By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Assignment Editor
SOUTH JERSEY — Rep. Andy Kim (D-3), Republican challenger David Richter, and independent candidate Martin Weber participated in a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Burlington County on Monday night.
The debate, which was held virtually as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic, featured discussion about a number of different topics. However, the prevailing theme of the evening was support for the military.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is located in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, and Richter criticized Kim for his lack of action in preventing a proposed Veteran Affairs Health Clinic project in Ocean County from being canceled. In addition to his role as a Congressman, Kim sits in on the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Kim responded to this criticism by clarifying that the project for a new VA clinic has not yet been canceled. He vowed to hold the Trump Administration accountable for the current delay in the project, but as of now, the project is still in tact and not canceled entirely. The Congressman also criticized Weber for using this particular issue as a “political ploy,” saying that improving medical facilities for veterans is a project that requires commitment.
Meanwhile, both Richter and Weber staunchly vowed to support members of the Armed Forces if elected.
“I can guarantee you that, as the congressman for the Third District, I will make sure that the VA builds a new clinic,” Richter said. “The clinic that exists right now in Brick is outdated and is inappropriate for the veterans that use it.”
“What do I get from the military? To be honest, zero,” Weber, who served in the U.S. Army, added. “The healthcare system is so, so broke for us veterans down here, and it gets worse.”
Weber proposed that, in lieu of a new VA facility, veterans are given a special identification card to bring to their regular doctor or to the hospital. He wants the government to pay for veterans’ healthcare in order to further support them.
New Jersey’s Third Congressional District is made up of 53 towns and municipalities in Burlington and Ocean counties. According to a report from NJ Spotlight, Rep. Kim and Richter’s race to win the typically-Republican district is going to be incredibly close. At the time of publication, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report slightly favors Kim to win this year’s election.
The Congressman won his seat in the House of Representatives by defeating Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur by fewer than 4,000 votes in the 2018 midterm election. Kim’s victory helped Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.
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