By Olivia Nicoletti
A debate was held on Oct. 5 in Lynch Adler between current Democrat Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and her challenger, Republican Diane Allen. The event was hosted by The Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics.
This debate was the first and last for Oliver and Allen. However, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and his opponent Republican Jack Ciattarelli have gone head to head at The Performing Arts Center in Newark and will get to again on Oct. 12 at Rowan University.
Junior political science major Sean Cavanaugh, and Anthony Corbi, a junior sports media major, were two of the students that helped run the event.
Cavanaugh said shortly before the event, “As a student here, I’m expecting a very spirited debate. I think the two candidates will be cordial, very respectful of each other. And I’m very excited to be helping out … and that Rider is hosting this debate.”
According to Corbi, “We get a lot of politicians that come here but we don’t really get major debates. … This is the first one here since 2012. So it’s really exciting just to have two candidates for state governments and major state governments debating here.”
Oliver and Allen spoke on a plethora of topics including vaccines, mental health and gun violence.
When the topic of the vaccine arose, Allen spoke on her son’s near-death experience from a vaccine when he was younger.
“I do think that our children should be taking vaccines, but I want to say something about it. It is not a mandate where you must do it this way … a parent needs to talk with the doctors and to make sure it is right,” Allen said. “We need to make sure that we are doing it the right way; it is not one size fits all.”
In the same concern for the well-being of the children in New Jersey, Oliver spoke on the issue of students falling behind in school due to the changes made because of the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that there have been learning problems and people are really going the extra mile to try to ensure that students can be brought up to where they should be. I believe that summer programs – you will see them ramped up as well,” Oliver said. “But a choice had to be made about the health of employees and children and teachers, and I think no one regrets it.”
Regardless of the difference of opinions, the well-being of children was a major theme of the debate.
Oliver said, “I worry about our children … I am thankful that there are programs that are going to be working for kids in the future.”
While hosting the debate was a great achievement for The Rebovich Institute, political science professor and Rebovich Institute Director Micah Rasmussen was focused on providing a memorable learning opportunity for his students.
“As proud as I am that Rider is hosting the debate, I’m even more proud to be able to bring this learning experience to so many of our students,” Rasmussen, who was also a panelist for the debate, said. “I think the experience will bring students the chance to be intimately involved in the production of a major political debate.”
This story has been updated to reflect the correct quote attribution of Sean Cavanaugh and Anthony Corbi.