Barry challenging Ramone for District 21 house seat
In the District 21 state house race, Republican Mike Ramone is hoping to secure his sixth term, while newcomer Democrat Stephanie Barry hopes to unseat him in the Nov. 6 election.
District 21 encompasses an area northeast of Newark from around Paper Mill Road to Limestone Road and Kirkwood Highway.
Barry comes from the nonprofit world, which would be a “seamless transition,” should she be elected, she said.
“The work in nonprofits really requires a personal one-on-one connection,” she said. “What you need to do when you’re trying to help people is you need to listen. Listening is key because then you get to find out what their needs are, what their concerns are. What I learned from knocking on doors for the last several months is the residents of this district have a great desire to be heard.”
Barry said that her top priority would be to bring a Democratic voice to the 21st district, which she feels has been “inaccurately represented for a number of years.”
“I’d like to continue to focus on the Democratic values that the people in this district care about,” she said.
For Barry, that includes equity in funding for schools; quality, accessible, affordable healthcare; and expanding mental health and drug addiction treatment programs.
In her conversations with people by knocking on doors, Barry said those in the district are concerned with maintaining a great quality of life.
“I know the district really well because I lived here for a number of years and raised my family here,” she said. “I want to continue to live here and I want to continue to ensure that it is a fabulous place to live, to raise a family, and to grow old.”
Ramone, who was first elected in 2008, said that he’s always had the basic platform of taking care of his community, which he’s tried to do by being accessible and participating in community meetings.
“Because if you’re not accessible when they need you, then you’re really not doing your job,” he said.
As part of the minority party, Ramone said that he often works with people across the aisle to accomplish his goals. He has sat on several house committees, including the Joint Sunset Committee; Economic Development, Banking, Insurance and Commerce, Housing and Community Affairs, Revenue and Finance, Veterans Affairs, and Labor committees.
“Each have an enormous learning curve and a lot that it brings to somebody’s ability to serve as a more well-rounded, educated, experienced legislator,” he said.
He has championed not raising the gas tax and putting a lockbox on the transportation trust fund money that comes from the tolls and gas tax. As part of the Joint Finance Committee, he worked with other representatives and senators to tackle the $400 million budget shortfall last year.
Should he be re-elected, Ramone wants to continue to support small businesses, reduce state spending and reduce regulatory overlays. He also wants to use his experience to help support the new representatives, as he was supported by peers when he was first elected.
“I think each year I go back a little better equipped to represent my district,” he said.