HOPATCONG, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received an unusually warm reception at a town hall meeting Wednesday — warm enough to make him blush.
During a question-and-answer session at a church hall in Hopatcong in Sussex County, Debra Nicholson of Sparta prefaced a question about affordable housing with this praise: “Having a governor who’s smart and has the perseverance to do what’s right is hot and sexy.”
The portly but recently slimmer Christie responded by asking her to write a note to his wife restating that claim immediately.
Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary Tuesday, “so comments like those after 25 years will keep her on her toes,” the governor said.
As he traveled through Mercer County later Wednesday, Christie took some time to speak with WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott about the state’s flooding problems, property tax relief and public workers’ pensions.
Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott’s full interview with Governor Christie
Christie said that in addition to declaring a State of Emergency in parts of New Jersey, he would “deploy…National Guards assets and State Police assets” to affected areas ahead of additional rain headed to the region Thursday.
“We’re not waiting for the rain to even start before we start to make our preparations and get all those assets in place,” he said.
At the town hall, Christie told the crowd to blame Democrats in the Legislature if their property taxes go up in August.
He complained that the Legislature had passed only a handful of his bills to help towns keep down property taxes, which are the highest in the nation at an average of $7,300 a home.
Meanwhile, 16 towns are preparing to ask residents to exceed a 2 percent property tax cap that went into effect in January, according to the New Jersey League of Municipalities.
“If your property taxes go up in August, don’t see me,” Christie warned.
Christie also addressed public worker pensions in his interview with WCBS. When asked what a fair compromise would look like for both employees and the state, Christie responded “I think what’s fair is what we can afford.”
“Right now our pension fund is $54 billion underfunded and if we do nothing, 30 years from now this pension fund will be $183 billion underfunded,” he said. “It’ll be out of business and that will not be fair to the people who are counting on the pension.”
The New Jersey governor was also asked about his style of governance and how it contrasted with his mentor former Governor Tom Kean.
“We’re two different people. Secondly, he governed in very different times. Governor Kean governed in the 80′s in boom times when the economy was booming and the state’s budget doubled,” Christie said.
Christie said he believes that if Kean had governed in a present time, “he’d be doing the same things because it’s the only responsible thing to do.”
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