Nutley Commissioner Steven L. Rogers is running for Governor of New Jersey – and he’s in it to win it, not just to make a statement as some political pundits have already predicted.
Rogers, a retired police lieutenant with the Nutley Police Department who is in the first year of his second term on the Nutley Board of Commissioners, announced his candidacy on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Madison Hotel in Morristown.
There, in addition to introducing his wife, Natasha, to the state, the special adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump laid out an aggressive, five-point plan to turn the state around, including the economy, law-enforcement, bringing the police and underserved communities together, education and the Second Amendment.
On the economy
Rogers says his No. 1 priority will be to repeal the current governor’s 23¢ gas tax. Though he’s unsure if he can just yet – and we couldn’t verify it either – he says he’ll issue an executive order to rescind the tax if necessary.
“Don’t the people of New Jersey have enough heartaches to deal with?” Rogers said. “This tax was just an added burden the people didn’t need. If elected officials need to create a tax to pay bills they themselves created, they’re not doing their jobs properly, and I am going to put an end to that.”
Yet it’s not just the gas tax that concerns Rogers. He wants to bring big business back to Jersey, bring new business to the state – all while finding ways to impact local, small-business owners.
“So many pharmaceutical companies, transportation, healthcare companies have left the state, but I want them back,” Rogers said. “I want businesses of all sizes working with each other. It can be done because if larger businesses come back, it will instantly create work for smaller businesses.
“But there is no way this could happen unless we throw away all of the absurd regulations that make it impossible to do business here. This state’s regulations are unfriendly, chaotic and make it too difficult to establish businesses here. We plan to change that.
Law enforcement & heroin
This may be Rogers’ most radical plan.
He says he wants to end the stigma surrounding heroin addiction – and he wants those who sell, distribute or manufacture the drug to be classified as terrorists.
“Addiction is a mental-health and medical issue,” Rogers said. “First, I wanted heroin addicts not to fear being charged with a crime. What I’ve found is that many addicts – and their families – are too scared to get help for heroin addiction because there’s this fear they’ll get locked up. Not going to happen if I’m governor. Addicts will no longer need to fear arrest. Instead, we’re going to get them the help they need. Locking up addicts only creates bigger problems.”
As for the sellers and manufacturers, Rogers says they should get ready to “pack their bags” if he’s elected.
“I’m coming to get you,” Rogers said. “Every drug dealer will be classified as a terrorist. The money they make off drugs funds terrorist organizations. So the bottom line – they’re part of terrorist organizations. My message to them – leave the state now, while you can.”
Rogers admits, however, for this to become law, he’ll need cooperation from the federal government – and perhaps even a change in federal law.
“If we can change federal laws, it will trickle down to state, county and local law enforcement and make it easier for everyone involved and especially when it comes to getting search warrants.”
Editor’s note: On marijuana, Rogers supports medical use of the drug, but not recreational use.
Bridging the gap with minorities
Rogers has always believed the gap that exists between the police and those from underserved communities wasn’t created by cops or minorities. Instead, he says it was created by politicians from both sides of the aisle who promise so much and deliver so little.
“The wall needs to be torn down,” Rogers said.
To accomplish this, Rogers plans to encourage a community-policing model he helped develop decades ago and that is still in effect and highly beneficial in Nutley.
“We won’t interfere with local and county departments, though,” he said. “We’ll deliver the tools – and they’ll be responsible for implementation. We don’t want to stick our nose in what others should be doing.”
Rogers says he’s had enough of Common Core standard and teachers having to teach to tests. Under his administration, he’d eliminate Common Core and standardized testing.
“Teachers are too often unable to do their jobs because they’re too concerned about tests and mandate standards,” Rogers said. “Under my administration, we will ensure local school boards and parents decide what’s best for their children. There are just too many talented teachers all over the state who can’t demonstrate their talents because they’re too busy with testing and Common Core.”
The Second Amendment
Rogers says he wants to make it easier for New Jersey residents to carry a concealed weapon. He says it’s currently too difficult to show a “justifiable need” to carry.
“We will do this responsibly, but the Second Amendment is a non-negotiable right,” Rogers said. “We will work to make sure responsible people are able to carry.”
Though Rogers is, indeed, a special adviser to the president-elect, he says he plans to keep his positive “100% positive.”
“I’m not going to criticize current politicians or other candidates,” he said. “Our plan is to remain positive throughout the campaign.”
We wish him luck trying to accomplish that in this political climate.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.