Unsure and Uninterested in NJ Election

By Brandon Drayton, Guest Writer

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Montclair State On-Campus Residents Mandonnah Mahallati, Marguerite Kaufer, and Gabby Holtz hanging out before class on the Quad.
Brandon Drayton | The Montclarion

With less than a week until the New Jersey gubernatorial election, people should have an idea of which candidate they are voting for and why. At Montclair State University, that is not the case.

Many students at Montclair State say they are unaware and uninterested in the upcoming race, despite the fact that whoever wins the election on Nov. 7 will replace Governor Chris Christie after eight years in office.

Gabby Holtz, who is a sophomore hospitality management major, said she knows a small amount of information about each candidate.

“Honestly, the only thing I know is the democratic one is hoping to legalize marijuana and the other one is just trying to decriminalize it,” Holtz said.

Like many students on campus, Holtz did not even know who was running in the upcoming election. “I think his name is Greg or John or something,” she said while joking around with her friends.

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Hospitality Management major, Gabby Holtz, like many, is not too knowledgeable about either candidate.
Brandon Drayton | The Montclarion

Phil Murphy is a 60-year-old multimillionaire who spent more than two decades as an executive at Goldman Sachs. He has never held a political position before, but he served as the Democratic National Committee finance chair and former President Barack Obama named him the United States ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013.

Kim Guadagno, on the other hand, has spent the last eight years as Christie’s lieutenant governor. Prior to that, she was a Monmouth County sheriff and a former federal prosecutor.

While Murphy is currently ahead in polls, many fear Guadagno would be a “Christie 2.0” if elected. Christie currently holds a historically low 15 percent favorability rating, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

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Visual Arts major, Marguerite Kaufer hopes whoever wins the election will not follow anything on the Christie agenda.
Brandon Drayton | The Montclarion

“He’s insane,” said Marguerite Kaufer, a sophomore visual arts major. “Didn’t he close down the beaches, and then go to one of them?”

Over the summer, photos emerged of Christie and his family sunbathing on an empty beach that had been closed during the holiday weekend because of a state government shutdown.

“I know he is not well-liked because of his scandals and policies, so I hope [Guadagno] does not have similar things planned,” said Mandonnah Mahallati, a sophomore television production major.

It also seemed like students at Montclair State are not interested in politics at all. After the intensity of the presidential election last year, many felt that there was a political overload.

“It is just a lot to take in all at once. People at this point do not want to be associated with politics anymore,” said Kaufer.

Zahnia James, a senior communications and media arts major, was not knowledgeable on the upcoming election but stressed the importance of voting.

“I feel like we take voting for granted,” said James. “People fought and died for our right to vote so it is selfish when we do not participate in it.”

James plans to vote in the upcoming election, but she plans to do her own personal research before casting her vote.

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Communications and Media Arts major, Zahnia James stressed the importance of voting.
Brandon Drayton | The Montclarion

Students who live on campus at Montclair State have the option to mail in absentee ballots. The campus also offers residents the ability to vote at on-campus polling booths.

According to data from the Passaic County Clerk, almost 2,000 resident students voted at the polling booths on campus in the election last year.

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Television Production major, Mandonnah Mahallati thinks politics is overwhelming yet necessary in certain instances. Brandon Drayton | The Montclarion

This story is part of the Voting Block series and was produced in collaboration with The Record, NJ Spotlight, WHYY, WNYC, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Cooperative Media and New America Media. To read all the stories in this series, visit VotingBlockNJ.com.

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