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November 07, 2017

Christie spars with voter on Election Day: 'Serving folks like you is a unique joy'

Gov. Chris Christie is on his way out of office, leaving as a historically unpopular governor. But on Election Day Tuesday, he displayed his brash way of engaging with constituents, a style that initially boosted his political rise but eventually soured him to many New Jersey residents.

After voting in his hometown of Mendham Township, another voter confronted Christie about the municipality merging with neighboring Mendham Borough. The township surrounds the borough on three sides, and both have separate municipal governments and services.

In a video of the exchange posted by New York Times reporter Nick Corasaniti, the voter asks why, after eight years in office, Christie never merged the two. The governor asserts that he can't, claiming that he never said he was going to merge the two towns.

That's when classic Christie comes out.

"The easiest thing in the world is to stand where you stand, and stand on the sidelines, and critique," Christie said, suggesting the voter should run for the township committee if she wants to help make the merger happen.

"It's easier to sit here and complain," Christie said. "But you know what, that's the joy of public service. It's serving folks — it's serving folks like you that is really such a unique joy."

The issue in question is one that has been raised multiple times in the Garden State for several years: Should some of New Jersey's more than 500 municipalities be consolidated in an effort to slash local taxes.

Christie actually has long been in favor of not only consolidation in general, but also of merging specifically Mendham Township and Mendham Borough. In 2013, he vocally supported a non-binding resolution in the township to begin talks of combining with the borough.

But despite the governor's public support of such actions, he's correct in saying that a merger must be decided at a local level. 

That noted, a 2014 WHYY report said Christie had left three spots on a consolidation commission empty since he took office in 2010, rendering it essentially dormant.

The commission had been researching the most cost-effective merger options in the state.