by Krysta Huber
Governor Chris Christie conducted a town hall meeting at the National Guard Armory in Westfield on Feb. 8, as a continuation of his State of the State address delivered in January.
To the 600 people in attendance, the governor introduced himself as someone familiar with the Westfield community. Christie said that he and his wife lived in an apartment on Prospect Street for several years.
"It’s great to be back in Westfield to talk to all of you about the issues that I think are really important," Christie said.
Among these issues, Christie addressed federal spending cuts, tax cuts and education.
The governor explained that during his first week in office, he needed to cut the state’s budget by $2 billion, in order to meet government payroll in March.
After making these cuts, Christie said that many of his critics claimed that the revised budget ruined New Jersey education.
Some WHS students said that they were engaged by Christie’s approach to education, specifically his proposed tenure policy for teachers.
"I found his education reform plan interesting because I have had bad teachers [that] I knew would never lose their jobs because of tenure," said senior Ilana Rood.
According to Christie, his tenure reform plan would create a system in which teachers are evaluated by their peers and administrators, with 35 percent of the evaluation based on the results of standardized test scores.
"I think that what Christie plans to do to the education system is a much needed change that will bring the teaching profession on par, in terms of performance review, with the private sector," Rood added.
Rood attended the meeting with the AP U.S. Government and Politics course, taught by Ms. Tricia Iannuzzi.
Said Iannuzzi: "I thought [that] the town hall meeting would be a perfect opportunity for my AP Government and Politics class to witness politics in action…. This was a great opportunity for them to be exposed to NJ public policy."
Aside from Christie’s policies, WHS students noted that Christie’s personality emerged at the town hall meeting.
Junior Amanda Soldati said that she enjoyed how Christie incorporated jokes about New Jersey stereotypes, as well as anecdotes about the years he lived in Westfield.
Said senior Daniel Fahrenthold: "I have great respect for Christie, even if we do disagree on almost everything…. Christie is a capable, charismatic politician. He’s certainly a force to be reckoned with."