Civil Service. Economic Development.
Supporting our veterans, police, and firemen.
As we head into the campaign, the stranglehold and predicament our current leaders in our State have put the residents in Paul Dilks and Steve Pakradooni have decided to fight for solutions to lower the tax burden for every resident in New Jersey. We need to loosen the stranglehold on local government and make changes that, in Paul and Steve's opinion, will only help economic growth. As wee see States around the country surge to prosperity, New Jersey residents have see little impact as businesses and residents leave New Jersey. The core issues that stymie growth are the bureaucracy and government standing in the way. How many times have you heard New Jersey is not a business friendly State. That stigma needs to change and Paul and Steve will fight for small and large business owners as they look to thrive and prosper like other areas of the country. We need to put an end to the special concessions that are now being investigated by the democratic party that approved them. It forces Steve and Paul to say...draining the swamp in South Jersey in New Jersey isn't enough, we need to dredge the sludge.
Giving Back and Making a Difference
For the last 10 years, Paul has been very active in his community. He is a member of the Washington Township Rotary, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and the coordinator for The Kathy Megee Memorial Holiday Meals Program. Paul was asked by the Knights of Columbus to add up the amount of hours in the last 12 months that he gave back to his community. After realizing it totaled over 200 hours, Paul realized how blessed he was with each opportunity.
Serving with the Washington Township Rotary this year, Paul participated with the American Red Cross in their campaign to put smoke detectors in the homes of families who needed them. Most people do not realize a smoke detector should be replaced every 10 years. He also donates blood a few times a year to the Red Cross.
The Knights of Columbus provides him with opportunities to give back, including cooking breakfast for different events in the church. Opportunities have included fundraising campaigns for children with disabilities, for the Alzheimer's Association, and for scholarships. The Knights were also the initial foot soldiers for the Kathy Megee Memorial Holiday Meals program. Kathy started the program when she found out that Meals on Wheels doesn't deliver on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter. She received support from local businesses and started a program to feed those in need in the region. Kathy passed away four years ago, but her legacy lives on as we currently deliver about 400 meals on each of these holidays. It is not only Knights who volunteer; we have people of all backgrounds and faiths that participate.
There is nothing that lifts up a community more than the people that give back. For this reason Paul would like to start a civil service organization in South Jersey asking local businesses to give back. If you are a contractor in the region, Paul will be asking you to give one job per year to someone in need. This organization will be asking people and businesses to give their time, talents, and donations to assist people who don't have the resources to make sorely needed repairs.
Paul believes there should be an outlet for students entering 11th grade to go to trade or vocational school if they feel that college is not for them. That way, at age 18 they can enter the workforce and be productive immediately without student loans, as it would be part of the education platform of local school districts. Paul will ask local unions for their assistance as we strategize and make this educational platform materialize. This region was once thriving as vocational schools turned many of our high school students into skilled, productive, and successful employees and contractors. We need to create an atmosphere of learning where students have a real alternative to college. As anyone who has been making a great living in a trade can testify, college isn't and shouldn't be the only pathway to a wonderful career. We are creating white-collar country when we also need people with strong blue-collar skills.
Immigration and Sanctuary State Status
What Governor Murphy has imperiled residents in the State by offering our State as sanctuary for illegal immigrants is a tragedy. As we hear of crimes committed by some of these individuals, we can't help but wonder what is the motivation. If one person commits a crime due to or sanctuary status, that is one to many and every resident has the right to be protected. Steve and Paul will fight to put and end to all of the talk and insure the safety of every resident who is here legally as should every elected official in New Jersey.
The Arts in South Jersey
Paul remembers growing up as a child in South Jersey and going to Philly to a dinner theater called the Riverfront Dinner Theatre. It broke his heart when it was closed. In his vision for South Jersey, Paul would like to bring the dinner theater concept here with not just one, but a few locations with weekly performances. Various local restaurants would participate, bringing guests a variety of menus and food and getting for themselves a chance to attract new customers.
South Jersey also has many parks that theater companies could make use of. Promote a Shakespeare in the Park, Washington Township, for example, has its own amphitheater that could accommodate unique drama events.
If it were not for Pitman Theater in our district, the arts would not exist and South Jersey has talent. For the most part, people in South Jersey need to go to Philly for the majority of their Arts entertainment. We will look to make this a priority in South Jersey.
Transportation: The PATCO extension that has been talked about since the 70s, this proposed extension from Camden to Glassboro is going to be needed more than ever with the economic growth of Glassboro and the expansion of Rowan University. This would alleviate strain on the highways, which has only gotten worse over the last decade. Uncorking the bottleneck of traffic would help a lot of people personally, reducing the stress of the frustrating commute where you're yearning just to get home after a long day of work.
Convention Center: South Jersey needs one. There is at least one area, for example, in Gloucester Township or Washington Township. A convention center in our district would be located within 30 miles of two international airports. Given all the medical facilities in the region, it would be sustainable.
A New Focus: Economic development of our region can't reach its full potential by concentrating on that one area. South Jersey has so many great features! We are half way from New York to Washington and a stone's throw to Philly, so our location has many advantages, but there's at least one drawback: South Jersey is in desperate need of an identity to call its own, distinct from Philadelphia and separate from North Jersey. Many Americans think of New Jersey as New York's backyard. ("Which Turnpike exit are you from?") People from Philly don't come to Jersey just for the heck of it unless it's to the Jersey Shore. They drive by, seeing nothing but road signs on their way past us. South Jersey people go to Philly to see sports teams, concerts, and even to just eat out. Creating an environment and culture where South Jerseyans would rather stay than go elsewhere is critical to our success. Paul and Steve would like to see local ad campaigns to attract businesses. Ask Campbell's Soup, Subaru, RCA, and other local companies to help create commercials and social media marketing campaigns that get the word out that South Jersey is open for business.
Baseball: South Jersey used to have a very viable minor league baseball team, the Camden Riversharks. Paul and his son fondly remember going to Riversharks games, soaking up the great atmosphere of that stadium, enjoying the excitement of the game, the fireworks, and the entertainment between innings. Paul would love to figure out a way to re-create that, perhaps in Glassboro or near Rowan University or in Washington Township or Williamstown. If we had great baseball action in our own area, you could spend a fun evening at the ballpark without the traffic nightmare.
Hope for South Jersey: We are at a time in South Jersey where we need a local wave of new industries and technologies. We need to take the lead, opening our front door and making the world aware that South Jersey is open for business. For this reason we need a leader. We do not need a political boss, who dictates virtually everything that goes on in South Jersey. Far too many people are leaving this state in search of other opportunities because our cost of living has risen to ridiculous heights. Paul and Steve will be working for South Jersey residents in Trenton. They feel strongly that they can make a difference for South Jersey in policy making at the State level.
At the top of Paul and Steve's priorities for their constituents will be tax relief, we will oppose any new tax increase without and equal reduction in spending. New Jersey is the highest taxed State in the nation. Until we bring our spending under control, there will be no tax relief. Steve and Paul will take out their pencils and erasers to bring back fiscal responsibility to New Jersey.
Paul and Steve's Catholic faith drives them to say they is pro-life. They will not ashamed and will never be ashamed of this position. Rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is at risk are situations for which Paul would consider compromise.
Paul and Steve are second amendment supporters. Governor Murphy has done more to restrict legal gun owners of their rights than any governor in our history and it seems like he has only just begun. We will work to put an end to these restrictions, and roll back some of the las that have been put on the books that continue to infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners. Paul and Steve firmly believe more emphasis should be placed on teaching the principles and practices of responsible gun ownership.
We need to do more to fix this opioid crisis. Addressing this deadly issue will surely be part of Paul and Steve's plan.
Lack of Beds: There is a shortage of detox and inpatient beds for people on Medicaid and the uninsured. A lot of funding is opening up, but it's focused on medications (methadone, suboxone, etc). These are meant to be combined with other aspects of treatment which can't be done due to lack of beds. As a result, many patients are sent to outpatient prematurely--a recipe for relapse.
Coverage: State and federal direction is for medication-assisted treatment. With suboxone, for example, Medicaid covers the medication but not the doctor visits, which cost a typical patient $150 to $200 a month.
Housing: In addition to the shortage of beds, there is also a lack of sober living houses in New Jersey. Most sober living houses don't want to--or can't--take people on medication assistance, but that's what the State is putting money toward. Further, the State is in court with halfway houses right now over regulations.
Safe houses need to be a remedy. Breaking the mentality of not in my back yard is critical. It is already in everyone's backyard and everyone need to part of the solution.
The primary shelter in South Jersey is in Camden. Most of the buses in South Jersey run through Camden, making a stop there hard to avoid. Spending time in Camden is a real hazard for recovering substance users, given all the illegal drug distribution activity there.
Medical marijuana is the right medication for many people. The process is difficult, and the card costs $200 every two years. Patients have to use a New Jersey doctor, but some people's specialists are in Pennsylvania or Delaware.
Veterans and First Responders
Paul and Steve support our police, firefighters, and our veterans. Paul and Steve will make it a point to be present at various functions throughout the year. It was important to honor those who serve and are willing to put their lives on the line in a moment's notice. They are our heroes. During Paul's time on the radio he honored these heroes with a "Your Hometown Heroes" segment. He asked local police departments to sing a song from his playlist. The plan was to incorporate veterans, then fire departments into the segment. Paul did not get to see it through to the end due to the sale of the station, but he felt it was a great way to honor these heroes. Paul and Steve has been to many events, National Night out, 9/11, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day ceremonies, to pay tribute, as well as the Wreaths of Remembrance at the Veteran's Cemetery in Williamstown. Paul and Steve say we owe these people so much, and they have felt great as a citizen taking opportunities to show these heroes the respect they deserve. For this reason, the best advocate for services for these heroes will be your local Representative.