by Annie Lure, Special to the Hellenic News of America
BRANCHBURG, NJ— As we sip coffee at the Greek-owned Stoney Brook Grille, Hermes Expo founder and Greek emissary, Paul Kotrotsios, hearkens back to Greek-descended Michael Pappas’ 1996 campaign. He raised funds vigorously for it, as he does for the endeavors of many a Greek-American, irrespective of political affiliation but comporting with displayed civic-mindedness and dignity.
Pappas, in vying for the Republican nomination for State Senate in New Jersey’s 16th district, believes that the concerns of the residents are not restricted to the mundanity of taxes but weighted heavily toward the blurring of boundaries between private and public life. He notes that school systems are increasingly encroaching into the parental province by extending their teachings beyond the neutral math, reading, music, or physical education into charged philosophical debates. He notes that 400 elected officials to school boards throughout New Jersey have defeated incumbents to restore parents’
authority and ensure that an unmediated family tradition is transmitted to younger generations. The State Department of Education can provide funding to that effect, a prerogative that Pappas wants to leverage.
On his economic platform, he remarks that, in contrast to New Jersey, the adjoining states of Pennsylvania and Delaware do not tax retirement income, prompting an exodus of rooted New Jerseyans. Pappas wants to incentivize them to stay in the state in which their built their homes and businesses.
On his safety platform, he bemoans the rising shortage of candidates for vacancies in law enforcement, owing to a negative perception of the police. He condemns bad cops, propounding that they be held accountable, but cautions against extrapolating their hypervisibility to a radical and unwarranted defunding of the police. An assumption of the basic integrity of the police system undergirds his policy of a case-by-case handling of corrupt officers.
On his health platform, he tracks the effects of the pandemic lockdown, which include the permanent shutdown of a third of the small businesses. He questions the transparency of the two consulting firms that reviewed the state’s handling of the pandemic and its ramifications, noting that at least one, but likely both, donated to political campaigns, which renders their findings suspect. He advocates for greater independency in the form of a bipartisan commission akin to that raised in Washington D.C. to assess the 9/11 tragedy.
When asked about revitalizing dead or dying small businesses, he prioritizes adequately staffing the state agencies responsible for their needs. The licensing, permits, and certification of professionals are entailed by this mandate so that these agencies, much like their private sector counterparts, provide quality service to their customers, namely the businesses, rather than impeding their running. Pappas recalls working for an otherwise bureaucratic entity, the U.S. Small Business Administration, populated by career professionals who showed a refreshingly entrepreneurial mindset. Their rising for work daily was driven by a desire to help small businesses grow. He cites it as a model of success for the development of training programs for agencies.
Reiterating Hellenic News’ backing of Pappas, Mr. Kotrotsios enjoined the aspiring state senator to enlist American businesses, as well as to form coalitions across the political spectrum, at the 32nd Hermes Expo, scheduled to take place at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge on July 14th, 2023 on the heels of the immense success of its predecessor.