UNION COUNTY — Responding to allegations that he no longer resided in the 20th Legislative District of New Jersey, Republican Assembly challenger Chris Hackett was quick to dismiss the assertion.
The otherwise yawn-inducing 20th district assembly race has little or no fire to it, other than Hackett firing off press releases about the need for Democrat Assemblyman Joe Cryan to be replaced.
When reached about the residence allegation, Cryan only provided a short comment on the seriousness of the issue. “It raises troubling questions about his residency and candidacy,” said the assemblyman who has held the seat since 2002.
Candidates running for the assembly must live in the district in which they run, which in the 20th district includes Union, Elizabeth, Hillside and Roselle. Hackett is running with Charles Donnelly of Union. In fact, all candidates for state representative positions across the country must live in the district in which they declared candidacy.
When reached on Saturday, Hackett, 23, maintained he still lived on Sumner Avenue in Union with his parents, but documents provided to LocalSource late last week indicated otherwise.
According to Facebook entries made by Hackett’s fiancé Taylor Monge made on May 27, Hackett moved to Ogden Avenue in Jersey City with her and another female roommate.
“Officially living in Jersey City with Christopher Hackett and Julie Embley. Roomies!!!” said Monge on her Facebook page. In a later post made in July by Embley, the roommate commented on changes to her living status.
“Successfully moved in today with the roomies! Love love the apartment,”
Embley said, noting she was “with Christopher Hackett and Taylor Monge,” at
the time by “tagging” them on the social networking site.
Hackett seemed more concerned that someone gained access to his fiancé’s Facebook page, but he stressed he was not her roommate, as postings indicated.
“I’m not going to deny that I’m there a lot of the time but my residence is still in Union,” he said, adding that what people post on Facebook can be misinterpreted. He did not, however, explain why Monge would have posted such information if it was not true. When pressed, Hackett brushed off the Facebook posting.
“I think people say things on Facebook and they have to be taken as just that – Facebook postings,” said the assembly challenger.
Hackett has gone after Cryan during his campaign, noting in one press release that his incumbent opponent had not had competition in nearly a decade.
“That lack of competition and the corruption it breeds catalyzes voter apathy,” he said. Hackett also went for the jugular when he brought up something that happened last year when he was running for a seat on Union’s township committee. Although he lost that bid, he said he never forgot what transpired after the local forum.
“Assemblyman Joe Cryan, who I couldn’t have imagined would be my competition this year, approached me and asked ‘when are you going to come join our side?’ he said with a smile. I was shocked and humbled in the moment,” Hackett said, adding that his first inclination was “someone wants me on their side? I must have done something right.”
But Hackett said after thinking about it he came to a different realization.
“I realized that this is how they function,” the Republican candidate said in campaign literature. “When you have that much power, any threat to it is silenced not through vanquishing them at the polls, but by handing them a position or job. Then they become boss.”