Collingswood resident Timothy O’Neill made headlines this week with NJ-CAN, a grassroots effort to petition registered New Jersey voters to recall Governor Chris Christie. Borough Beeswax took to the streets to see what O’Neill’s neighbors think.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” said Ann Landen of Delran over a cup of coffee at the Collingswood Farmers' Market Saturday morning.
“You have to pull up your big-girl panties and stop that financial hemorrhage,” she said.
Her husband, Dick, said that although he disagrees with the specific idea of recalling Christie, efforts like O’Neill’s are part of the fabric of democracy.
“I think grassroots things are great,” Dick Landen said. “I don’t happen to agree, but that’s what Americans are made of.”
Working the farmers' market administrative booth, Sharon Padea of Laurel Springs concurred that Christie’s political agenda represents necessary, if unpopular, sacrifices.
“I feel as though he’s been misunderstood because he’s taken so much from the schools and boroughs,” Padea said. “But he did what had to be done. He’s straightening out the NJEA, he’s straightening out the boroughs that should be combining their services.”
Pennsauken resident Bill Summers, who works with the state pension system, had a different impression.
“They want us to pay more into the pensions; I believe they’re going to ask us to pay more for our health benefits next,” he said.
Summers, who declined to be photographed for Borough Beeswax, said that he “would love to see” O’Neill’s initiative succeed, but “at this point, I don’t know that it’s really going to help New Jersey residents.”
“I don’t know that the next guy is going to do any better,” Summers said.
Anthony Destefanis of Audubon shares Summers’ reservations about the success of any such recall vote.
“I doubt it would be successful, but I’m willing to help,” Destefanis said.
Destefanis said that he disagrees with Christie’s statewide belt-tightening measures because “he’s doing it at the expense of the poor and middle classes, refusing to ask people at the top to shoulder the burden.”
Destefanis teaches in Vineland and said that Cumberland County “is feeling the effects of the recession more than other places. If a recall vote were to be enacted, he said his ideal candidate would be “somebody willing to demand accountability to the corporations that get [tax] breaks if they don’t use them to create jobs.”
Linda and Barry Lee of Haddon Township understand well the concept of recall elections; the couple said they had participated in a movement to remove the mayor of that municipality.
Linda Lee said that the threat of a recall election could potentially exert political pressure on Governor Christie to support the middle class.
“He should focus more on New Jersey and less on his national image,” she said. “That’s not what we elected him for.”
Barry Lee joked that the only reasons politicians get impeached are either for improperly handling money or being caught in a sex scandal, but he was serious when talking about Christie’s use of the line-item veto in cutting specific funds from the state budget.
“He’s a bully,” said Barry Lee. “His obnoxious approach leaves a lot to be desired.”