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Odd men out — independents vie for governor’s office

Tired of the scandal? The cut-and-dry stances of our two-party gubernatorial candidates? Well, for the more independently minded New Jerseyan, we encourage you look into the slew of independent and third-party candidates whose names aren’t necessarily showing up on the nightly news.

Dig democracy.

Matt Thieke – Green Party

Matt Thieke, a computer programmer from Maple Shade, joined the Green Party in 2000 to work on Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. He has served as the chair of the Burlington County Greens. His platform calls for an independent audit of the state budget to reduce wasteful spending and a reduction of the dependency on property taxes through a progressive restructuring of income taxes.

Edward Forchion – Legalize Marijuana Party of South Jersey

Edward Forchion, a resident of Pemberton, is better known by his pseudonym, NJWeedman, although recently this self-proclaimed “patriotic pothead” has gone clean, as reported in The Trentonian and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Nonetheless, Forchion has proven unable to campaign without being hassled by the police. He has been arrested recently in both Seaside Heights and Trenton for handing out campaign literature promoting his platform: to solve New Jersey’s property tax and budget woes through the legalization and subsequent taxation of marijuana.

Michael Latigona – Independent

Latigona, a registered nurse from Marlton who studies the law as a hobby, runs under the seal of “Democrats and Republicans Coming Together: One People, One State, One New Jersey.” He has claimed he would address ethics, campaign finance, election and tort reform issues, if elected, through the issuance of Executive Orders, the first of which would order the legislature to rewrite the state tax code.

Hector Castillo – Independent

New Jersey, in keeping with its proud tradition of pay-to-play, has a law that states that only candidates who have raised over $300,000 can participate in general election gubernatorial debates.

Along with Jeffery Pawlowski, Castillo is one of two non-mainstream candidates to gain access to a second debate. He was not, however, granted a spot in last week’s debate, and staged a vigil with a handful of supporters outside NJN studios in Trenton. He is running under the “education, not corruption” slogan.

Jeffery Pawlowski – Libertarian

After being denied a spot in last week’s debate, despite his $300,000 campaign, Pawlowski is scheduled to appear alongside Castillo in debates on Oct. 18 and Oct. 20. Pawlowski is an ex-democrat and former Sayreville Borough Councilman.

He pledges to support second amendment rights, to fight eminent domain seizures and to end programs such as “Click-it or Ticket,” which he claims bogs down law enforcement by “setting up roadblocks to look into your vehicles for offenders.” And like Forchion, he supports the legalization of marijuana.

Wesley K. Bell – Independent

Wesley Bell is a democrat-turned-independent who served five terms as mayor of Stafford Township. He was voted the best politician in Ocean County in 2004 by readers of Times-Beacon Newspapers, a South Jersey media group. Bell’s platform is built mainly on cutting waste from what he sees as a grossly overweight state bureaucracy.

He would abolish the Department of Environmental Protection and the office of Administrative Law, transferring their authority to other agencies.

He opposes selling the state’s toll roads to private companies, an idea that has been tossed around by government officials recently.


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