“In the throes of an opioid epidemic, how could you possibly want to legally sanction (recreational marijuana)?” Scharfenberger said. “This is not the time or the place to be doing this.” “Whether that means starting over, starting with a blank slate,” she said, “but it is a mess. It’s not fair to the residents here.” AFFORDABLE HOUSING “So I think that we’re on the right path togetting our infrastructure rebuilt,” she said. “The train is going to have to step up or really be lost,” DiMaso said. Gerry Scharfengerger, a Republican freeholder is seeking a new job as an Assemblyman. DiMaso, 56, started her political career onthe Holmdel Township Committee in 2002and was named in 2012 to fill a vacant seat onthe Monmouth County freeholder board. Shewas elected to the Legislature in 2017. He cited his opposition to the “sanctuary state” policy that the Murphy administration has imposed. The state has limited the cooperation between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. In September, the administration forced the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office to end a cooperation agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Democratic Party candidates Allison Friedman and Barbara Singer want to represent parts of Monmouth at the state level. “The only time I would come down and sayyou must consolidate would be if the townshipwas asking the state for more money to getthem out of a hole,” Friedman said. IMMIGRATION Singer said she believes in affordablehousing, but questions the system that isused to develop a town’s quota. In November, all 80 seats in the Assembly will be up for vote. At the moment, Democrats hold a 54-26 majority. But the 13th Legislative district is seen as a GOP citadel, spanning seaside communities like Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright to parts of the Bayshore like Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. An open seat in the district occurred when Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin declined to run for re-election. Friedman also said she feels the governoris “for the working class” and wants to “liftthem up as a viable way to get our economyout of what is really a sluggish state.” Scharfenberger criticized the so-called millionaire’s tax that Gov. Murphy and other Democrats have favored. He pointed to the impact that would have on small business owners, even though Friedman said she supports the tax. Friedman and Singer por trayed DiMaso as ineffective and wrong on gun safety. Friedman faulted DiMaso for voting against a bill requiring safe gun storage. THE CANDIDATES DiMaso said Murphy has a “far left” vision for the state and felt that her two Democratic opponents had no “governmental knowledge.” “I just think that they will just continue theMurphy agenda,” DiMaso said. “They seemto be supportive of his thoughts on taxation.We can’t keep taxing every single thing thatmoves.” Rather, she called for revamping affordable housing rules and said the current system allows people to live in affordable housing even if their income has grown to a point where they otherwise would not be eligible to reside there. Scharfenberger, a board member of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes, said the way to do affordable housing is to rehabilitate blighted houses. “I don’t think it saves anybody any money, in the long run, to work with ICE,” Friedman said. “I think it adds to more destruction of families than it does anywhere else, because you have good people, who may be undocumented…getting picked up who are not the problems.” INFRASTRUCTURE “We seem to be giving a lot of market-ratehousing to developers in exchange for thataffordable housing,” she said. “I don’t know that the formula that they have to come up with how many affordable units a township has to have is completely correct,” Friedman said. “But what’s happening now, I think, is bad, because townships are rushing to satisfy this need.” Scharfenberger said ridership on NJ Transit has declined, and that commuters in Monmouth County are increasingly turning to ferry service. He said he thought the agency needed changes in its leadership, with “some innovation coming at the top.” “I want somebody who’s more effective in the Assembly, not somebody who can just put a lot of bills forth but not get them through committee and onto the floor and voted on,” Singer said. Singer said she opposed the state compelling small towns in New Jersey to merge with other communities. “I don’t like being called a politician, because I feel like I’m a public servant,” said DiMaso, a full-time lawmaker. Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-13) is running for re-election in the 13th Legislative district. “I think we have a lot of low-level…drugusers that are now being criminalized, thatdon’t have to be, that can be removed fromthat criminal system and put on a betterpath,” Singer said. DRUGS ANDGUNS AND TAXES Friedman, 46, of Aberdeen, is the president of the Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education and is employed in the state public defender’s office. She lost her previous race for Assembly, in 2013. If elected, she would have to give up her state job. Seven years since Super Storm Sandy ravaged the state, parts of Monmouth County still are rebuilding. Asked if the state’s infrastructure is stronger since the storm, DiMaso said utility JCP&L “still needs to do a lot more. And they are.” She said the power company had received approval from state regulators to do infrastructure upgrades. “A lot of the frustration that you have from serving as, like, mayor or freeholder, comes from a lot of things that you’re told, ‘Well, it needs a legislative fix,’ ” he said. “Having come up through the ranks at the local level, we understand property taxes. We understand what affects them.” “I definitely don’t think local law enforcement should be enforcing these laws,” she said. “They need to work within the community and develop bonds within the community.” Singer offered a different take on the issue. NJ TRANSIT Commenting on NJ Transit, Friedmansaid she thinks the transportation agency “isclearly not run appropriately” and needs to befixed. “The purpose of affordable housing was to give young people and people that are just starting out, no matter what their age, an ability to own a home,” she said. “It’s supposed to be a hand up, not a hand out. And what it’s turned out to be is people don’t leave.” Singer faulted JCP&L for not doing routine maintenance on its lines and utility poles. “So we really need to keep an eye on the utilities,” she said. “You see all around the country wherepeople who shouldn’t be let out are releasedand they go on to commit greater crimes,” hesaid. “And this has nothing to do with peoplewho are here necessarily illegally and sortof not getting into trouble. These are peoplewho were arrested for serious crimes. And Ijust don’t see protecting that.” From their views on Gov. Phil Murphy’s job performance to marijuana legalization, the four candidates in the 13th Legislative district weighed in on those and other issues facing the state during interviews with The Two River Times. Across New Jersey, towns are having tomeet mandated affordable housing quotasset by state judges. But DiMaso said she doesnot see a housing crisis in the state. Singer, 51, of Holmdel, is also a lawyer. She lost three races for Holmdel Township Committee in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Among her policy views, she said she favored voluntary consolidation of school districts in the state. She pointed to how Highlands and Atlantic Highlands merged districts and saved taxpayers millions of dollars. But both women lauded Murphy for providing $10 million to help communities and others to implement shared ser vice agreements and study school mergers. The Assembly contest comes midterm for Murphy. Scharfenberger, fired from his state job in 2018 for not attending a Murphy press conference, said he and the governor, policy-wise, are “probably as diametrically opposed as you can get.” But Singer said she and Friedman are not “career politicians” in contrast to their Republican opponents. “Different administrations have been talking about consolidation of services for 20 plus years,” Friedman said. “And nobody has managed to do it. This is the first real step.” By Philip Sean Curran Positioning themselves against the Democratic governor, DiMaso and Scharfenberger oppose legalizing recreational marijuana and giving state driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. She and Singer said they support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Scharfenberger, 60, an adjunct faculty member at Monmouth University, has followed a similar path as DiMaso. He entered politics as a member of the Middletown Township Committee in 2005. He was chosen by Republicans to replace DiMaso on the freeholder board in 2018 after she left to join the Legislature and then won a seat on the five-member freeholder board later that year. Republican Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and her running mate Monmouth County Freeholder Gerry P. Scharfenberger face Democrats Allison Friedman and Barbara Singer on Nov. 5 in a contest for two Assembly seats representing parts of suburban Monmouth County. “We’re looking to get the work done for thepeople,” Singer said.