Christie town hall draws ovations inside, protests outside

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was met by cheers inside his town-hall meeting Tuesday. Outside, roughly a dozen protesters targeted issues ranging from the response to Superstorm Sandy to recent political scandals.

“Listen, I’d like to thank you, Governor, because it takes a tough man to come in and do this as many times as you ​have ​and do​ne​ it as well as you have,” one Berkeley Township resident told Christie, who was hosting his 112th town hall since taking office.

The event was held in Berkeley Township, where Christie carried 77 percent of the vote in his November re-election. Its mayor and its seven-member council are registered Republicans.

In his remarks, Christie continued to blame the federal government for Superstorm Sandy rebuilding delays, particularly regarding flood insurance claims.

“In my view, the federal government needs to be out of the flood insurance business,” said Christie, to cheers from the crowd. “This is why you should be scared of government getting bigger and bigger.”

Outside, more than a dozen protesters questioned Christie’s Sandy response; some carried signs calling for his resignation.

“I have too many friends, family that can’t get home,” said Ellen Vidal, a social worker in Ocean County. “Restoring the Shore has taken far too long. It didn’t need to take this long.”

Other protesters sought the resignation of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman David Samson, due to his alleged involvement in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

“Samson has been at the center of Bridgegate,” said Robert Duffey, a member of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a left-leaning coalition of consumer, environmental and labor groups. “There have been at least four different instances where he has used his position as chairman of the Port Authority to advance his own law firm’s clients’ business interests.”

On Monday, NJWFA filed an ethics complaint towards Samson, alleging that he has leveraged his position with the Port Authority for personal economic gain. It will now be reviewed by the State Ethics Commission.

Christie “strongly and firmly” reiterated his support for his Port Authority chairman in a recent radio interview.

“The sort of allegations we’ve made are everything wrong with New Jersey politics,” said Duffey.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal