Christie stumps, answers questions at town hall

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GALLOWAY – Gov. Chris Christie was met with a supportive and enthusiastic crowd of roughly 700 at the middle school here on Wednesday afternoon. 

Christie made his 84th town hall meeting in just over 880 days in office in the gymnasium of Galloway Township Middle School Wednesday, June 13.

The governor is stumping hard around the state for support of his budget plan made evident by the sign in the front of the auditorium indicating there are 18 days left for the Legislature to deliver tax relief to New Jersey residents.
Referencing the film, "Jerry McGuire" the governor said, "let me help you." He told the crowd to make some noise to their legislators and added, "I go to work every day. The legislators only go to work some of the time. They think they know how to spend your money. I think you know best how to spend your money. It is going to get ugly in the next 18 days. But I am going to tell the truth. I will not negotiate a budget unless it reduces your taxes. The only way for your money not to get swallowed up in Trenton is to not send it there," Christie said, and was met with immediate applause.
Taking questions from the floor, Christie was asked about unions and collective bargaining. Christie said he favors collective bargaining when both sides work hard to negotiate.
"We do not have the money to pay for the increases my predecessor gave, over 14 percent for a four-year deal. We have a new four-year deal with the communications workers union and the corrections officers that is less than 1 percent each year for four years,” Christie said. “I can not give public employees increases that are not possible in the private sector. That is keeping the promise we made to our workers that when they retire the money will be there for them. "
The governor fielded questions about medical marijuana, fences on the Garden State Parkway, charter schools and renewable energy. He was even asked, “What do you need to know to be governor?” by a 9-year-old Egg Harbor Township boy.
Christie spelled out exactly how much his pension reform had saved residents of Galloway and pointed to the increase in school funding as an opportunity to help the economy grow locally.
He promised to be fair and respectful as long as the person asking the questions was; the governor was true to his word.
Members of the large crowd came to see the governor for various reasons.
Bonnie and Fred Warren of Linwood came to see him because they feel he is a great communicator.
"His views of New Jersey are consistent. He gives us a road map of what he is going to do and he treats residents with respect," said Bonnie Warren.
The couple said they heard him speak previously in Cherry Hill.
Mike Collazo of Mays Landing, owner of Anytime Fitness, came to hear Christie because he loves his candor on personal accountability.
"Responsibility and accountability is what we need more of," said Collazo. “Christie admits his mistakes and he is responsible and accountable. I just want to see if he is going to ask others to do the same.”
Dennis Ricci of Galloway Township brought his 15-year-old daughter Danielle. She said she was there because this was an historic time for her school and her town.

  Gov. Chris Christie fields questions at the Galloway Township Middle School where he held a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 13.

Photo and video by Suzanne Marino

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