Brooklawn Gardens has budding concerns for governor's race

By Nikki Vadas | The Montclarion

A quiet apartment complex in Wayne, Brooklawn Gardens overlooks busy Hamburg Turnpike. Just a few miles from the Willowbrook Mall and populated shopping centers, the complex is home to a diverse community. Renters come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life.

Many Brooklawn Gardens residents expressed opinions about their state government, but many say they aren’t interested in voting for the next governor.

Vita Sarkodie, nurse practitioner. 

Vita Sarkodie, nurse practitioner. 

Vita Sarkodie is one of them. “I’m a registered Democrat,” she said, noting she is a nurse practitioner. “I’m too busy with work and family life to keep up.”

She expressed frustrations with Governor Chris Christie and said she is glad he will be leaving. “I’m hoping for a change for the better,” said Sarkodie

“New Jersey is one of the richest states, yet has a significant number of poor people,” said Sarkodie. She the widening disparity between rich and poor concerns her as do unemployment rates. She said New Jersey needs to eliminate some of the tolls on the Garden State Parkway and extend unemployment benefits to allow people to find better jobs.

The upcoming Nov. 7 New Jersey gubernatorial election pits Democrat Phil Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs executive and former U.S. ambassador to Germany, against Republican Kim Guadagno, who has served as Gov. Chris Christie's lieutenant governor for eight years. 

The Montclarion is focusing on the Brooklawn Gardens neighborhood as part of a New Jersey collaborative reporting effort called Voting Block.

The project aims to encourage civil political discussion and more informed voters across the Garden State, ahead of the gubernatorial election.

More than two dozen news organizations are following groups of neighbors as the race continues. The reporting partners include 15 hyperlocal and six ethnic news organizations across the state, as well as WYNC, WHYY, NJ Spotlight and The Record.

The candidates recently debated and discussed gun control, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and education issues. It was televised. Yet, interest in this election has been low. 

Many Brooklawn Gardens residents said they are happy to see Chris Christie leave office.

“No, I’m not voting,” said Lazaros Eordanidis, another Brooklawn Gardens resident.

Eordanidis said he has been dissatisfied with both President Trump and Governor Christie. Eordanidis, 56, is currently on disability. He helped to run a local restaurant that recently shut its doors. He said it is nearly impossible to open a business now due to New Jersey’s prices. “Raising taxes is a poor excuse,” he said. “How do you expect people to make a living? Our money’s going to taxes.”

Eordanidis wants politicians to be more honest and to do more to help lower-income households. He said people on disability really struggle in New Jersey and that raising taxes is only going to harm the state more.

Marcy Stein. Photo Credit: Nikki Vadas.

Marcy Stein. Photo Credit: Nikki Vadas.

Marcy Stein, another resident of Brooklawn Gardens, shares a similar opinion. As a registered Democrat, she does not plan to vote in this governor’s election.

Stein, 45, also is on disability. She would like to see more state spending on education, libraries and social services while she wants the state to lower car insurance rates and basic groceries.

“I don’t think [Chris Christie] is doing a good job,” she said. While she would like to see a Democrat in office, she is not very hopeful about changes for New Jersey.

 

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This story is part of the Voting Block series and was produced in collaboration with The Record, NJ Spotlight, WHYY, WNYC, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Cooperative Media and New America Media. To read all the stories in this series, visit VotingBlockNJ.com.