The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters have endorsed Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger for State Assembly in the politically competitive 25th district.
The support of the environmental advocacy group comes at a time when swim advisories have been issued Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake is having a massive ecological and economic impact on the region. Outbreaks of algal bloom could make clean water a major issue in the race for two Republican-held Assembly seats.
“These candidates are all committed to fighting for healthy communities, creating good local jobs in the clean energy economy, and preserving New Jersey’s natural resources,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey LCV. “I am confident that electing environmental champions like these to the Assembly will ensure New Jersey is protected for future generations.”
Bhimani and Draeger face five-term Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) and his running mate, Denville Councilman Brian Bergen. The other incumbent, Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), is not seeking re-election after 24 years in the Legislature.
“What we’re seeing on Lake Hopatcong is tragic and unfortunately it’s far from a one-off issue. Just last week Greenwood Lake was declared unswimmable as well and experts say hundreds of other lakes and communities are at risk, including several in Morris and Somerset counties.” said Bhimani. “We need to take decisive action. That requires real leadership in Trenton, not representatives who stood silent for 8 years as Chris Christie destroyed every environmental protection he could get his hands on.”
Draeger and Bhimani have been going door-to-door the last few evening evenings speaking with residents of Roxbury and Mount Arlington, their campaign said.
“To the lake-side residents of Roxbury and Mount Arlington this is a full-blown crisis and the state’s inaction to clean up and protect Lake Hopatcong is unconscionable,” said Draeger. “These communities pay some of the highest taxes in the state, if not the nation. It is unacceptable for New Jersey to shrug and leave them to fend for themselves.”
The Republican mayors of those towns praised Bucco for his efforts at Lake Hopatcong.
“Anthony has worked with us since day one to solve the issues at Lake Hopatcong just as he’s worked diligently his entire career to ensure the protection and preservation of our great natural resource,” said Mt. Arlington Mayor Mike Stanzilis and Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo. “Trenton special interest groups like the NJ LCV who know nothing about our communities and parachute in with false attacks 90 days out from an election should be taken for what they are. Anthony Bucco is an incredible voice fighting for the residents and businesses impacted by Lake Hopatcong – and we need to send him back to keep fighting for us.”
Bucco’s campaign manager called comments from the Democrats a “desperate smear” from the Democratic candidates.
“To say he’s stood silent on Lake Hopatcong is not only false – it’s also hypocritical, given that neither of them have ever lifted a finger for the Lake,” said Rob Costello. “They seem to forget it was Anthony’s legislation which dedicated $500,000 annually to the Lake Commission to fund weed harvesting and stormwater management.”
Costello accused Bhimani and Draeger of backing “new energy taxes that will make New Jersey more expensive for businesses and residents” by accepting the LCV endorsement.
“It’s just another example of them doubling down on Trenton Democrats’ liberal policies that take more of our money as families struggle to get by,” Costello said.
This story was updated at 5:56 PM.