As the race for the New Jersey Governor’s seat accelerates toward its November finish, there is a LGBT independent candidate running. Gina Genovese, the former mayor of Long Hill, has gotten into the race against former Goldman Sacks executive Phil Murphy, and current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. Genovese, a veteran of lowering property taxes and municipal consolidation reform, is using that as her main campaign platform. Guadagno, the Republican nominee, is also using it as one of her campaign platforms.
“It’s the reason why I’m running,” Genovese said of her platform. “It’s been my journey for the last 12 years. I’m probably the foremost expert on municipal consolidation and I’ve spent the last eight years working around the state with local officials, so my experience has made me realize we can reduce property taxes by 15%. It’s something we have to do. When we see the indicators we’re the least feasible state in the entire country, we’re paying 30 billion vs. 3 billion for most other states. It’s not the question of how are we going to, but when. We can’t wait. The fact we’re paying 10% of the country’s tax burden just shows you that we can reduce.”
Genovese, in 2009, founded Courage to Connect NJ; a non-profit group focusing on promoting shared municipal services between towns.
“Before the financial crises, the number one question was what are you going to do about our property taxes?” Genovese said. “With the same towns doing the same municipal services, it was hurting the towns in many, many ways. At the time, Corzine had a million dollar challenge to share police departments, and I went around to mayors, who said absolutely not, over my dead body. And I realized the people had to start this movement. That is why I formed (Courage to) Connect NJ. We’ve gone around and counseled all sorts of elected officials. Most recently, the Princetons consolidated in 2013 which was successful and there was a big school regionalization in South Hunterdon in 2014.”
In 2005, Genovese became an elected official and in 2006 the first openly gay mayor of a traditionally Republican town. She is the only LGBT candidate in the race. Despite being LGBT, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy received an endorsement from Garden State Equality, the biggest LGBT rights group in the state.