Over the past few weeks, I've dedicated time on the show every Thursday to highlight some of the elected officials and candidates who truly represent the best that New Jersey has to offer.

This week we were joined by two candidates for the Assembly running in a district that covers Warren, Sussex, and Morris county towns. Jason Sarnoski and Josh Aikens are two outstanding candidates running on simple issues that transcend partisan talking points. Restoring parental rights and fighting to make New Jersey affordable again.

If the Republicans are going to take the majority in the Assembly this year — and it is possible with a change in just seven seats — they have to embrace policies that represent good government and common sense.

In addition to the great work that Sarnoski and Aikens are doing leading the way for parents, students, teachers, business owners, and taxpayers, there are great candidates running across the state. Stay tuned for more on serious contenders in Gloucester and Camden County who will help turn that majority red.

On the other side of the political aisle, state Sen. Vin Gopal, a Monmouth County Democrat, is pushing a common sense bill to prevent constitutional officeholders from being party bosses. Specifically, sheriffs, surrogates, and clerks, all of whom have a role in protecting election integrity and security, would not be able to hold a party office.

The same rules already apply to judges and prosecutors and I've yet to meet a Republican or a Democrat who thinks that's a bad idea. The challenge in New Jersey is too many people involved in the political process are blinded by their partisan loyalty, even when it conflicts with common sense.

The great news is that most Republicans get it and half the GOP county chairs did not sign a letter defending the one GOP chairman who will be impacted by the legislation. Unfortunately for the GOP brand, NJGOP chairman Bob Hugin decided to go after Vin Gopal in a really slimy political way, attacking him personally for previous votes instead of discussing the merits of the bill.

As you know, I've had public disagreements with Vin, specifically his sponsorship of the sex education bill, which resulted in our group flooding his inbox with thousands of letters from angry parents. He had the integrity to not only call me to address the issue head-on but also called the governor and pushed to revisit the age-appropriateness of the curriculum. He's also the ONLY Democrat to break with the party to stand up for common sense and oppose the minimum wage increase bill a few years back.

Beyond the support that Vin enjoys from the business community and from many Republicans in Monmouth County, the bill itself is smart. Rooting out conflicts of interest and political corruption should be a priority of both parties.

In Monmouth County, the fact that the sheriff is also the party boss is a recipe for disaster. How could you possibly have a fair primary if the guy who runs the process to decide who the party is going to support is also running security and overseeing election integrity?

Caller Ashley Lamb shared her personal experience with political bullying and harassment. She made a strong case about why this bill needs to pass.

This is a test to see how many Republicans have the guts to stand up for election integrity and common sense, and how many will retreat from logic to oppose a bill to protect their insider friend. The voters who will decide the fate of legislators in 2023 are watching closely. The voters who will choose a new governor in 2025 are watching too.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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