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Updated: Aronsohn Says Labor Rally in Trenton 'Gave Me Hope' in Democratic Party

The Democrat and Ridgewood councilman discusses his thoughts on the public worker rally in Trenton in an op-ed on PolitickerNJ.

Ridgewood Councilman Paul Aronsohn said pledge to force public unions to pay more into their pensions also represented a revitalized Democratic party in the state.

In an opinion piece for PolitickerNJ.com on Friday, Aronsohn–who unsuccessfully ran against Republican Scott Garrett for Congress in 2006 and was formerly the communications director under Democratic ex-Governor Jim McGreevey after a successful career in Washington in the Clinton administration–said last year but seem to be returning home.

That's a home, he said, where the party fights for the rights and compensation of public workers. Top Democrat lawmakers say state workers have been unfairly targeted by the governor as having caused the state's fiscal woes.

Christie has spent the last two years imploring teachers and public unions to contribute more to health care and pension costs; he's also suggested massive reform to the tenure system, one he says is unfair to teachers, taxpayers and most importantly, students. Layoffs can be expected too, Christie says.

In speaking of 2010, a year pundits claimed Christie gained a sizable advantage over the rival party with the pushing for his reforms in education and , Aronsohn said the Democrats weren't there to protect those he thinks needed to be protected.

"I am suggesting . . . that Democrats were wrong for deserting our friends in their time of need and wrong for taking so long to realize it. Attacks on teachers went unanswered. Attacks on public safety officials went unchallenged," he wrote.

Democrat leaders joined thousands of police and firemen who marched on the state capital. Some Democratic officials criticized Christie's negotiating approach on Thursday as "hostile". State senators and assembly members took turns calling the governor's plan a "class war," one in which they said workers have every right to collective bargaining for. Christie insists he "loves" collective bargaining and does not plan to axe it but can't afford pension or health care costs without more union concessions.

Aronsohn said in his article that it doesn't necessarily mean that the party should necessary agree with all the union on all issues and negotiating points. He also insists the Democrats can still do more for the people of New Jersey.

"Going forward, we need to do better. We need to protect those who protect us. We need to fight for those who fight for us," he said.

"We need to give our police officers and firefighters the support, the respect and yes – the compensation they deserve."

Although he claimed more must still be done, Aronsohn concluded that Thursday's showing at the rally, which came on the heels of a public rally held by teachers days earlier, signified Democrats could be well on their way.

"It was the first clear sign that our Party has regained its voice and rediscovered its soul – the first clear sign that we have found our way back again. Needless to say, it’s good to be home."

[Editor's note: This article was updated at 4:54 p.m. on Saturday March 5]

roberta sonenfeld March 05, 2011 at 07:38 PM
I am very much in agreement with Paul Aronsohn's position as stated in his opinion piece in PolitickerNJ. What I find troubling about this Patch article is the way that the Patch summarizes his piece. Thankfully, it seems that you have edited this article: earlier in the day, it referred to Jim McGreevey as disgraced - clearly a way to negatively associate Councilman Aronsohn with a disgraced politician. Furthermore, in failing to note Aronsohn's comment "this is not to suggest that Democrats and union members should agree with each other on each and every issue and negotiating position", you have misrepresented his actual position and could cause Ridgewood voters to view him as too pro-union.
Disgruntledtaxpayer March 05, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Perhaps the councilman should step down as he is clearly a partisan member of a non-partisan government. I do agree with him about the unions not being completely to blame. They can share it with the Democrats in Trenton that gave them all of these lavish benefits.
James Kleimann March 05, 2011 at 09:50 PM
I can add that in, no problem. Obviously I didn't include everything Councilman Aronsohn said – there's no attempt to misrepresent his position. The entire piece can be seen on the PolitickerNJ site, which is linked right up in the second paragraph. Anyway, question for you, Roberta: You said agree with Aronsohn's stance that the Democrats made big gains on Thursday. Where do you stand on the issue overall? Should the unions chip in more to pension and health costs? If so, is there a good number? Is Sweeney's too high? Too low?
Dan Johnson March 06, 2011 at 12:19 AM
The unions took what the could and the Democrats were open to giving because they needed union support. No one thought of the consequences to taxpayers. Now there has been a wakeup call. There needs to be a balance and a recognition of consequences. I think that is what Aronsohn was trying to say. The unions are not evil. But neither are taxpayers.
roberta sonenfeld March 06, 2011 at 01:54 PM
I am a big supporter and proud of the fact that Ridgewood's elections are nonpartisan - we are among very few towns in Bergen County where this is the case. On the local level, including I believe the county level, political party affiliation has nothing to do with effective governance. Take our hot issues in Ridgewood - for ex, Valley Hospital, HS field lighting, etc. Where you stand on these issues have little to do with your political party affiliation. What is important is to have councilmen and women who are dedicated to their communities, pay attention to detail, listen to the concerns of the electorate, are creative in their approach, etc....that's what we should be evaluating our elected officials on. To suggest that one should resign because of partisanship is wrong. Every member of our Council has their own political beliefs and affiliations - maybe we should ask all of them to resign? The question is are they effective in the governance of our Village. I believe that Paul Aronsohn has more than proved that in his tenure on the Council.


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