STONE HARBOR — The need to create jobs was a top concern among the six candidates for Congress who spoke Tuesday night at a Cape May County candidates’ forum.
The Cape May County League of Women Voters held the event in a meeting room at the Wetlands Institute, in the marshes outside of Stone Harbor. About 70 people attended. As the candidates for the state’s 2nd Congressional District spoke, mobile sculptures of birds silently rotated above the audience’s heads.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican, said that he had spent much of his life working for the family trucking firm. He knows the challenges of businesses, he said, and added that he was “particularly offended when President (Barack) Obama said if you have a business, you didn’t build it.”
While Obama was referring to successful businesses using public infrastructure, LoBiondo said that his family’s trucking firm survived on the family’s initiative, and the comments “were something that really offended me because that was their view of business.”
Cassandra Shober, the Democratic candidate, said she is running for Congress because she does not like what was happening in the nation. She is also concerned about the high unemployment in Cape May County as well as the area’s poor health and other rankings in surveys.
Shober also said the nation needs to stop shipping jobs overseas.
LoBiondo said government needs to give certainty to businesses, and that small businesses don’t know what the tax rates will be next year. He added that more than 11,000 pages of federal regulations have been created in the past three years.
He said that he is proud of his work for the district, including helping fight off efforts to move the Cape May Coast Guard base and assisting efforts to develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township.
During the question-and-answer period at the end, LoBiondo said he opposes privatization of Social Security, but defended his vote for a budget proposal that would have changed Medicare to a voucher system for younger people. The proposal, by U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, was “the first responsible document” to deal with the future of the nation’s entitlement programs, LoBiondo said.
Shober told Tuesday’s audience that women’s issues are economic issues. Women earn less and pay more for health care, she said. At the same time, more women are the heads of households and make household purchasing decisions.
She said federal lawmakers have proposed more than 1,100 pieces of legislation regarding women and women’s health that she said degrade women.
“We have to get Congress out of our bedrooms and get us back to work,” Shober said.
She also criticized LoBiondo for voting against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which changed the statute of limitations for fair-pay disputes.
During the question-and-answer period Tuesday, Shober said she would like to serve on the committees in Congress that handle the Coast Guard, agriculture and alternative energies.
Independent candidate David Bowen Sr. said that local government needs to work with state government to lower taxes.
He also proposed a flat federal income tax of between 18 and 20 percent, and called for state taxes to be a flat 5 percent for the Cape May County area.
Frank Faralli, another independent candidate, said he is pro-business. He has been a successful businessman, he said, “kind of like a mini-Romney but without the offshore accounts.”
Faralli said he has “a special affinity for the poor and minorities,” would save the government money on every level, and that he wants to eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual offenses.
Charles Lukens, another independent candidate, said he is running to restore the U.S. Constitution and encourage people to turn back to God. He would not vote to extend the national debt, and said voters need to “sweep out the Republican House establishment.”
He wants to abolish the Federal Reserve, returning the currency to the Treasury, and proposed a special new national anti-corruption court that would be funded by a 2.5 percent assessment on every county court’s budget.
John Ordille, the Libertarian Party candidate, said that he is running for office because he has seen businesses close while driving his United Parcel Service route throughout Cape May County. “I don’t blame the Congressman (LoBiondo). I blame the system for that,” he said.
He said he wanted to reform the tax code, end the nation’s wars and reduce its debt load. Ordille said that would help bring a strong economy back.
Tuesday’s event also included two candidates apiece for seats on the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders and for county surrogate. The surrogate is an elected position overseeing wills and estates.
Walter Deegan, the Democratic freeholder candidate, said his goal was to recruit corporations to Cape May County to provide good paying, full-year jobs.
Republican Freeholder Len Desiderio, who followed, said he would work hard for all the citizens and residents of Cape May County.
Suzanne Sheppard, the Republican surrogate candidate, said she wants to use her legal knowledge and compassion in the job.
Jeff Sutherland, the Democratic candidate, said he wants to use his background in estate law and planning to help people, particularly those with little money.
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