Pass Build Better Act now to narrow N.J. wealth gap | Letters

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New Jersey is one of the most expensive places to live and has one of the largest racial wealth gaps among states. While the median net worth of white families is $352,000, the median net worth of Black and Latino families is just $6,100 and $7,300, respectively, according to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

Affordable housing and access to home ownership opportunities are critical to closing the gap, and provisions in the Build Back Better Act will help New Jersey address these disparities. Congress must send the Build Back Better Act to President Joe Biden’s desk now.

NAACP Bergen County is part of a coalition of fair housing advocates working to safeguard affordable housing. The Build Back Better Act’s $150 billion in housing investments will develop and rehabilitate affordable rental housing units and homes, begin to narrow the racial home ownership gap with first-generation down payment assistance, stabilize and revitalize rural communities and neighborhoods of color, and support nonprofit fair-housing organizations dedicated to assisting victims of housing discrimination.

Families throughout Bergen County and New Jersey will be positively impacted by this bill. We urge U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist. (whose support for immediate passage reportedly has been wavering) to back this legislation and efforts to provide more New Jersey families with access to affordable and safe housing.

Jeff Carter, president, Bergen County NAACP, Teaneck

Choosing multiple candidates for single seat makes sense

Concerning the Star-Ledger editorial “Ciattrarelli is right: N.J’s elections need a fix,” on Nov. 16:

I applaud the editorial board for joining gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli in calling for New Jersey election law changes to speed up the vote count. But, the Legislature should also amend the election law to authorize ranked-choice voting.

Have you ever voted for “the lesser evil” because your underdog first choice would result in “throwing away” your vote? ” Ranked choice voting allows picking candidates in order of preference. If your top choice cannot win, your vote counts for your next choice. That way, you can vote for your top choice without accidentally electing a candidate you oppose.

In addition to increasing your choices, this kind of balloting can result in less negative campaigning. Candidates are less likely to attack their opponents because they want to win the second-choice votes of other candidates’ supporters.

Ranked-choice voting has already been used in more than two dozen cities, including New York City, and statewide in Maine and Alaska. New Jersey should join them.

The New Jersey Municipal Instant Runoff Act, A-4744 and S-2992, has been introduced in the Legislature. It would permit ranked choice voting in nonpartisan local elections. But, no hearings have been scheduled. Voters should contact their state legislators to call for hearings and passage of this bill.

Rick Gutman, Montclair

Sack paper trash bags, and plastic will replace them

While I am in favor of banning single-use plastic bags under a provision of a New Jersey law that takes effect on May 4, 2022, I am opposed to the same law’s ban on paper grocery sacks given out by supermarkets.

The reason is that I, like many others, use these large paper bags for our garbage. I called my legislative representatives to complain about this when the bill was first introduced. I was told that paper bags would be still be available in other stores, mainly smaller ones.

However, for those of us who don’t go to these kinds of stores that often, this isn’t a viable option. So without the grocery bags, I will have to purchase plastic garbage bags. What good does that do?

I realize this law is here to stay, but I wanted to air my grievance about its unintended result.

Veronica Guarraia, Somerville

Add both greenway and new train

As someone who has been on New York City’s High Line a few times, I applaud the plan to have a nine-mile walkable, bikeable greenway going from Montclair to Jersey City along the route of the old Boonton Line train. This would open up many recreational possibilities.

However, I would hope that a light-rail system allowing people another way to get to Jersey City’s PATH station would also be considered. A proposed rail line to the American Dream mall and MetLife stadium, using the part of the same right-of-way as the greenway, is OK, but transport to connect with PATH trains and the existing Hudson-Bergen light rail system would be a more productive addition to area transportation.

Hopefully walking, hiking, biking and electric light rail that actually unites existing transportation can all be included in the final Essex-Hudson Greenway project. It would open up even more possibilities to travel from the Montclair area to Jersey City, Hoboken and the light rail system.

Jeff Levine, West Caldwell

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