Republicans face challenge for Assembly seats

Six candidates are vying for two, two-year terms in the state General Assembly.

Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Parker Space is seeking re-election to a seat he has occupied since 2013 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. His Republican running mate, Harold Wirths, was the state labor commissioner from 2010 to 2016 and is seeking his first term in the Assembly.

Democrats Kate Matteson and Gina Trish are both running for state office for the first time. Trish ran unsuccessfully for a municipal position in 2012.

Green Party of New Jersey Co-chair Aaron Hyndman is running with Kenneth Collins and both are seeking their first elected position. Collins is not actively campaigning for the seat but his name will still appear on the November ballot.


Parker Space

Age: 48

Hometown: Wantage. I have lived and worked in Wantage my entire life.

Family: I have been married for 24 years to my wife, Jill. We have three children, Hunter, 22, Lindsey, 21, Kelsey, 18. Both daughters are out of state attending college.

Education: High Point Regional High School Class of 1987

Occupation: Owner of Space Farms Zoo and Museum; Farmer; Owner of Extreme Pizza of Wantage, its first franchise in New Jersey; New Jersey state assemblyman.

Experience: I have served as an Assemblyman since 2013, serving on the Labor Committee and Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. I am a member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (a network of legislators working together in demanding full cooperation among our federal, state and local governments in eliminating all economic attractions and incentives for illegal aliens, as well as securing our borders against unlawful invasion). I am the New Jersey Angling, Hunting, and Conservation Caucus Assembly Republican co-chairman. Sussex County freeholder from 2010 to 2013. Wantage Township committeeman from 2004 to 2010 and served three years as mayor.

Are you currently serving on a council, board or committee? Yes

I have been a Wantage Township volunteer firefighter for 28 years and served as chief. I also serve as the Republican State committeeman for Sussex County since 2009 and as a Sussex County Republican committeeman. Both are elected but volunteer positions.

Campaign website: and Facebook at:

List your top 3 issues and what you would do regarding each issue.

My top three issues are property tax relief (fair school funding), government regulation and combating illegal immigration.

1) The No. 1 issue we face in New Jersey is high property taxes. I am a sponsor of what is known as the Fair School Funding Formula Constitutional Amendment which will lower the biggest part of our property tax bill which is money to fund local education.

It is a simple constitutional amendment. All of the money that comes in from the state income tax and the small sales tax dedication that goes to the Property Tax Relief Fund is divided by the number of students and that is the per pupil state aid figure that goes to each school district.

No more special funding for urban districts at the expense of Sussex, Warren and Morris counties. And because it amends the State Constitution, it removes interference from the liberal State Supreme Court.

2) We need fewer regulations on businesses in order to keep them here or try to entice others to move to New Jersey. Our state is over-regulated. I have proposed legislation to fast track permits; remove barriers to economic growth in the Highlands; to prohibit new regulations on manufacturing facilities for 10 years; and to permanently prohibit COAH fees on new businesses.

3) Everyone has heard the phrase "illegal means illegal." I support E-Verify which would keep illegal workers from taking jobs from legal residents in the State. I oppose sanctuary cities and state Democrats' plan to make New Jersey a "sanctuary state." I have also authored a tough Voter ID bill to prevent voter fraud.

What else should we know?

I am the third generation to run our family business which started in 1927 (90th anniversary this year). I am a life member of the National Rifle Association and a member of both the N.J. Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). My running mates, Steve Oroho and Hal Wirths, and I are endorsed by the NFIB Save America's Free Enterprise Trust (NFIB SAFE Trust), the NRA Political Victory Fund and N.J. Right to Life State PAC. I love to shoot, hunt and ride my motorcycle and spend time with my wife and kids.


Harold J. "Hal" Wirths

Age: 52

Hometown: Hardyston. I have been a resident of Sussex County for my entire life, having lived in Franklin, Wantage and Hardyston.

Family: I have been married to my wife, Debbie, for 31 years. We are the proud parents of two college-aged daughters, Courtney and Erin.

Education: Associate degree from Upsala College

Occupation: Self-employed investor and bank director

Experience: From 2010 to 2016, I served as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. I implemented aggressive fraud-fighting efforts, saving taxpayers over $800 million.

I served on the Economic Development Authority, State Ethics Commission, State Employment & Training Commission, and State Health Benefits Design Committee.

For nearly 20 years, I owned/managed two furniture stores. I'm an original founder of Noble Community Bank, which today is part of Highlands State Bank. I serve on the Board of Directors.

I was a Sussex County freeholder for nearly a decade. I recently finished service on New Jersey's Parole Board.

Are you currently serving on a council, board or committee? Yes

I am a Sussex County Republican Committeeman with over 30 years of service.

Campaign website: and Facebook:

List your top 3 issues and what you would do regarding each issue.

1) Property tax relief. I agree with Senator (Steven) Oroho's and Assemblyman (Parker) Space's support of the Fair School Funding Constitutional Amendment. The current school funding formula championed by Democrats needs to be scrapped and a constitutional amendment is the only way we can guarantee that liberal politicians and unelected judges don't take our school funding. The current formula takes roughly 60 percent of state education dollars and gives it to just 31 school districts; over 600 split up the rest. This is unfair to our students and taxpayers. Tax abatements and PILOTS in urban areas need to be reformed. With all the new condos and Wall Street type businesses, Jersey City cries poverty to the State. Because the City routinely hands out 30 year tax abatements to the "One Percent." Their taxable land drops and they come crying to the state for more school aid. Our taxpayers should not be subsidizing millionaires in urban areas.

2) Experienced tax cutter. Under my leadership as labor commissioner, we eliminated a $213 million federal tax hike that New Jersey employers were facing in January 2014. Due to the growing health and solvency of the Trust Fund, New Jersey employers have realized $380 million in tax relief -- the largest single unemployment tax reduction in modern New Jersey history. Parker Space and I are the only two Assembly candidates who have actually lowered or repealed a tax.

3) Fighting for conservative and Constitutional Values. I will stand up and fight against high taxes and excessive regulation and for the Second Amendment, the unborn and our unique way of life in Sussex, Warren and Morris counties. Trenton liberals need to stop meddling with us whether it is in our churches, our schools, our wallets, our land use or our gun cabinets, and let us live our lives.

What else should we know?

Being Labor Commissioner allowed me to develop relationships with legislators and staff, enabling me to hit the ground running as an Assemblyman to better assist the district.

My father, Wally Wirths, introduced me to public service. My mom enrolled me in the Big Brother Program and I became Wally's Little Brother. We were very close and later became father and son, the first such adoption in the country. It was unique because my relationship with my mom remained unchanged. Some of my fondest memories were growing up on a farm in Wantage and being able to raise my family there.


For Immediate Release                                                                             Contact:  Virginia Littell

October 13, 2017                                                                                                        973-222-2902

Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space and Assembly Candidate former Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths announced today that the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) has endorsed their candidacies in the 24th Legislative District that includes all of Sussex County, 11 towns in Warren County and Mt. Olive in Morris County.

“It is an honor to earn their endorsement,” said Oroho, who is also endorsed by the New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).  “It speaks loudly that the men and women of law enforcement are putting their trust in me and not in our liberal opponents who have marched with anti-police activists.”

Oroho, Space, and Wirths cited their opposition to Democrat proposals to make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” as well as forcing first responders to reside where they are employed and their support of pro-police legislation to totally prohibit motor vehicle ticket quotas; require police departments to issue identification cards to those who retire in good standing so, under federal law, the retiree can carry a firearm across state lines; increase penalties for home invasions; subject cop killers to the death penalty; calling for Cuba to extradite convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard; and protect the retirement of law enforcement officers without raising taxes.

“I have always been proud to stand with the men and women in blue,” said Space. “I look forward to continuing to work together with law enforcement at all levels on issues of importance to them.”

“Trenton Democrats have been bottling up common sense legislation to increase penalties for those who commit the vile crime of home invasion,” Space noted, as he is a prime sponsor of A-1067.  “The news coverage of the recent home invasion in my home town of Wantage, which led to the violent sexual assault of children, should be a wake-up call to enact harsher penalties.”

Wirths, running for the Assembly, said “I am moved by the support of the law enforcement community and the faith they have put in me.

“We all have seen the unfair attacks made by left-winged activists against our police officers,” Wirths stated. “I will be there to support them against these hostile actions by those who undermine our public safety.”

There are 33,000 members of the PBA across New Jersey.

“The last few years have been very difficult for law enforcement officers in New Jersey and around the nation.  We have been the target of attacks, both physical and political, but our members continue to proudly serve our State and communities with dedication and professionalism.  Your support [of law enforcement] has sent a message to the public and the men and women in uniform that you are willing to answer the call when we need your help,” said State PBA President Pat Colligan in letters of endorsement to each candidate. 

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Paid for by Oroho For Senate, PO Box 604, Franklin, NJ  07416; Parker Space for Assembly, PO Box 263, Sussex, NJ  07461; Wirths for Assembly, 12 Cornwall Court, Hamburg, NJ  07419;


For Immediate Release                                                                             Contact:  Virginia Littell

October 6, 2017                                                                                          973-222-2902

           Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, and Assembly Candidate Hal Wirths, current owners or previous owners of small businesses in Sussex County, were pleased today to accept the endorsement of two of the most respected political organization representing job creators, a.k.a. business owners, in New Jersey.  The three candidates are running in New Jersey's 24th Legislative District, which encompasses all of Sussex County and parts of Warren and Morris Counties.

            The New Jersey Organization for a Better State (NEW JOBS), affiliated with of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) and the National Federation of Independent Business/New Jersey’s Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust (NFIB/NJ’s SAFE Trust) endorsed the candidacies of Oroho, Space, and Wirths.

"As we try to foster a healthy business climate, it has never been more important to elect and retain pro-business candidates and legislators who understand the needs of business." said Sara Bluhm Gibson, Executive Director of NEW JOBS.

"Our endorsements are based on the willingness of each candidate to lower the cost of doing business, strengthen the business climate, and create jobs in our great state,” Gibson continued.  “We thank Steve Oroho, Parker Space, and Hal Wirths for their hard work and their commitment to the economic viability of our State."

“The upcoming election will be a pivotal day for the small businesses of New Jersey,” said Laurie Ehlbeck, NFIB State Director.  “It’s one thing to talk about small business.  It’s another thing to make the tough votes that matter to small businesses.  That is why we support Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space, and their running mate for Assembly, former Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths.  Their election is not only critical to the small-business owners in District 24, but also to protecting free enterprise across the state.”

Senator Oroho was pleased that his and his running mates’ records were acknowledged by small business owners.

“Parker, Hal, and I are honored to have the support of small business owners from Sussex, Warren and Morris Counties -- and from across New Jersey,” said Oroho.  “They recognized our hard work to make New Jersey more competitive in attracting capital investment which is the foundation for job creation.”

“Since 2011, I’ve been a primary architect of individual and business tax cuts worth $4.5 billion, which has stimulated job creation and grown state revenues.  I also prevented a property tax hike estimated at more than $550 per family, while negotiating five new tax cuts to keep income in New Jersey.  I am gratified that small business owners and their advocates have come to trust my insights on budgetary and economic development issues in my continuing fight to make our state more economically competitive and affordable.”

Assemblyman Space welcomed the support of NEW JOBS and the NFIB/NJ’s SAFE Trust.

            “The endorsements are proof positive of my great voting record, and as a member of the Assembly Labor Committee, for defending small business and free enterprise in New Jersey,” said Space.  “I voted against Democrat tax increases on small businesses in the past voting session, and during my first term worked with Commissioner Wirths to see my legislation enacted to make reforms to the Unemployment Trust Fund to save money for both employers and employees.

“We need fewer regulations on businesses in order to keep them here or trying to entice others to move to New Jersey,” Space added.  “Our State is too over-regulated. I have proposed legislation to fast track permits; remove barriers to economic growth in the Highlands; to prohibit new regulations on manufacturing facilities for 10 years; and to permanently prohibit COAH fees on new businesses.”

            Former Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths, who is Oroho’s and Space’s running mate for Assembly, was pleased to receive the endorsements as a challenger for an open Assembly seat.

            “As Labor Commissioner, I was able to accomplish the most reform against fraud, waste, and abuse and lower taxes out of any department,” Wirths said.  “I fought the bureaucratic establishment to save the Unemployment Trust Fund from bankruptcy.

“We made New Jersey a national leader in combating unemployment insurance fraud, preventing nearly $700 million in benefits fraud and recovering more than $100 million in benefits paid out improperly, Wirths stated.  “These measures will ensure that the Trust Fund remains solvent.

“We eliminated a $213 million federal tax hike that New Jersey employers were facing in January 2014.  And because of the growing health and solvency of the Trust Fund, New Jersey employers have realized $380 million in tax relief – the largest single unemployment tax reduction in New Jersey history.  I want to thank NEW JOBS and the NFIB/NJ’s SAFE Trust for recognizing my record and acknowledging that I will be hitting the ground running to make New Jersey a better place to own a business, employ our residents and fight against the liberal Democrat agenda against free enterprise.”

Paid for by Oroho For Senate, PO Box 604, Franklin, NJ  07416; Parker Space for Assembly, PO Box 263, Sussex, NJ  07461; Wirths for Assembly, 12 Cornwall Court, Hamburg, NJ  07419;

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                  For Immediate Release                             Contact:  Virginia Littell

October 3, 2017                                         973-222-2902

Today Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, and Assembly Candidate (former Labor Commissioner) Hal Wirths applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The federal legislation, H.R. 36, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ.), would protect unborn children by preventing abortions 20 weeks after conception.

 “The House of Representatives did the right thing this evening,” said Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “I believe we have a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.”

Senator Oroho is the first prime sponsor of legislation in the Senate to enact the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" in New Jersey, S-2026.

“Our humanity is closely defined by how we treat those who are most vulnerable,” Oroho continued. “The book of Proverbs tells us to ‘Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.’ It is a sad commentary that so many leaders fail to treat the unborn as such.”

Assemblyman Space is a sponsor of the Assembly version of the legislation, A-3452.

“It is about saving lives,” Space stated. “Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office say that enacting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would save around 10,000 lives each year.”

Commissioner Wirths said it is sad commentary that the United States is in the company of Red China, Vietnam, North Korea, Singapore, The Netherlands, and Canada as the only nations on Earth that still allow this barbaric practice.

“By the actions of the House today, the United States is one step closer to joining the rest of the civilized world and recognize that unborn children can feel pain,” Wirths stated.

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Paid for by Oroho For Senate, PO Box 604, Franklin, NJ  07416; Parker Space for Assembly, PO Box 263, Sussex, NJ  07461; Wirths for Assembly, 12 Cornwall Court, Hamburg, NJ  07419;

Oroho-Space-Wirths: We need a Special Legislative Session on Property Taxes!

For Immediate Release            Contact:  Virginia Littell

October 2, 2017                        973-222-2902

With major changes to the federal tax code being unveiled in Washington including the possible elimination of the federal income tax deduction on property taxes emerging as part of the tax reform package, today Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space, and Assembly Candidate Hal Wirths once again reiterated their support for a special legislative session to reform New Jersey’s high property taxes. They also announced their opposition to repealing the property tax deduction.

            “The clock is ticking,” said Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris.  “As state officials, we don’t have any direct control over what Congress and the President may do," said Oroho, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris. "As such, we are calling upon our congressional delegation to fight to preserve the property tax deduction. However, it's another wake-up call that we cannot wait on property tax reform. And as part of any special session on property taxes, school funding reform needs to be at the top of the list."

            Oroho, Space, and Wirths support legislation to call the Legislature into a special session where leaders of both parties bring bills forward for an up or down vote. The legislation is SCR-122 and ACR-65.

              “I have 68 bills that would lower the property tax burden in this State and I am proud to say that Senator Oroho and I have gotten some through, but all of them should be given the chance to be debated and voted upon immediately,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris. “The President and Congress are telling us ‘you better get off your duffs and do something now’ and all we get is silence from my liberal colleagues. The time for action is now and the time for excuses is over.”

              Hal Wirths, the former New Jersey Commissioner of Labor, said this reminds him of when he first took the job, he had an Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund that was bankrupt.

              “I didn’t wait around and check with party bosses and liberal interest groups as to how to fix the problem,” said Wirths. “I rolled up my sleeves and went to work, and now New Jersey is leading the nation when it comes to combating unemployment insurance fraud. Using common-sense approaches, we have been able to stop nearly $700 million from being taken from the Trust Fund and recovered more than $100 million from those who have collected unemployment benefits improperly. With the same work ethic and know-how that I will bring to the Assembly, we can fix this latest property tax concern.”

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Paid for by Oroho For Senate, PO Box 603, Franklin, NJ  07416; Parker Space for Assembly, PO Box 263, Sussex, NJ  07461; Wirths for Assembly, 12 Cornwall Court, Hamburg, NJ  07419;


For Immediate Release                                                 Contact:  Virginia Littell

September 29, 2017                                                      973-222-2902

Assemblyman Parker Space and Assembly candidate Hal Wirths applaud Sussex County Republican Freeholder candidate Herb Yardley for proposing to have the voters approve county borrowing.

“This would be a major fiscal reform if enacted,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren, Morris.  “It takes courage to think outside the box, and I applaud Herb for bringing this to the table.” 

“In addition to the obvious check on government spending, I support giving the voters more of an official say when it comes to deciding policy,” Space added.  “Not only am I a sponsor of similar legislation in the Assembly (A690), I am also the sponsor of an initiative and referendum proposal to give the voters a say on matters of property tax reform, campaign finance, lobbying, government ethics, and elections procedure (ACR40).  Both these measures would be taken up if we have a special session on property taxes, which Senator Oroho, Hal, and myself have been pushing (ACR65/SCR122).

Hal Wirths, the former Commissioner of Labor, said that Herb’s plan would help reign in county borrowing and reduce debt load for future generations.

“This has been working in neighboring Warren County for over four years,” said Wirths.  “By making it harder to issue new debt, their restriction on borrowing has enabled the freeholder board there to pay down past debt thus freeing up money to be used to hold the line on taxes.”

“I want to help Herb make this a reality in Sussex County,” Wirths added.  “And if elected to the Assembly, I would like to give this power to approve county borrowing to voters in all 21 counties.”

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Paid for by Parker Space for Assembly, PO Box 263, Sussex, NJ  07461; Wirths for Assembly, 12 Cornwall Court, Hamburg, NJ  07419;