The 3rd district congressional primary elections will be decided next Tuesday for both major parties. For the Democrats, it looks like Andy Kim is a shoe in for the seat, but on the Republican side, the battle between two of the most unconventional candidates rages on. In this corner, you have the bombastically bearded anti-lockdown celebrity and ex con, Ian Smith, and in this corner, you have the former punk rocker who inherited a Bruce Wayne sized fortune, Bob Healey.
The two agreed on many issues when they debated a couple of weeks ago, with one stark difference. Ian wanted to end the war on pot and stop imprisoning people, and Healey thought cannabis should remain illegal, which for a cannabis activist such as myself, is a big deal. Andy Kim has said that he doesn’t support NJ and or the federal government legalizing cannabis, so with nearly 70% of NJ voting to legalize cannabis, the only real progressive choice on this issue, is Smith.
I offered all three candidates the opportunity to sit down or do an interview by phone or in person, but only Smith accepted.
I did get a quick call from Congressman Kim though, but he never got back to me as promised and communicates with me only through his staff members.
In 2017, just prior to Kim announcing his candidacy, the Burlington County Young Democrats put out a post that claimed Kim was a veteran, something that Kim is not. Even though his opponent’s campaign pointed this out in 2018, the post still remained as of a couple of weeks ago.
In the beginning of the year I was pleasantly surprised to see Congressman Kim make a post about the location in Maple Shade where Martin Luther King Jr.’s first civil rights protest took place, he even gave me a shout out for my work on the project. Excited, I reached out to see how his office could possibly help the efforts to save the home in Camden where Dr. King actually planned the Maple Shade protest, but I was soon disappointed. I asked for a simple letter of support for the home to be placed on the Historic Registry, but I was told that since the home is not in Andy’s district, he could not provide one, and from then on, my emails fell on deaf ears.
That was until I emailed a screenshot of the 2017 post that claimed Andy Kim was a veteran, which I sent at 11:11 am on May 9th, seeking comment as to why the post still remained online and if it was in fact a real post. Exactly 22 minutes later, my phone rang, it was Andy Kim, who said he was calling to talk about the MLK projects, but I knew what compelled the call.
When I asked Kim about the veteran post, he chalked it up to “a bunch of dumb college kids”, a statement that his campaign admits that he made, but they claim he didn’t say the word, “dumb”, in the sentence. Either way, as of just a couple of weeks ago, that post that was known to have published the false claim of him being a veteran, still remained.
So at this point, I have talked to both Ian Smith, and Andy Kim, and from my experience with the two, I can say that Kim was evasive and ambiguous, while Smith was straight forward, and what I felt to be honest.
Even though I have offered Healey an interview, his campaign has not even so much as declined, so I cannot tell whether his nose grows while speaking as I felt Kim’s nose grew. I felt like Kim was Pinocchio himself, with a puppeteer from the Democratic machine behind him, poorly controlling his strings.
What I am surprised about though as an independent journalist, is that just one week before the primaries, nobody in the media has reported on an issue that I think will absolutely tank Healey in the General election against Kim, an issue involving a lawsuit at his company, Viking Yachts.
When John Diller was hired at Viking Yachts in 2014, the fact that he was a gay, was unknown to his employers, and for the first couple of years he was employed, he had no problems with his working conditions. One of Diller’s supervisors, David Wilson, made it clear during a conversation with Diller that Viking Yachts did not allow “faggots” to work there, making Diller obviously uncomfortable. In 2016, Diller was set to get married, but that meant he had to inform his employer in order for his partner to get benefits.
Diller alleges in the complaint, that after he informed his employer of his sexual orientation in 2016, his working conditions became extremely hostile. Diller alleges that Wilson began making “lewd sexual comments” towards him and also “drastically change Plaintiff’s(Diller’s) work load without explanation”.
Diller alleged that when he asked to be transferred from Wilson’s department due to the hostile working conditions, that “Viking took no action”, which purposely left Diller in a hostile environment. Diller’s complaint goes on to allege that due to the harassment, Diller needed to seek therapy in 2017, and by 2019 , the abuse had caused him physical symptoms that forced him to go on disability.
When Diller returned, he alleged that he again requested that Viking transfer him from Mr. Wilson’s department, but instead of doing so, they told that there was no other place for him at the company, and fired him.
The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount shortly before the time that Healey decided to run for Congress in 2021, which was also around the same time Healey was battling Moorestown to have a servants quarters built above his garage for an Au Paire. Moorestown denied the application for the variance, but Healey appealed to the Superior Court, where the court upheld the zoning boards decision to deny the application.
What many unaffiliated voters don’t know, is that on the June 7th, they can still cast a ballot for your favorite candidate, you just have to change your party for the day at the polls and submit a ballot.
No matter how you break it down, the CD3 has quite the cast of characters running for the seat, and one of them will be the Congressman representing the people of the CD3 come January 1st, 2023. The best part about it, you get the chance to help decide it, which in my opinion, is what makes America so great.