New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not one to sit back and take it when he’s approached in public by someone with a bone to pick with him. Whether it’s at a Brewers/Cubs’ game in Milwaukee or while taking a leisurely stroll on a Jersey Shore Boardwalk, if you come at Christie, Christie is coming at you.
Our latest example of Christie Confrontations happened Tuesday morning as Christie and his wife were leaving their polling site in Mendham Township, New Jersey. In a video captured by Nick Corasanti of The New York Times, Christie was asked by Victoria Giambra, also of Mendham Township, why, during his eight years in office, he didn’t merge the township with nearby Mendham Borough.
“Because I can’t,” Christie replied.
Christie elaborated somewhat, saying that “I don’t have the authority to do it.”
Of course it didn’t end there as Christie talked over Giambra, saying that it was easy for her to stand on the sidelines and critique.
“You live in Mendham Township. You want to merge Mendham Township and Mendham Borough, run for the township committee of Mendham Township committee and be the voice to do it. No I know, cause that’s too hard. It’s easier, it’s easier to sit here and complain.”
It’s around the one minute mark, when the camera pans towards Giambra, that you realize that she’s walking away. Yet he’s still there, holding court as his wife, Mary Pat Christie watches on, smiling in a way that could only be described as “uncomfortably.”
Giambra said she voted for Phil Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor, who is running against Christie’s current Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
As far as Giambra’s issue, that Christie should have merged Mendham Township and Mendham Borough, it’s actually one that has become relatively common in New Jersey, as taxes in the state have risen to the point where they are some of the highest in the country. New Jersey currently has 565 municipalities and that high number means more police, fire departments and municipal services.
Murphy has said that part of his plan to reduce taxes in the state is to call for towns to share services, especially police, a call echoed by an op-ed on NJ.com in August written by Gina Genovese, an independent running for governor.
“So sharing police must be the answer. Unfortunately the current law that towns need to use to share police is unworkable. The joint meeting requires towns to create an additional governing body to oversee the shared police department. There have been multiple attempts by towns to do this, but none were able to manage this overly complex process and form a shared department.”
Christie himself had been in favor of merging towns, saying in 2014 that “we have to start sharing services among these like towns, and I think we should do much more of what Princeton just did, which was to merge the two towns.”
Yet a poll conducted by The Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University in 2014 showed that only 45 percent of Garden State residents supported consolidating towns and municipal services.