Have you ever wondered what it's like to run for public office as a Young Dem? We sat down with Ryan Young, an Assembly candidate in Legislative District 9, to hear about how his campaign has been going and what's in store between now and election day:
1. What made you decide to run for public office in LD9?
I’ve always had an interest in politics, but the thing that made me decide to jump in this year was as much as I live in the stronghold area of the opposition, talking to the constituents of this district there is a climate of disdain for political parties, and a lack of true representation. Our district is home to a many of the popular vacation spots, and that takes a toll on things like our infrastructure, to our local businesses having to make sure they earn enough in the summer months to sustain them in the off season.
It’s time for a change our representation, and some new fresh ideas to help this district to help these towns continue to flourish during the off season, and not have to be dependent on the tourism to keep things afloat.
2. What are some of the challenges you're facing, running as a Young Dem?
There is a large population of senior communities throughout the district, and there are times they question me about what I actually know about their town and how things are “just expected to go.” They’ve gotten used to the status quo, so it’s been a bit challenging convincing them that the status quo is not good enough anymore, that there can be a better way.
The campaign has been in overdrive for about the past month. We have been out there either knocking on doors or phone banking every day. We also have been using social media to help get out the Young Dems of our district to get involved. This campaign has been a 2nd full time job for us, and we have been stressing that to the voters that even though we are not career politicians like our opposition, our constituents can expect us to give just as much effort into being their voice in Trenton as a full time job.
3. What's the most interesting thing you've learned since the start of the campaign?
LD 9 is a unique district in that the majority of our constituents live in shore towns, so their concerns tends to be slightly different than other districts. We also are home to a large number of part time residents, so trying to convince them to stay and vote has been a challenge too.
But the thing that sticks out to me as the most interesting thing, is that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told by constituents that they are so happy to see candidates actually come to their town, and be out there talking to the people. They can’t remember the last time anyone from either side made that type of effort to actually come ask for their vote, and it seems that since we did go back to the basics of “all politics are local” there are more people willing to disregard party this November and vote for representation that hasn’t forgotten about the “little people”.
4. If elected, what changes would you implement in the district?
Our infrastructure is used extensively not only over the summer, but as commuter routes for those that live in our district but work in either New York, or Atlantic City. Yet our roads have been neglected when choosing the projects funded by the “gas tax”. I will fight to make sure that LD9 gets their fair share of that money to help keep our roads in working condition.
We still have an unacceptable number of people not back in their homes from Superstorm Sandy. And now they are getting these “clawback” letters saying they owe the money back due to their home repairs not being completed or far enough along, due to no fault of their own. Yet the only support they have gotten from our current representation was a 60 day delay in owing that total amount back. These people need representation that will fight for these letters to stop completely to let them focus on getting their lives back together as well as they can after a major tragedy like that.
We want to work with getting more and better services for our Veterans. Our district is home to a larger population of veterans and their families that is part of the largest population in the state (Ocean & Burlington County). Yet the services are limited not only in Southern Jersey, but especially the LD9 part of Ocean County. This is not acceptable on any level, and we need work to get more services, and on a state level getting a 2nd long term care facility in Southern Jersey for our heroes.
The most pressing issue of my district is the impending closure of Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant. The plant’s property taxes account for 49% of Lacey’s yearly budget. The company that owns Oyster Creek, has already gone to the Pennsylvania state government and said they will not be able to pay the 10 years of property taxes for their other plant in Pa, Three Mile Island, which is scheduled to close the year after Oyster Creek. We need to work immediately to make sure there is a plan in place in case Exelon cannot keep their promise of the 10 years of property taxes after they close. The residents of Lacey need that stability to make sure their property taxes don’t become the only means to make up the loss. We need to either work to build green energy facilities and/or work to bring in other industries to make sure there are jobs for these residents.
5. How can people get involved with your campaign?
They can go to www.jillandryanfornj.com,or they can follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram at njdems4ld9. We are a very social media driven campaign. We are doing phone banks and canvassing almost every day and are anyone is welcome to come join us for either one or both.
Ryan is the Chair of NJYD's newly-formed Military & Veterans Affairs Caucus, an Army Airborne Veteran, and Co-President of the Ocean County Young Democrats.