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Mr. Morrisey Feels Washington Experience Puts Him in Excellent Position for Upset
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — After learning that Bob Franks would opt for United States Senate, thus passing on reelection to his Congressional seat, Republican Patrick Morrisey, 32, said he became extremely concerned that the seat might fall into the hands of Democrats.
Working in Washington the past year as counsel to the House Commerce Committee, Mr. Morrisey felt the GOP field in the Seventh District lacked someone with the federal experience to go to the nation’s capitol and “hit the ground running” on the first day of their term.
“I felt there was a need for someone to step forward who was committed to reforming Medicare, preserving Social Security and reducing government spending, and, most importantly, someone who will talk straight with voters,” Mr. Morrisey told The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
The candidate grew up in Edison, where he graduated from Bishop Ahr/ St. Thomas Aquinas High School before paying his way through Rutgers College and Rutgers Law School.
Active in politics for over 12 years, Mr. Morrisey worked on George Bush’s Presidential campaign in 1988, Cary Edwards’ gubernatorial campaign in 1989, and was press secretary of Christine Todd Whitman’s U. S. Senate campaign in the 1990.
After working in private practice for a few years, Mr. Morrisey went to Washington in 1994 to serve as the East Coast regional field representative for the National Republican Congressional Committee under thenCongressman Bill Paxon (RNY).
After the GOP took the House majority, Mr. Morrisey helped set up the Congressional office of Dan Frisa (RNY) during the first 100 days of former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America.
Prior to working for the Commerce Committee, Mr. Morrisey was an associate at the law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin Kahn from 1995 through early 1999, where he developed a practice that specialized in health care regulatory matters, election and communications law.
He moved to Westfield in December, where he operates a secondfloor campaign office on Elm Street. Looking at the issues in this election, the candidate favors preserving Social Security by ensuring the so called “lock box” for seniors and those nearing retirement age. For younger persons, he favors allowing more flexibility in retirement planning through individual retirement accounts similar to 401K accounts,
to produce a faster rate of return than the federal government has produced.
To lower the tax burden on New Jerseyans, Mr. Morrisey favors a flat tax rate of 17 percent, while maintaining deductions for charitable contributions, for mortgage interest deductions and deductions for real estate. He said a flat rate would go a long way toward removing complexity from income tax forms.
“People want to have a convenient society and there is no better example of how government could be more user friendly than to be able to fill your taxes out on a post card,” he said.
He supports the Republicans’ proposal for a federal tax exemption for a family of four with a household income of $36,000 or below.
“No one should have to pay more than 33 percent of their total income in taxes,” he said, a total that includes property and income taxes. In addition to a flat tax rate, Mr. Morrisey said it is “critical” that Congress provides a tax cut for working families while the economy is still booming.
The candidate also favors preserving Medicare and paring down the national debt, currently estimated at $5 trillion. He supports a comprehensive overhaul of the Medicare system to increase the number of persons eligible for the benefit, and to include a provision for expanded discounts for prescription drugs for seniors.
His favorite issue, however, is health care, where he said he would push for “access, quality and affordability.” He favors enabling patients to choose their own doctors and “level the playing field” to increase access to health insurance.
To reduce the number of uninsured Americans, Mr. Morrisey proposes an increase in the individual deductibility for health care premiums so persons could purchase insurance with a deduction similar to that of employers.
The candidate said he is prolife on the abortion issue, with exceptions for rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. He opposes partial birth abortion.
Mr. Morrisey said that on gun control, existing laws need to be enforced. He said the national focus needs to be on providing more resources for enforcement.
Looking at the primary election, the candidate said he is planning a 48to72hour, lastminute, roundtheclock campaign to get his message out.
Mr. Morrisey admitted that while he is not the front runner, he is “the hard charging underdog who is positioning himself to win the race on June 6.”
Lapolla Cites Experience As Prosecutor, County Manager In Bid for House Seat
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD – After 12 years, Michael J. Lapolla is now looking to get back into elective office. Union County Manager for the past three years, he served as a freeholder in the 1980s before working as counsel for Governor Jim Florio and State Director for Senator Bill Bradley.
In 1983, at age 26, Mr. Lapolla was the youngest person ever elected to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He served two terms spanning six years.
A RutgersNewark and Washington College of Law at American University graduate, he moved on to work briefly as counsel to exGovernor Jim Florio and former United States Senator Bill Bradley. He later spent six years as First Assistant Prosecutor under the late Prosecutor Andrew Ruotolo of Westfield. Mr. Lapolla moved into Westfield a few years ago.
As part of Mr. Ruotolo’s office, he said, he saw firsthand the tragedies attributed to handguns. Mr. Lapolla, who went to numerous homicide scenes countywide during his tenure with the Prosecutor’s Office, said many tragedies could have been averted if there was not such easy access to guns.
“I battled with the NRA and the militia over assault weapons,” he recalled, adding that he supports gun registration, mandatory trigger locks and the socalled smart gun technology which prevents guns from being fired by individuals other than those to whom they are registered.
He said Saturday Night Specials, Uzies and AK47s “have nothing to do with hunting or any other sport.”
Among the issues he has addressed in the campaign is the growing senior population in Union County. He said the county provides a quarter of a million Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors and 180,000 rides through the Paratransit system, which provides transportation to hospitals and doctors’ offices. Union County is third in the state in senior populations, behind Ocean and Monmouth
Counties. The candidate favors using the federal surplus to pare down the national debt, with the interest saved from debt reduction to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund to ensure it remains solvent until the year 2050.
Mr. Lapolla advocates increasing Social Security benefits to widows to 75 percent of the combined income of a husband and wife. Currently, widows receive between 50 percent and twothirds of the benefit, depending on the Social Security she chooses.
He said this proposal, supported by Vice President and Presidential contender Al Gore, would generate an additional income of $800 or more per widow. In addition, the plan would reduce the number of women living under the poverty level from 20 percent to less than 6 percent nationally.
Mr. Lapolla also wants to eliminate what has been called the motherhood penalty where women lose retirement benefits for staying home and raising their kids. Currently, Social Security benefits are based on 35 years of work. The average man works 39 years, with the typical woman employed 27 years.
The candidate favors giving women credit on their Social Security benefits of up to five years so they can stay home and raise their children.
The average man collects $10,500 when he retires, compared to a woman, who garners an annual benefit of $7,800. Yet, women represent 60 percent of the Social Security recipients, Mr. Lapolla revealed.
“It would be expensive, but the money is there. Unless you deal with these issues at a time when they (Congress) are dealing with the overall Social Security issue, it’s never going to be dealt with by Congress,” he stated.
The candidate supports a Patients Bill of Rights and including a prescription drug plan for seniors within the Medicare entitlement. The prescription drug plan is estimated at $24 per person each month, a portion of which would be paid by seniors.
Good Luck Jim Florio!
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Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader and The Times DAY OF REMEMBRANCE… A Color Guard contingent stands at attention during the unveiling ceremony on Memorial Day for a plaque at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside which honors the memory of those men and women who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)