LP New Jersey
Candidate for Governor
Ken Kaplan, Libertarian Party candidate for governor of New Jersey, has a bold plan to reduce the size and scope of government in his state, beginning with phasing out the state income tax.
“We’ve got a sales tax and we have an income tax, and when I was a child we had neither,” Kaplan said. “It’s because of the tremendous growth of the state government. We need to cut the size of that government drastically.”
New Jersey government contains many layers of bureaucracy, Kaplan noted, from the bloated state government and regulatory agencies to county and municipal governments, as well as relatively autonomous groups like public school boards. These overlapping levels of authority lead to tremendous redundancy and waste.
“I would eliminate county government entirely,” Kaplan said. “Some of what the counties do would revert to the state, and some of what the counties do would be done through ad-hoc regionalization.” Cities that have adjacent interests may find it worthwhile to combine services on an ad hoc basis, he said, but that doesn’t justify the existence of an entire layer of government.
Kaplan points out that many pressing community needs could be addressed simply by eliminating existing harmful regulations rather than passing new ones.
“Affordable housing is an issue in New Jersey,” Kaplan said. “The courts have mandated certain unsatisfactory remedies that essentially enable builders to go into towns, and in return for building so-called affordable housing units, they’re allowed much higher densities than they ordinarily would be allowed. That was a court-imposed solution, and nobody’s happy with it.”
Instead of showing selective favoritism to particular companies, Kaplan insists that giving greater freedom to ordinary homeowners would easily satisfy the low-cost housing demand.
“My solution for affordable housing is to simply, as a matter of right, allow all owners of single-family homes to convert them to two-family homes if they wish, and owners of two-family homes to convert them to three-family homes if they wish,” Kaplan said. “This would have a two-fold benefit, in that it would create thousands of units of affordable housing at no cost to the taxpayers, and it would enable the people doing this, who often would be empty-nesters or other people who no longer needed a big house, to continue staying in that home and give them some income to afford the high taxes and other maintenance costs.”
Kaplan is also focusing his campaign on important social issues like school choice, marriage equality, and marijuana legalization. Each issue involves personal choice, whether choosing the best educational options for each unique child, choosing a spouse, or adults choosing what to put in their own bodies.
“I’m a strong proponent of marriage equality,” Kaplan said. “I have the libertarian view that the government shouldn’t even be involved in marriage, but as long as the government does regulate and control marriage, then the state has to give equal access to all citizens.”
Kaplan is also a strong advocate of the Second Amendment.
“We can’t allow any clause of the Constitution to be eroded without endangering other parts of the Constitution,” Kaplan said. “If they can overrule the Second Amendment, and put all kinds of limits on it, then what’s to stop them from using the same logic to erode the First Amendment and say that only certain religions are allowed, or only certain numbers of people are allowed to assemble? We have to stand guard on the entire Constitution and the entire Bill of Rights.”
Kaplan has been a long-time Libertarian Party activist and candidate for other offices since he joined in 1973, after being inspired by an LP campaign for mayor of New York City. His disillusionment with Republicans and Democrats found a new home among the liberty activists he found then. He has degrees from Brandeis University, where he graduated cum laude, and New York University Law School, has worked in real estate for more than three decades, and has owned KenKap Realty Corp. in Parsippany, N.J., for the past six years. He believes that his practical background in business gives him insight into the economy that most politicians lack.
“I grew up in a family of small businesspeople, people who had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps,” Kaplan said. “So I have a lot of respect for self-made people, and for people innovating and working hard.” New Jersey voters have a chance to elect Kaplan on Nov. 5 this year, and put freedom into practice.