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MIDDLETOWN, NJ – Following the backlash from a private conversation in a parking lot including Jeana Sager who is running for Middletown Township Committee, Jeana Sager has released this statement:

It is a sad state of affairs when Americans cannot have honest conversations about timely issues such as police violence and the racist and prejudicial drug war, which is killing our youth, without fear of political crucifixion by both political parties.

The off the cuff conversation, which occurred in June in a parking lot was not a prepared speech. I was not discussing a Middletown campaign platform. I was talking about issues that impact families in my community. My opponents held on to this information while they figured out how to hurt my candidacy, a move which clearly shows ulterior motives rather than being the forthright and honest people they would have you believe they are.

I do wish I had stated some points more clearly, given there is a distinction between each candidate’s opinions and their joint platforms. My statements were an attempt to say that this is not an official campaign position but I’m willing to have a side conversation with those present. To be clear, with this immature distraction, the incumbents, and unfortunately, my former running mate Sean F. Byrnes, have moved the attention completely away from issues directly impacting Middletown families and other communities.

They do not want to talk about how taxes here keep going up or that Middletown has become cost prohibitive for families like mine, as a single mother of three paying nearly $14,000 a year in property taxes.

They don’t want to talk about how ineffective drug treatment costs New Jersey tax-payers $1.2 billion a year with a 40% failure rate and skyrocketing overdose deaths, (according to NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services) yet jurisdictions that have decriminalized and developed robust harm reduction have nearly eliminated fatal overdoses. This is while our community, Middletown, ranks #17 out of the top 30 heroin using communities in New Jersey. If we keep doing things their way and not having these conversations, our youth will keep dying.

With regards to my reference to police crime, Mayor Perry who is calling for my resignation is one of the biggest hypocrites who sat silent along with Republican candidates Rick Hibell and Kevin Settembrino, when a Middletown police officer recently almost killed a New York resident while driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of a severe accident. I encourage people to take a deep breath and focus on what was actually said about police violence and not what people say was said.

If we can’t have an honest conversation about police, some of whom act criminally, then we are not protecting our citizens or the police who risk their lives for us. Middletown clearly wants to have these conversations as evidenced by the wildly successful Black Lives Matter event at The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County. Clearly one more issue of importance to the community ignored by the entrenched political powers.

Over half the population in Middletown is female, yet women represent only 1/5 of our township committee, a gross underrepresentation. I am the only woman currently running. People have always come up with reasons to silence and push women out of politics. Just because I want to have tough conversations about difficult issues, some private and some public, doesn’t mean I will be bullied out of this space by the very cowards who think they are in a better position to ignore these issues to the detriment of our community.