Gov. Chris Christie took a walk down Park Avenue Wednesday and visited the Highlander Restaurant. At the end of the visit, Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover, a Democrat, told the governor he is officially supporting his run for a second term.
Nearly 200 people came out to see the governor, including many supporters of 2-year-old Vivian Wilson and the bill inspired by her family’s plight to obtain medical marijuana for their daughter. Vivian suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that has shown improvement with treatment of a specific strain of marijuana in other children. (Read more about the Wilsons' fight, here.)
Christie was mobbed with eager fans as he walked and shook hands, signed autographs and gladly took pictures with each person who approached him.
One resident asked the governor when he would approve legislation on same-sex marriage.
"Put it on the ballot and let everyone vote," the governor responded.
One fan thanked Christie for his work down the Shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
He continued chatting with constituents as he walked through the Highlander Restaurant and even had a moment with Brian Wilson, Vivian’s father.
“Do you believe the government should get in between doctors and their patients?” Wilson asked the governor. “Is this a nanny state?”
Christie responded to Wilson, saying he would decide on the bill by Friday and that he had not made a decision yet.
"These are complicated issues," said Christie. "I know you think it's simple. It's simple for you, it's not simple for me. I've read everything that you've put in front of me, and I'll have a decision by Friday. I wish the best for you, your daughter and your family. I'm going to do what I think is best for the people of the state, all the people of the state."
“Please don’t let my daughter die, Governor,” Wilson shouted as Christie turned away. “Please don’t let my daughter die.”
The mayor also took a moment to chat with Wilson and said he would like to sit and meet with him before giving his opinion on the bill on Christie’s desk. Christie has until Aug. 19 to sign or veto it.
Christie didn’t stop for a bite, but rather walked through the restaurant greeting customers and exited out the back. Glover then expressed his support for the governor.
“You’re a special guy,” Glover said. “You earned the right to be governor again. Like I said, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you weren’t its architect.”
“We’re getting there and we’ll be back,” Christie said. “I love Scotch Plains.”
“It’s the right time and you’re the right person for the job,” added Glover, before sending his best to Christie’s family.
Patch asked several of the folks gathered to see Christie for their thoughts on his visit and his work as governor. Here, their responses:
Marco Soorial, owner of the Highlander Restaurant: “It was exciting. We’re working hard. It was good for the town, the visit. I will be voting for him, absolutely. He’s done some good. We hear all good things about him. It was a good plan to visit Scotch Plains and support downtown Scotch Plains. “
Llewellyn Jones, Republican candidate for Scotch Plains council: “It was a pleasure to welcome Gov. Christie to Scotch Plains. During my own campaign for council I've heard from many people who are appreciative of the Governor's work on behalf of taxpayers. I, too, look forward to four more years of Gov. Christie's strong leadership standing up to the big spenders.”
Jen Cherubini, Scotch Plains: “I’m not actually a fan of Governor Christie’s, but I feel like we live literally a block away and to not come out…I mean, it’s a piece of history regardless of who the governor is, and so I brought my son out to see the governor. I don’t think I’m going to hear what I want to hear from him, though. I’m a teacher so, enough said!”
Don DeZarn and Sean O’Connor, members of the NJ Coalition for Medical Marijuana and Libertarian candidates for the state legislature: “This is the cause we’re fighting for now. Obviously, a little two-year-old, it really breaks your heart. We want to show the governor how much support there is out in the state for this bill. We need him to sign it today. This is one of our priorities, pushing this.“
Theresa Mitchell, Scotch Plains: “I like that he speaks his mind. He speaks plainly, and what he wants to get done he gets done. I might not want to be on other side of the fence, because I know he’s definitely going to accomplish what he wants, like with the whole teachers thing. He accomplished what he wanted to, but I see the teachers’ point of view also.”
Her son, Danny Mitchell: “When I’m older, I hope that there’s a party that’s neutral – not Democrat, not Republican.”
Michael Michalisin, Scotch Plains: “I was driving by and saw traffic, so we decided to stay and see him. He’s the governor of the state and it’s not too often the Governor visits Scotch Plains.”
Joe Lorenzo, State Farm Insurance, Park Avenue, Scotch Plains: “It’s an exciting day for Scotch Plains that the governor’s coming to see us. It’s nice to have him in town.”
Justin McMahon, Scotch Plains: “I saw a bunch of people, so I asked someone what was going on and they said ‘Christie’s coming.’ I thought I’d stick around and get maybe a handshake. That would be cool. It’s not every day that happens.” (Editor’s note: Justin did get his handshake!)
What do you think of Governor Christie? Did you come out to see him today? Tell us in the comments.