Republican candidates Vince Sera and Brenda Taube are seeking to bring a fresh perspective to the state Assembly, using their business and education backgrounds in Atlantic County.
The candidates, who are running against Vince Mazzeo and John Armato in the 2nd Legislative District, say their top priorities would be to bring jobs back to Atlantic County and work to lower taxes and cut red tape for businesses.
They also warn of a resurgence of interest in building casinos in North Jersey and have vowed to fight against that if it ever comes up again in Trenton.
“The biggest problem we have in the state of New Jersey is that we are overtaxed,” Sera said during an editorial board meeting with The Press of Atlantic City. “We have an environment where there is so much taxation and so much red tape on businesses, people are leaving the state.”
To bring jobs back to the county, both Sera and Taube said they would work to create tax incentives throughout the county, specifically by designating the area around Atlantic City International Airport as a Garden State Growth Zone.
That designation has received bipartisan support from all candidates running for office in the 2nd District.
“The aerospace industry has been identified as a big opportunity for us,” Taube said. “It’s not only going to diversify our economy, it’s going to bring in highly skilled workers and high-paying jobs.”
Another factor in bringing jobs back, they say, is working to fix the perception that Atlantic City is not a safe place to visit.
“There are cars lined up on the (Atlantic City Expressway) to go down to Cape May County, and there is a reason for that,” Sera said. “Atlantic City hasn’t been focused on being a family-oriented place. It’s been all about casinos.”
Both Sera and Taube believe the state takeover of Atlantic City should end as soon as possible. They chided the state for trying to cut public-safety contracts as a way to save money.
If elected, Taube would become the first assemblywoman in the 2nd Legislative District since Dolores Cooper retired in 1991.
Previously, Taube was elected as the first female commissioner in Margate before losing a re-election campaign in 2015.
“I think as women, and also as mothers, we bring a different perspective to the table,” Taube said. “But I don’t think it’s a matter of just being a woman. It’s about being the right woman. I want to be elected to the State Assembly because I’m the most qualified candidate for the job. I think my experience and record show that.”
During her time as a commissioner in Margate, Taube helped spearhead an audit of the municipal government and avoided tax increases for four consecutive years.
Prior to holding office, Taube owned a frozen yogurt franchise with businesses in Atlantic City and Margate.
She has also served as the assistant director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, where she assisted local small-business owners in starting and growing their businesses.
“My business acumen and experience helping New Jersey small-business owners grow their business from the ground up gives me a unique understanding for what our businesses and families need to be successful in Atlantic County,” she said.
Sera was a lifeguard in Brigantine for 19 years. He was a legislative aide for former state Sen. Bill Gormley for three years and then became a teacher. He is now in real estate and is a councilman in Brigantine.
“I got into government because I was tired of empty promises and the political games,” he said. “One of the things I’ve noticed with government is that, like education, you can have an impact on people’s lives.”