Teaneck NJ, on 10/27/2021 – Mike Koontz and his two assembly running mates, Edward Durfee and Perley Patrick, participated in a sign wave at the 545 Cedar Lane office of Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, the Democratic Senate Candidate for the 37th District of New Jersey. The purpose of the event was to bring attention to both Gordon Johnson and his running mates, Ellen Park and Shama Haider, who replaced his original choices for Assembly because of questions of ethics and bias commentary. They refuse to debate the Republican Senate and Assembly candidates Koontz, Durfee and Patrick.
Koontz explains “We believe we extended an invitation by accepting The Bergen County League of Woman Voters request to participate in a political forum on or about 8/18/2021 to be scheduled on October 13. Either as a Live or Zoom event. As the date approached I contacted the League to find that Johnson had declined the debate a short time before the planned date.“ Mr. Koontz then contacted the Johnson office to find a surprised staff that such a request had been received. However the staff member indicated the importance in such a forum as a public service. This encounter was relayed to the League with no avail.
On 10/9 Mr. Koontz had encountered Mr. Johnson at the 2021 Korean Festival at Overpeck Park. Mr. Koontz once again raised the question of a debate to Mr. Johnson and was met with a nervous humor from Johnson who said, “we should go for a beer before any debates.” Koontz replied, “why not after the debate.” Johnson continued to ignore the invite.
Once again Koontz contacted the Bergen Chapter of the NAACP in hopes a forum could be arranged similar to the debate between Bergen Clerk Candidates, Bridget Kelly and John Hogan. Again after two attempts to arrange a meeting there was no response.
Mr. Koontz and his running mates believe that Johnson and his running mates are compromising the 37th district constituents by not holding a debate especially considering the serious issues facing New Jeresy and the district. Some of these issues are oppressive property taxes, a State Budget out of control, Gasoline Tax and Garden State Parkway increases, unanswered Covid deaths of seniors and vets, a failing DMV and broke transportation fund, while small and medium businesses have failed due to Governor Murphy’s lock downs. This on the heels of possible vaccine mandates to come. Most if not all of these policies are supported by Gordon Johnson. In addition the 37th district traffic congestion is creating pollution and safety issues and is going unchecked. In addition, four towns and their residents are living below the poverty level while homelessness increases.
Koontz believes now more than ever that it is necessary to discuss these issues. As a result Koontz and his running mates along with a group of supporters had to bring the issue of Debate avoidance by Johnson to light by having the sign wave in Teaneck. Koontz maintains, “what is Gordon afraid of; if the shoe was on the other foot I would agree and the citizen’s deserve it.”