5 running for 2 state Assembly seats

DISTRICT 24. Five candidates are vying for the two state Assembly seats representing the 24th Legislative District.

| 19 May 2023 | 02:42

With neither of the incumbents in the race, five candidates are running for the two state Assembly seats representing the 24th Legislative District in the Republican primary June 6.

They are Josh Aikens, Dawn Fantasia, Mike Inganamort, Robert Kovic and Jason Sarnoski.

Aikens, president of the Lafayette Township Board of Education, and Sarnoski, a Warren County commissioner, are running as a team as are Fantasia, a Sussex County commissioner, and Inganamort, mayor of Chester Township. Kovic is a lawyer in Sparta.

Assemblyman Parker Space, R-24, who assumed office in 2013, is running for the state Senate. He has no opponent in the primary.

State Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24, is retiring at the end of this year.

Hal Wirths, R-24, also is retiring. He has been in the Assembly since 2018.

District 24 includes all of Sussex County as well as Mount Olive, Roxbury, Chester Borough, Chester Township, Washington Township and Netcong in Morris County and Allamuchy and Independence in Warren County.

Josh Aikens

Why are you running for this office?

Parents need a grassroots parental rights advocate in Trenton.

Republicans have failed to be effective leaders in the struggle between Murphy administration mandates and parental rights. If I’m in the Republican legislative caucus, I can serve as a bridge between the GOP in Trenton and the grassroots activists on the ground. Maybe we can start winning some battles!

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

We are a minority party, so I’m not going to promise to propose legislation that is dead on arrival. I’m going to aim for things that we can really get done:

1. Put a halt to any new education mandates from the Murphy administration using a combination of legislative action and grassroots activism.

2. Roll back existing Murphy administration mandates using those same tools.

3. Create greater transparency by bringing insider information to the wider public. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for a corrupt administration!

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

As an advocate for parental rights, I served as chairman and principal spokesperson for a grassroots organization founded in 2020 and dedicated to advising and supporting principle-driven Board of Education candidates.

We recruited over 600 candidates to run in non-partisan school board elections across New Jersey - many in Democrat-controlled municipalities - whose election to school boards have played a critical role in ensuring that our children are able to achieve academic success.

These new reform candidates have all been actively opposed to the woke indoctrination of our children.

Background and qualifications

I’m New Jersey’s most successful parental rights advocate. A lifelong resident of Sussex County, I’m the president of the Lafayette Township school board.

I have a long record of service to the community as coach, substitute teacher, and doing missionary work both in America and overseas. I worked with the Sussex County YMCA, and I’m currently the executive director of the Sussex County Republican Committee.

I am a husband and a father with children. I work as a financial efficiency expert in support of the U.S. Army.

I’m running for Assembly on The Real Conservative Republican ticket with Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski.

Dawn Fantasia

Why are you running for this office?

First and foremost, I am running to protect our beautiful northwest corner of New Jersey.

I was raised and went to school in Sussex County, and I have raised my children here; I believe the preservation of our values and way of life is critical.

Under liberal one-party rule in Trenton, our state is on a path to both economic destruction and cultural ruin. Whether it’s rising taxes that drive out our residents and jobs; extreme school curriculum that indoctrinates our children; or constant attacks on our right to bear arms and the right to life, we need conservative voices in Trenton who can fight back - and who can win.

I’ve been a fighter my whole life. As a single mom, I put myself through school, built a successful career, and won campaigns to both local and county office.

I will be prepared on Day One to be a voice for regular people just like me.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

My running mates (Assemblyman Parker Space and Mayor Mike Inganamort) and I made a conservative pledge to voters and published it on our website, so there is no mystery as to where we stand. That pledge includes more than just three things, and I encourage voters to visit our website to read more at www.ParkerDawnandMike.com

Our top priorities include repealing the radical ‘woke’ school curriculum and protecting our children; fighting for election integrity by mandating voter ID at the polls; and opposing wasteful spending and cracking down on crime and illegal drugs while standing with our police.

As a lifetime NRA member and the victim of a gun crime, it’s time that we enact measures that do not stifle our constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Instead, we must reduce the illegal use of firearms in the commission of crimes and in gang activity by prohibiting the pleading down of violent gun crimes to lesser offenses and stop turning dangerous criminals back out onto our streets.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

We need conservatives who are willing to fight against the radical and extreme policies of Phil Murphy and the Democrats. Better yet, I have a proven record of conservative results in elected office.

As a local councilwoman, I cut property taxes while strengthening public safety and supporting our first-responders – not an easy task in a state that strangles towns and counties with unfunded mandates.

As a Sussex County commissioner, we have passed a county resolution to support the Second Amendment and the rights of lawful gun owners while prohibiting our county from ever becoming a so-called “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants.

I am extremely vocal against policies which endanger our residents, such as Governor Murphy’s so-called “Reproductive Freedom Act,” which outlandishly permits minors to obtain an abortion at any stage of pregnancy without parental notification by those who are not even licensed physicians.

In Trenton, I will continue to represent the conservative values of northwest New Jersey and ensure our region has a voice that fights to defend our values.

Background and qualifications

I am a middle-school principal at a public charter school, and I vehemently support parents’ rights and school choice.

A proud mom of three, I earned my undergraduate degree from Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Capella University as a recipient of the National Project Working Mom scholarship program.

For the past eight years, I have been honored to serve the community that has been so supportive of me and my family and now having the support of retiring Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblyman Hal Wirths, and a running mate in Assemblyman Parker Space, is nothing short of humbling.

As a former Franklin Borough councilwoman/council president, former member of the Franklin Borough Zoning Board and Economic Development Committee, and as a current Sussex County commissioner serving my second term, I am the county liaison to the Division of Health, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Partnership, Department of Central and Shared Services, Capital Budget Committee, Sussex County Community College and the Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council.

I have the experience necessary at both the municipal and county levels to express our needs in Trenton with fidelity, and I would be honored to earn your vote on June 6.

Mike Inganamort

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for the Assembly because state government has lost its damn mind. Governor Murphy and Democrats in the Legislature continue to crush middle-class families and seniors with higher taxes, recklessly spend us into debt, attack the rights of parents to raise their kids, and side with criminals over cops.

We need a conservative check and balance on liberal one-party rule, and I will be a strong voice on behalf of taxpayers.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

Make New Jersey more affordable for residents to stem the flow of out-migration; make it more attractive and competitive for businesses to keep well-paying jobs here; and repeal Governor Murphy’s extreme school curriculum standards that prioritize ideology over academics and pass a Parents’ Bill of Rights.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

As a local mayor, I understand how policies coming out of Trenton hurt towns and the property taxpayers who foot the bill, and I know how to fix it.

Not a week goes by without a new state mandate crossing my desk that would push higher costs and more regulation onto small towns. I’ve repeatedly fought the state on these mandates - and won.

As a longtime aide to Congressman Scott Garrett, I have firsthand experience in how the local, state and federal governments interact and how best to advocate for conservative reforms.

As a father of three, I know that our schools need to get back to basics and educate our students with age-appropriate curriculum.

Background and qualifications

Mayor, Chester Township; previously served on the Township Council, including three years as council president.

Married to Lauren with three daughters.

Parishioners at St. Lawrence Church in Chester.

Former Sussex County Republican Committeeman.

Longtime aide and campaign manager for Congressman Scott Garrett, R-5.

Current Chester Township Republican Municipal Chairman.

Volunteer Merit Badge counselor and Eagle Scout.

Bachelor’s degree in political science from American University; master’s degree in American government from Georgetown University.

Member of the American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network.

Named to NJBIZ’s “40 Under 40” list.

Robert Kovic

Why are you running for this office?

I am running to stop Phil Murphy from continuing to attack our families with his woke agenda; restricting our parental rights; our constitutional rights; making New Jersey the worst place to start and run a business; skyrocketing property taxes; choking our farmers, our seniors.

I learned long ago how poorly chosen elected officials and bad policy can destroy jobs, families, businesses, communities and dreams. It happened to my parents a long time ago, and a lot of people I know, and it’s happening to a lot of people now as well, so I’m here to do something about it.

I believe that government must provide the necessary basic foundation where people can flourish and thrive with hard work so they have an opportunity to make their own dreams come true. This is not happening now.

I’m here to fight for our communities, a better business environment, tax relief, parental rights, relief for farmers, relief for seniors, our families, our schools - a better quality of life for all. I’m here to fight for you.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

There are several things that I want to work on, as soon as possible, but since I have to pick three:

1. I want to quickly focus on property tax reform that will give relief to our struggling families, seniors and farmers.

2. I want to move quickly on making New Jersey a business-friendly environment so that businesses and our economy can thrive, leading to job creation so people can actually improve their quality of life.

3. I want to quickly improve our education system and put control over children back in the hands of their parents, where it belongs, rather than the government.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I’m a results-oriented problem solver. Not a bomb thrower. I am a first-generation American, raised by working-class parents. I worked my way through college and law school, married the love of my life and live in Sparta, where I coach my son’s soccer team.

I founded a successful law practice and also served my community as a councilman and county counsel.

I learned that we must always be prepared to fight on the side of what is right, no matter how difficult the fight. I will leave no stone unturned when it comes to fighting for our district and New Jersey.

My parents legally came to the U.S. in 1968, fleeing a socialist country to provide a better life for their family - to pursue the “American Dream.” Later, they became victims of a dream denied. They were among the millions of working-class people betrayed by politicians and their policies.

I spend every day working to take care of my family and the people I’m responsible for. I spent my career as an attorney and elected official fighting for those left behind, forgotten, forsaken.

I’ve never been afraid to fight for our communities, our businesses and our families. It’s the kind of public servant I’ve been. It’s the kind of person I am. It’s the kind of Assemblyman I’ll be.

Background and qualifications

I am an attorney, a first-generation American, a husband, a dad and a former elected official. I now live in Sparta with my wife and son, where I coach soccer.

Education: J.D., New York Law School; master’s in international relations and economics, Rutgers University, Newark; bachelor’s in political science, Rutgers, Newark.

New Jersey Bar Admissions: New Jersey Supreme Court; U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey; U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit; U.S. Court of International Trade; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; U.S. Supreme Court.

Jason Sarnoski

Why are you running for this office?

I want to make the Republican legislative caucus more conservative and more representative of the average Republican voter - who I believe is conservative.

I am tired of self-serving, establishment politicians who represent themselves and not the people that elected them to office.

As a (Warren County) commissioner, I have always used my conservative values to do what I felt was in the best interest of the people who elected me into office. That is the kind of representation I want to bring to Trenton.

What are the top three things you aim to accomplish if elected?

I would like to work within the Republican caucus to unite us around a core group of conservative goals:

1. A long-term strategy to change the education funding formula to bring down property taxes. This would be along the lines of Sen. Mike Doherty’s Fair School Funding Formula.

2. Lobby within the GOP caucus to get caucus agreement on an anti-woke agenda we can organize around. That means saying no to Murphy’s education mandates; no to ESG; no to new taxes, spending and debt.

3. Create a platform of conservative principles to guide our legislative efforts and gain grassroots support. We need to communicate clearly what we believe in so voters know what they are voting for. That’s the only way we will achieve a legislative majority.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

As a county commissioner, I consistently cut taxes. Warren County’s current budget is 10 percent less than the county budget I inherited when I started in government over 12 years ago.

Twelve years ago, the county debt was over $17 million. Today, county debt is nearly eliminated. I did this by approving a resolution that required “Voter Approved Bonding” and by following a Pay-As-You-Go philosophy for budgeting.

I cut property taxes again this year by 5 cents - an average of over $150 in savings for property taxpayers. This is the kind of fiscal responsibility I will bring to Trenton to put a stop to liberal spending and out-of-control debt.

Background and qualifications

I’m an engineer, a husband and father of two.

As the son of a police officer father who worked side jobs as a carpenter and a Catholic school teacher mother, I know what it is like to have to work hard to make ends meet.

I opposed Governor Murphy’s sanctuary state laws that protect illegal immigrants and make New Jersey a magnet for criminals.

I stood with parents when they opposed Governor Murphy’s controversial woke curriculum mandates.

I stood with pro-life leaders to reject Murphy’s late-term abortion bill. This earned me the “New Jersey Right to Life” endorsement in my 2022 election.

I’ve fought for our constitutional right to protect ourselves and our families. As a county commissioner, I rejected Murphy’s unconstitutional restrictions on our Second Amendment rights and pushed the judiciary to provide concealed-carry permits when Trenton was slowing down the process for our law-abiding residents. Working with the judges and prosecutor, permits that had been held up began to be released.

I am running for Assembly with the state’s most successful parental-rights advocate, Josh Aikens. We are the Real Conservative Republican Team.

CORRECTION: The list of towns in District 24 was incorrect in an earlier version of this article. We regret the error.