Congressman Andy Kim Pays Tribute To Republican Senator

Held at the Hotel ML on Route 73, the breakfast also featured remarks from Burlington County Freeholder Dan O’Connell and state Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Delran.

MOUNT LAUREL — Long before he was sworn into office, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim said he had a model to emulate for how he wanted to serve as an elected representative.

That model was Republican Sen. Richard Lugar.

The soft-spoken Republican from Indiana spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate and was considered both a leading voice in foreign relations and national security, but also in bipartisan cooperation and compromise. He died Sunday at age 87.

Kim, D-3rd of Bordentown Township, paid tribute to the late lawmaker Monday during a speech to area business leaders, where he credited Lugar as a hero and mentor who set an example for lawmakers at all levels of government to follow.

“He taught me and showed me that bipartisanship isn’t just signing your name and co-sponsoring a piece of legislation. It’s about embodying a part of who you are. It’s about showing people respect. It’s about not dismissing ideas simply because of who wrote them and the party they’re affiliated with,” Kim said during his keynote address at a Southern New Jersey Development Council breakfast. “Those are the lessons he taught me: that the value of an idea, the merits of a policy should be dictated by the quality of its substance and whether or not it affects and helps the people you represent.”

Held at the Hotel ML on Route 73, the breakfast also featured remarks from Burlington County Freeholder Dan O’Connell and state Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Delran.

Kim’s speech was largely devoted to Lugar and the example he set for the freshman Democrat, who formerly worked as a fellow for the senator’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kim would later work as a U.S. diplomat and national security advisor in the Pentagon and President Barack Obama’s White House before returning to New Jersey to run for Congress in 2017 and 2018.

Kim said he first met Lugar in 2005 when he was preparing to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. Lugar, a Rhodes scholar himself, reached out to him and the other Americans selected to attend the prestigious school and invited them to keep in touch as pen pals.

“He offered to my class that he’d love to stay in touch with us while we were at Oxford in the same vein, and I took him up on it and we would send messages back and forth. I felt a great honor to be able to connect with a United States senator,” Kim recalled.

The following year, while Kim was working as a fellow for Lugar’s Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar invited him to breakfast in the Senate dining hall. He said Lugar shared his thoughts about what it took to be a successful legislator.

“He taught me a lot about how, even though he was working on foreign policy and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was someone who was deeply focused on his home state, deeply focused on their issues,” Kim said. “And even when it came to foreign policy, having to make sure that was relating that back to his state; that he was able to explain to the great people of Indiana why it was important for their state that their senator be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Singleton also spoke about bipartisan cooperation from representatives of all levels of government to enhance and protect Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

“Each and every one of us has an obligation, regardless of whether we represent areas of the joint base or whether we’re just plain old New Jersey residents who care, the idea of making sure we have viable military installations with mission forward objectives, allows us to keep those bases whole,” Singleton said.

The senator also used his remarks to update the business leaders present about the state Legislature’s ongoing review of Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal for the upcoming 2020 fiscal year and other relevant issues, including the stalled progress of legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use and the recent controversies surrounding the state’s tax incentives for businesses.

The latter issue has become particularly heated in Trenton, as Murphy has pushed to overhaul the program, which is due to expire in July, following reports that tax credits may have been awarded to some businesses without proper review and verification that businesses delivered on jobs and capital investments they promised.

Murphy has also sought to remake the state Economic Development Authority’s board, which oversees the incentives programs. He recently appointed former Goldman Sachs executive Kevin Quinn to become the new chairman of the EDA board, replacing Laurence Downes, who was appointed to the post by Murphy’s predecessor, Chris Christie. However, the other board members appointed by Christie have refused to resign, among them, Bill Layton, the former Burlington County Republican chairman.

Singleton said the incentives have been critical to attracting new employers and investment to Burlington County and the city of Camden and should not be discarded.

“I can ride up and down Route 130 in my neck of the woods and my legislative district and point to exactly what tax incentives have done and what they mean ... the Subaru (distribution facility), Burlington Coat Factory ... those are businesses and industries that would not be here (without) the work of many of us,” Singleton said. But he also stressed that any “bad actors” who received incentives without delivering promised jobs and investment should be made public and held accountable.

“Anyone who has utilized these programs in a way that is not really what was intended to do, should be held accountable to the taxpayers and should also be held accountable under the auspices of our criminal justice too. Because they’re frankly stealing from each and every one of us,” he said.

Original Article