Vin Gopal, a well known Indian-American Democratic Party activist and small-business owner in New Jersey, has formally announced his run for the New Jersey state Senate on February 22. Gopal recently stepped down after serving for four years as the chair of the Monmouth County Democratic Party, a perch from where he is credited with engineering several electoral victories to mayoral, city councils and the state assembly.
If Gopal wins, he will be the first Indian-American state Senator. His first fundraiser March 1 is in the home of a Bangladeshi-American couple Nasreen and Ghulam Suhrawardi in Colts Neck, N.J. A Senate race, he estimates, will cost around $2 million and he is counting on the community support for the elections in November 2018.
According to Gopal, the most pressing issues facing the district and the state: “We have pressing property tax issues. We have a mass municipality problem in 566 towns — parking authorities, sewage authorities, school districts. These are not popular issues to take on and I think both parties have failed on this issue and I want to go in and try to bring some consensus and work hard to really help the taxpayers of the state.”
Gopal believes that “We need to seriously look at our school funding formula. We need to seriously look at our overall property tax structure. We need to look at this grip of municipalities and government that New Jersey currently has.”
In his opinion, New Jersey, because of the last several governors, not just Gov. Christie, has severe, severe economic problems. Gopal wants both parties to come together, with a Democratic governor which I believe will be Phil Murphy, to come together and solve some of these economic problems. “And we can do that by solving the school funding program, by solving the issue of 566 municipalities. We have towns in Monmouth County that have a population of 200, 300, 400 people and they have full municipal services. That hurts every taxpayer in the state.”
On Gov. Christie’s “Fairness Formula” Gopal, says, “I think it’s a terrible formula that he has. I support the one that Senate President [Steve] Sweeney and Assemblyman [Eric] Houghtaling and Assemblywoman [Joann] Downey have in the 11th District which takes the politics out of it and actually gives fairness. That way you don’t have legislators in different areas of the state wanting to get money for their district. I think we need a fair formula.”
According to him, his hard work and dedication have paid off. Gopal, who owns a successful business that now has 14 employees, recalls, “When I started my business 10 years ago, I was the only one there. I went months without taking a paycheck. I worked very hard. I’ve been a board member of our county chamber of commerce. I am very passionate about the economy, creating jobs and ending the political gridlock that exists. I think Sen. Beck has been in office for nearly 20 years as a lobbyist and as a legislator and I think it’s just simply time for a change.”