Four years ago, I ran for Governor against Chris Christie in the June Republican Primary. This year, I am supporting Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli for Governor. In my opinion, he is the only Republican running a serious statewide campaign against Christie’s hand-picked Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.
I believe Ciattarelli is the only candidate willing and able to fix the damage done to Atlantic City and the rest of Atlantic County by Christie during the past eight years.
Christie began his mismanagement of Atlantic City in 2010 during his first month in office. Christie made a deal with Sweeney Democrats to bail out the failed Revel Casino project with big state tax breaks and $400 million in state government loans.
Christie then worked with Democrats to strip Atlantic City voters of their right to petition for a public vote to block local government loans and tax breaks for the project.
In October 2010, Christie’s state officials took over the finances of Atlantic City government. They sued Atlantic City for spending more than it collected in violation of the state’s Local Budget Law. But when the state took over, Christie’s state officials let Atlantic City spend roughly $80 million more than it took in for each of the next seven years. The state gave this city of 38,000 roughly $600 million of debt.
Things got so bad that by 2016, even casinos could no longer afford the taxes needed to pay for this. Last year, Christie made another deal with Democrats to give the casinos ten years of tax breaks. That was on top of the 110 outlet shops and restaurants and 3,500 “affordable” housing units that already paid PILOT (Peanuts In Lieu of Taxes). Now, everyone else in Atlantic County is facing big tax hikes to make up the difference.
While Kim Guadagno quietly stood by Christie, Jack Ciattarelli stood up to Christie, spoke out, and voted against this. Ciattarelli is the only candidate for Governor who spoke in favor of a municipal bankruptcy for Atlantic City. As an MBA/CPA and incredibly successful business owner, Ciattarelli knows bankruptcy is the only legal way to cut unsustainable debt and taxes and to have an impartial judge force everyone, including Wall Street investors and casinos to equally share the sacrifice.
It has been my experience that what happens to New Jersey happens to Atlantic City first. The same pay-to-play political culture that ruined Atlantic City for all but a handful of insiders is causing the same problems all over the state. During the next few weeks, I will do everything I can to point out specific examples, and how Jack Ciattarelli is the only candidate for Governor with the ability and willingness to fix them.