Bret Schundler is a Professor of Public Policy at The King s College, located at the Empire State Building in New York City. He is also the Managing Partner of People Power America, LLC, which licenses TeamVolunteer, an online utility that helps political campaigns and non-profit organizations coordinate volunteer phone banks.
At the age of 33, Bret Schundler became the first Republican since the First World War to be elected the Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey a community of 250,000 that is 65% minority and only 6% Republican. In 1993, he was re-elected with 69% of the vote, the largest margin of victory for a Mayor in that city s history. In 1997, he was re-elected in another landslide to become Jersey City s longest serving Mayor in 50 years. Choosing not to run for Mayor a fourth time in 2001, he instead won the Republican nomination for Governor of New Jersey with a primary victory that was featured in Campaign and Elections magazine as the best-run political campaign of the year. He did not succeed in the general election, nor in 2005 when he ran for Governor a second time.
In the years prior to Bret Schundler s initial mayoral election, soaring property taxes in Jersey City threatened residents with the loss of their homes. Unable to pay their bills, one-fifth of property owners faced tax foreclosure. Property values were plummeting and property abandonment was surging. Jersey City was also leading New Jersey in job loss. Unemployment and crime were sky-high. Jersey City faced bankruptcy.
Bret Schundler s innovative policies, called a "national model for urban reform" by Time Magazine, reversed these trends. His policing policies reduced crime by 40%. His tax cuts saved residents their homes. His pro-growth economic policies slashed unemployment. During his tenure, Jersey City enjoyed ten times the job growth of New Jersey's five other largest cities combined, and led the 100 largest cities in America in job growth and in poverty reduction. With Schundler as mayor, Jersey City s property values sky-rocketed.
Bret Schundler He orchestrated the successful fight to pass charter school legislation in New Jersey, and led Jersey City to becoming the first governmental entity in the United States to institute medical savings accounts
Nationally, Bret Schundler is best known as a leader in the fight for parental choice in education and as a defender of religious liberty. He served as the National President of Americans for School Choice and won a United States Federal Court of Appeals decision (ACLU v. Schundler), written by now United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, that protects religious expression against government discrimination. Indeed, his defense of religious freedom won Bret Schundler the prestigious Canterbury Medal for Religious Liberty.
Bret Schundler was born in Morristown and grew up in Woodbridge Township and Westfield, New Jersey. He was an All-State football lineman at Westfield High School, studied at the University of Haifa in Israel, and graduated with honors from Harvard University.
Following a stint as an Executive Assistant to a Democratic Congressman and as a Field Coordinator with Gary Hart's 1984 Democratic presidential campaign, he built a financially successful career in the securities industry at Salomon Brothers and at C. J. Lawrence.
Preceding his successful run for Mayor, Bret Schundler and his wife, Lynn, an attorney, left their professional careers to travel around the world for a year and witness the historic overthrow of Communism in many countries. Upon their return to the United States, Bret Schundler became a Republican and ran for State Senate from Jersey City, where he earned 46% of the vote in his first run for public office.Review:
Sounding a recurrent theme of a rebounding city on the cusp of a new millennium, Mayor Bret Schundler and members of the City Council were sworn in yesterday, poised to lead Jersey City into the 21st century.
The ceremony also seemed an opportunity for some to put an end to past disagreements, with Governor Christine Whitman , in a brief appearance, praising Schundler's tenure. Relations between the two Republicans had been somewhat distant since Whitman's decision not to push school vouchers -- a pet issue of Schundler's -- through the State legislature.
"It is a daunting thing to think we have elected a team that will lead this city to 2001," said Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick during the ceremony before several hundred people at Jersey City State College.
In brief remarks before Schundler's swearing in, Whitman heaped praise on her fellow Republican for keeping taxes stable, reducing crime and restoring a sense of hope to Jersey City.
"Schundler's victory was not just a personal victory for one man," Whitman said. "It was a victory for principles, for leadership, for people of this city and this great state."
"From cleaning up the city streets and neighborhoods to cleaning up City Hall, the success being achieved here is resounding," said Whitman, who is seeking re-election in November. "Over the past four years, Jersey City has become a model for the nation."
With only one week since the end of his protracted campaign, Schundler said he a little time to prepare a formal inaugural address."
However, in what he called "shared thoughts," Schundler touched on a range of philosophical issues, as he called for a government rooted in morality.
He said government should foster personal responsibility, and used welfare and school vouchers as examples of areas in which government can succeed in doing so.
While for much of the past two years Schundler has placed issues such as school vouchers on the back burner, a bit of the old Schundler re-emerged as he sounded a call for a greater emphasis on personal freedom as a goal of public policy.
Schundler's speech blended strong conservative themes of personal freedom and a call for a return to government as a "God based responsibility."
"Our focus must not be on entitlements, it must be on empowerment," Schundler said. " It must be in making sure that every child does have the tools to walk on their own two feet and to give to someone else. If we are serious about empowerment, then we have to change the way we provide services," he said.
In a speech that spanned the ages, Schundler ran through a litany of events he cast as historical follies-from the rise of Marxism to the suicide of rock singer Kurt Cobain-which he said were fueled by the notion that right and wrong are relative terms.
Schundler recounted that he had recently seen a man in a T shirt that quoted Friedrich Nietzsche: "There is no truth; everything is permitted." " I thought to myself, what I should do is belt him in the back of the head," Schundler said.
Widening his thesis, Schundler linked such philosophy with "legal positivists" with whom he's butted heads, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and school voucher opponents.
Referring to a legal battle with the ACLU over religious holiday displays at City Hall, Schundler said, "What that is about saying that there is something greater than us."
Schundler said leaders must draw their inspiration form figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., who recognized a fundamental truth based in religious faith and fought for it.
"We have to stand on moral convictions," Schundler said. --The Jersey Journal
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