WL - One thing we have tried to accomplish over the past two years is to show people that just because we are the minority Party doesn't mean we are an irrelevant Party. In 2011, Republicans won in Gloucester City polls for the first time in decades. Though we were not successful in our efforts last year, I was very encouraged by the optimistic indicators given by Gloucester City's voters.
CNBNEWS-What do you attribute to these results?
WL - Part of it was being the hometown guy on the ballot however, I believe our message played the biggest role. I think it really spoke to a growing cross-section of voters and showed that not every issue has to be strictly partisan. We didn't alienate Democratic voters and we focused on common points of agreement that unite us all. We challenged the Norcross-Machine's way of doing business and shared ideas where we can make positive improvements for everyone's better benefit. I think that really resonated with people.
CNBNEWS-Being that 2012 is a Presidential year - with more voters expected to show up at the polls than 2011 - what challenges do you see for local Republican candidates?
WL - Last year's voter turnout in Gloucester City was about 26% of eligible voters and I project that number to be around 70% this year. Yes registered Republicans are outnumbered by registered Democratic voters in a margin of five to one. That said, I believe voters are frustrated with the way things have progressed in our region and are more open to accepting new faces and ideas.
At the end of the day, there are residents who are going to vote for the incumbency ticket no matter what. My job is to make sure every voter has the information to think long and hard about who, and what plan, they are going to vote for at the polls. If I can do that, I believe our candidates and our message will be successful.
CNBNEWS-Can you share some of your agenda items for the year ahead?
WL - I won't give too many details just yet, but I will say that our plan is based on our Municipal Party's mission.
- Make public safety, transparent communication, and responsible spending the cornerstones of our municipal government.
- Help our Small Business Community to prosper and grow to assist in the creation of new opportunities for Gloucester City and its residents.
- Work to enhance the quality of life for all our residents to promote Citywide progress.
- Work to increase both social and economic investment in Gloucester City to help reverse our community’s dwindling prosperity and provide new chances for development.
In building our plan, we specifically sought the ideas, opinions and advice from many of our community's stakeholders - of all political stripes. We are fortunate to have some very sharp minds involved with and assisting our Party. I know the plan that we will present to Gloucester City's voters represents our dedication to inclusiveness and to improving the community for the mutual benefit of all resident's.
CNBNEWS-As the Chairman of the City's Republican Party, why didn't you write a response to the Democratic Mayor's State of the City address?
WL - There were items in the Mayor's address that I think are positive signs for Gloucester City and show promise. There were also a number of points where I think the administration should be doing something different, or were not addressed at all, and that is disappointing. I believe Mayor and Council undoubtedly have good intentions for our community but, good intent doesn't always make for good policy.
Instead of getting into armchair quarterbacking and harsh criticisms; our candidates will share positive solutions. We will focus on ways to constructively resolve the concerns facing the stability and future progress of the City. I am confident that we will deliver a strong message of pro-community growth that provides voters with real options to consider before going to the polls in November.
Though I may disagree with the Mayor and Council on policy issues, I do appreciate their dedication in stepping up to do a thankless job. Plus, it's not often that the Mayor makes written comments in the GCN or CNB - so I am not inclined to have him make fewer remarks by bashing him at every turn.
I wish more residents would feel compelled to take an active role in our community and being negative only serves to deter that from happening. As we have seen from comments posted on CNBnews, there are a lot of passionate folks whose energy could really help make a difference when applied to the community at large.