Major issues nearly absent from campaign trail, advocates say

“We have one of the worst racial wealth gaps in the country … where’s that discussion? We’ve talked a lot about how inflation has made things more expensive, which is true, and then what about our Black and brown communities, given the wealth gap?” said Henal Patel, director of law and policy at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

2022 study from the institute found the median household wealth for white families in New Jersey is $322,500, while the median for Black families is $17,700, and for Latino families, $26,100. The study says the state’s racial wealth gap is nearly double what it is nationally.

Patel would have wanted to see candidates discuss legislation like a bill to combat home appraisal discrimination. She also wondered why the governor didn’t use this election to gain support for his 2021 baby bonds proposal, which would have provided $1,000 for babies born into households with less than 500% of the federal poverty level.

Patel also pointed to a slew of bills stalled in the Legislature aimed at addressing policing problems, like ending qualified immunity and creating civilian review boards with subpoena power. Voters are supportive of more transparency from police, she said, but she hasn’t seen any candidates make it a focal point of their campaign this year.

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