|Former NJ State Governor Brendan Byrne|
Byrne answered a series of questions about his tenure as governor. From the inauguration of New Jersey's state income tax to his landmark decision to have casino gaming in Atlantic City, the former governor demonstrated not only his understanding of the critical issues of his day, but also his unique sense of humor. As a matter of fact, at one point during the dialogue, Governor Byrne said jokingly that it was not his idea to have the Meadowlands arena named after him, but he did want the race track to be named "Byrne Downs" in his honor. Members of the audience chuckled.
Later during the conversation, the former governor went on to say that despite being the chief executive of a state like New Jersey, he never thought about running for anything on a national level even though many people suggested that he should. He characterized his gubernatorial management style in no uncertain terms by saying that if he wanted something done, his staff better get it done. The two term governor went on to mention that despite his long career in politics, he is neither jaded nor cynical about the current state of politics. He rhetorically asked, "Why did you take this job [public service] if not to make a difference?" Governor Byrne also answered questions from students in the audience about the current tax structure in New Jersey along with his suggestions on how to address issues facing public education. Byrne said that Governor Christie needs to bend on his no new taxes campaign promise because the current tax structure is in need of reform.
The dialogue took place in Rider University's Mercer Room at 7 o'clock.There was a hour long reception that preceded the conversation that gave event patrons an opportunity to mix and mingle while enjoying snacks and refreshments. The event was hosted by the Rebovich Institute for Politics. Students, members of the community, and Rider University staff were all in attendance.There was a brief question and answer period following the dialogue. Anwar's Reflections was there to capture what the audience had to say about why they decided to come to the discussion.
One member of the audience, Christopher Natero, an American Studies student, said he enjoyed previous Rebovich Institute events because they were "engaging". During the reception, he told me that he comes to these sorts of events because "its not just the professors talking, they let the students get involved in the discussion and ask questions, its really open to ideas and new things, not just something like a lecture". Natero went on to say that he came to the Byrne event because he "wanted to see the experience and what it takes to climb up the ranks in politics".
Another audience member, Dr. Harvey Kornberg, a Political Science professor at Rider, was quoted saying that he went to the event because "he was interested in seeing Governor Byrne because he is a favorite of his."
Yet another audience member, Bob Kenny, a lawyer and adjunct professor at Rider, said that he just wanted to hear him [Governor Byrne] speak, because he's an entertaining speaker. Kenny went on to say that these sorts of events are important for the university because they discuss issues that are "worth exploring". He also said these sorts of events carry on the work of the late Dr. David Rebovich.
Alexandra Laperry, a junior that is studying International Business, Economics, and Global Studies at Rider, said she took off work to attend the event. Laperry indicated that she attended previous Rebovich Institute events and enjoyed them all because they were "informative and the atmosphere was always nice". She went on to say a big reason she decided to attend the event was so she could get an idea of what Governor Byrne's outlook on things were and because "he did a lot of things for the state".
Anwar's Reflections will be sure to keep you up to date regarding any future events at Rider.