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]