county and state levels had become a force of total obstruction.

Neither party seemed to be interested in serving the people.

I am running for the 38th district assembly as an independent on a progressive platform. I prefer to put state and country over party by opting out of the party system. I do not want anyone controlling me like a puppet nor to get pulled into the psychological warfare of group-think dynamics.

Being a novice politician, meaning I have never run for any office at any level before, I needed to determine what I wanted to stand for. I leaned heavily on Dana Wafer’s New Jersey Awakens platform to formulate my base. I am socially progressive but have a concern for fiscal conservatism. I want to get rid of corruption and spend money effectively, while still advocating for social programs like universal health care, lowered college tuition, and repaired pensions.

Initiative and Referendum: “New Jersey is one of the only states in the country that does not allow its citizens to directly participate in our government by organizing and putting questions on the ballot for a vote. We shouldn’t have to elect a whole new government to get common sense government and political reforms.”

Ranked Choice Voting: “The two party system has shut us out of the political process. Instead of the political parties doing what we wish, we are told to fall in line with them or risk electing the other side. Ranked choice voting will amplify independent voices and free us from the bondage of two party rule.”

Open Primaries: “Most elections in both our state and the country are now decided in the primaries NOT the general election. This is a direct consequence of both parties gerrymandering our legislative districts. As a result, the political parties have effectively transferred power from the People to the parties by diluting the power of our vote. If primaries are where elections are decided, everybody should be able to participate in them.”

Fair Ballots: “Party bosses should not get to decide ballot placement.”

Redistricting: “Legislative districts should encourage competitive elections, not safe districts. Competitive elections, the free exchange of ideas, and accountability from elected officials are fundamental for a healthy democracy."

I had a vision, a desire, and a platform. I knew I wanted to run as an independent. It was time to fill out the paperwork and hit the streets.

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Dev Goswami in running as an independent for the 38th District of NJ Congress. He serves as an editorial contributor to Our Voice.

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