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Christie touts successes at NAACP state conference

Glenn Townes | 10/20/2014, 10:18 a.m.
Gov. Chris Christie wants to build a new bridge in New Jersey—between his administration and African Americans across the Garden ...
Governor Chris Christie gives the Keynote Address at the NAACP New Jersey State Convention Membership Luncheon in Parsippany, N.J. on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

Gov. Chris Christie wants to build a new bridge in New Jersey—between his administration and African Americans across the Garden State. In an effort to foster sour relations between the two, the Republican governor recently addressed an overflow crowd at hundreds of delegates at the NAACP New Jersey State Conference in Parsippany.

More than 400 civil rights leaders from across New Jersey converged at the annual state event of the nation's oldest civil rights organization to hear what the outspoken governor had to say. During his 30 minute address, Christie, 52, said his support for policies like bail reform, education reform, additional resources for drug addiction treatment and ending the widespread practice of mandating job applicants to list their criminal background—have brought New Jersey back on track and “a model state for the nation.” He added, “We are showing other states that sometimes to create real change, you've got to go all in and show a little Jersey attitude.” Richard T. Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conferences said Christie's visit was “long overdue and welcomed by the organization.”

However, Christie’s visit and keynote address was not welcomed by other New Jersey chapter members. For example, Camden County delegate Colandus Francis said he was unaware that Christie was slated to be the keynote speaker. In a published report Francis said, “If I'd known {ahead of buying tickets that Christie was the speaker} I wouldn't of come.” And Newark chapter president Deborah Gregory slammed Christie for avoiding, “any type of dialogue,” with the NAACP. She called the governor's visit nothing more than “a dog and pony show.” Gregory is a former educator and has been a vocal critic of Christie since he became governor.