LONG HILL – Tennis pro and owner of her own tennis training school, former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese wants more shared services and consolidation of school districts in order to cut government and improve quality of life in her home state of New Jersey.
“I had all this knowledge based on researching consolidation and was at a point where I asked myself the question, ‘What can I do with this knowledge?'” she told InsiderNJ.
Impassioned about making deeper inroads, she decided to run for governor as an independent.
Genovese was a Democrat – first Democratic mayor of Long Hill – but found herself less and less able to affiliate with the party. The GOP wasn’t an option. So she registered as an independent in 2011, four years after her unsuccessful bid for a state senate seat in Republican-heavy LD21.
As the founder and head of Courage to Connect NJ, Genovese enjoyed some success as an advocate of successfully merged towns Princeton Twp. and Princeton Borough and the South Hunterdon School District. But she also ran into opposition from Governor Chris Christie, who wouldn’t support a study on the merits of merging Scotch Plains and Fanwood, Genovese told InsiderNJ. Former Governor Jon Corzine had some interest in consolidation and more shared services, but when Christie came into office in 2009, he undertook a completely different direction, and eagerly scrapped those initiatives his predecessor favored, the independent candidate for governor noted.
Having built up a knowledge base and had a taste of success, “I felt compelled to run for governor,” Genovese said.
But as an independent?
She said she believes she has a shot, “the climate is right,” and intends to run a competitive, social media-connected campaign against two parties she says have lost their way.
“Social media is huge,” she acknowledged. “I couldn’t attempt this without social media.”
She will also highlight her issues with campaign-backed cartoons such as the one pictured above.
Born in Union Twp. and raised in Berkeley Heights, Genovese was ranked 151st in the world in the early 1980s among tennis pros, but she hurt her hip and by 1983 was out of the game and running her own tennis business, Gina’s Tennis World in Berkeley Heights. As a coach, she developed several nationally ranked tennis players.
Part of her motivation to run for governor is to offer voters the choice of someone who has real world people and business skills. She was a mayor, so has the experience of being yelled at by constituents. But more than that, she has worked with parents and their children for over three decades. That skill of developing young athletes under the watchful eye of their parents uniquely prepares her, she told InsiderNJ, for the delicate procedure of reforming New Jersey government.
She will run a substantive, ideas and issues campaign, she said.
“I don’t want to run against Chris Christie or Donald Trump,” Genovese said. “I would never again run on a party organization line.”
Right now her goal is to get to half a million dollars raised and the funds required to get into the public debates. “I’m really excited that New Jersey is going to have a choice,” said the candidate.