TRENTON – Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, a leading advocate in the State Legislature for greater ethics controls and government transparency, issued the following statement today regarding the Assembly’s approval, by a vote of 69-3, with 8 abstentions, for a ban on dual office-holding in the State of New Jersey:
“Today, New Jersey’s Legislature took a needed first step to ban public officials from holding more than one elected office at the same time. I will be introducing the Senate version of the bill this Thursday. While the bill advancing is not a perfect ban, it begins a dialogue that needs to take place, and will go a long way to ensuring a more ethical model in the future.
“As a freshman Senator in 2004, I introduced two pieces of legislation on dual office-holding. One was a ban on holding more than one elected office which contained no grandfathering clause and required current dual officeholders to choose one office at the time of their next election. The other proposed a ban on holding more than one appointed political office or holding an appointed political office at the same time as elected office. I continue to believe that effective government cannot be served when lawmakers serve two masters. However, my effort to completely ban dual office-holding sat, gathering dust without any legislative action.
“This bill offers a compromise, and as seen through today’s legislative action, is our best chance of banning dual office-holding in New Jersey. I would rather be pragmatic than blindly idealistic, and I know that little good is served stubbornly pushing legislation which has no chance of passing the Legislature.
“At the same time, I’m comforted by the fact that those dual office-holders which are exempted from the ban will be facing extraordinary pressure from the voting public, and as we continue discussions about the issue, I hope many will find the wisdom to abandon one elected office, or face the wrath of the electorate.
“The ban that’s moving forward in the Legislature today is not the dual office-holding ban I put forward when entering the Senate. But it’s a first shot at real reform, not paper reform and partisan rhetoric. While I wish we could have gone further with this current bill, I pledge to continue the fight to end all dual office holding to ensure that lawmakers will only serve one interest – the public interest – in New Jersey.”