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UNION CITY – There’s probably nothing better for a Democratic politician in New Jersey than a trip to Hudson County.
Gov. Murphy knows that and so it was on Tuesday that he enjoyed the good cheer and overall adulation a loyal Dem finds when visiting the state’s most congested and arguably most-Democratic county.
Murphy visited a preschool education center on Kennedy Boulevard to announce an expansion of the program statewide. Some $68 million in additional funding will help support early childhood education in 28 more school districts across the state. The grants are going to districts in 17 of the state’s 21 counties, most of which, relatively speaking, are on the small side. Examples are Weymouth in Atlantic, High Bridge in Hunterdon, Kearny in Hudson and Netcong in Morris.
The governor journeyed to Union City to make the announcement, because he said its preschool program has earned state and national acclaim. Officials said a program that began with a shade less than 400 three and four-year-olds in 1998 now serves more than 1,800.
Few educators dispute the benefits of early education, so Murphy was on safe ground when he brought up the old – but true – line about good policy being good politics.
That and the locale made the event very much a pep rally attended by at least 100 people.
Joining the governor were an array of interested parties, including state Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont O Repollet, and state Senators Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, and Brian Stack, D-Hudson. Murphy more than once reminded the crowd that Stack, who is also the city’s mayor, wears two hats. Dual office holding is a very rich, although not always commendable, tradition in Hudson It’s officially been banned, but Stack and some others have been grandfathered in.
Teacher union representatives were out in force with both the NJEA and the AFT being represented. Tom DeGise, the Hudson County executive, and a former teacher himself, was the master of ceremonies.
As Murphy praised all the dignitaries in the room, Stack returned the favor, saying he hasn’t seen a governor more committed to education than Murphy. High praise indeed.
In the only unrelated matter of substance raised, the governor was asked about news reports former Assemblyman Arthur Barclay, who resigned last year after allegedly punching a woman in the face, may be named to a seat on the Camden Parking Authority.
Murphy said that’s something he would not support.