After a lengthy career in public health, law enforcement, and training development, long-time South Brunswick Republican John Saccenti is hoping to bring his experience to the
Saccenti is seeking the Assembly seat recently , shortly after winning re-election in November.
"Several people came up to me and suggested that this would be a good opportunity, considering my interest in representing the area, and they thought I would make a good addition to the Assembly," Saccenti said. "I think I can add a lot to the Assembly and see this as an opportunity to do a lot of good. I spent a good part of my life serving on the South Brunswick Board of Health and with the state Board of Health Association, so this is a tremendous opportunity to make changes that benefit the district."
Saccenti has served as president of the National Association of Local Boards of Heath, and has advised the White House and Surgeon General on public health policy.
He worked in the Division of Criminal Justice as an educator, and is also a small business founder and owner. Saccenti earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Masters of Science in Education and Political Science, and an Educational Specialist degree from Fordham University.
Saccenti served as a teacher and administrator working with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, where his primary responsibility was the development of basic law enforcement training. Saccenti worked on projects that included the design and writing of the basic course for investigators, the redesign and writing of the basic course for police officers, and other basic and advanced law enforcement courses.
"To adequately represent the 16th District I think we need to look at the issues of employment and stimulating businesses, while stabilizing property taxes," Saccenti said. "There are a lot of challenges facing the legislature, in an age when we have increasing needs on the part of people, from public health to unemployment. We're faced with diminishing resources, so we have to take a look at maximizing those resources so people in the district are having their needs met."
Saccenti said the should've been negotiated in a manner that didn't take away the constitutional rights of public employees for collective bargaining.
"Governor Christie is facing a lot of challenges, but I think the reforms to the pension system could've been handled in a manner that didn't alienate unions and public workers," he said. "These changes should've been negotiated and not legislated. As a former public employee with the Department of Criminal Justice, I know the amount of hard work public workers do, and their pay isn’t exorbitant.
“But the governor is faced with a difficult situation created by previous administrations and he's doing his best to stabilize the budget. My approach may have been different, but I applaud the governor's efforts to get the entire system back on track."
On the issue of the millionaires’ tax, Saccenti said he supports the idea of everyone paying their fair share, but said any income tax proposal must be examined carefully so as not to be overly burdensome.
"There's a bunch of different proposals under the heading of millionaires' tax, and when times are tough I think everyone should pitch in and do everything they can, but we have to make sure any proposal is not onerous on residents," Saccenti said. "What's pushing people out of this state are the burden of property taxes. Anytime people are taxed more heavily in one state they have a tendency to move to a lower tax jurisdiction, so all things being equal that has a major impact. But I don't expect a millionaires' tax to cause a mass exodus."
On the issue of charter schools in the suburbs, Saccenti said the value of the programming the charters are teaching should be weighed carefully in terms of what they can bring to any school district.
"Using the Chinese language charter school seeking to move into South Brunswick as an example, we have to look at the program and say is this something we want in our own schools and look if we're providing adequate options to parents," he said. "South Brunswick has an award winning school district, so we need to look at the needs of the community and determine how we're meeting these needs. We also need to look at how these schools may impact the district and student body."
Saccenti added that a referendum to allow a public vote before a charter school is approved in any district must be carefully considered.
"I'm a big believer in allowing the voice of the people to be heard, and I agree with the concept that people in the community should have the right to determine what they want," he said. "Board of education election turnout is low and a lot of people don't show up to vote for the school budget, which has a tremendous impact on the community. But I think that this is something that would not be bad to allow people to vote on."
To stimulate the economy in the district, Saccenti feels job training and tax incentives for small businesses are vital to putting residents back to work.
"We don't have a say on what the federal government does, but on the state level we need to look at ways to find incentives for businesses to bring in new employees," he said. "We need to develop more job training programs that meet the demand for the different types of labor needs. We need to create a system so people can get the different training they need to be employable in this job market."
With South Brunswick having the largest population in the 16th District, Saccenti said it's vital for the township to have a voice in the state legislature.
"I believe it's extremely important for the people in South Brunswick to have a representative in the assembly and for the Republican ticket to have someone in South Brunswick trying to bring in the Republican vote from here and Princeton," he said. "Working in various communities throughout the district has shown me each town has its own personality and own needs, so we need to look at the resources we have and maximize them, while getting the community involved in problem-solving throughout the district."
Saccenti will be nominated for the vacant Assembly seat at a special convention to occur within 35 days of the Jan. 10, 2012 opening session of the new Assembly. The individual selected for appointment will then run again for election in November, 2012.
Saccenti is the father of Patch's East Brunswick Local Editor John Saccenti