I can’t vote in New Jersey, but if I could, I would vote for Barbara Buono.

Since big corporations and billionaires and garden-variety millionaires have no reluctance to spread campaign cash to school board races in communities where they do not live, I have no reluctance to say that if I lived in New Jersey, I would vote for Barbara Buono.

Her first qualification is that she is not Chris Christie. Christie has divided the state, neglected its poorest communities (other than to try to privatize their public schools), and bullied people he doesn’t agree with. He disdains public schools (calling them “failure factories”) and scorns the people who work in them every day to educate the children of New Jersey. He is ignorant of the fact that the public schools of New Jersey are ranked near the very top on federal tests. He actively promotes policies that segregate and disempower people of color in New Jersey. I shudder to think of an America in which someone with the character of Chris Christie were considered a role model.

Barbara Buono was born in Newark. She was educated in the public schools of Nutley, New Jersey. She graduated from Montclair State College and Rutgers Law School. She was elected to the New Jersey State Senate in 2001 and was chosen as Majority Leader of the State Senate in 2010, the first woman ever to serve in that position. In addition to a distinguished career in New Jersey politics, Barbara and her husband Martin have six adult children.

I don’t know Barbara Buono, but she appears to be a person who understands the values of tolerance, responsibility, respect, and hard work. She exemplifies those values.

Despite her long career of service, she has been all but abandoned by the national Democratic party, which seems to want to morph into the Republican party.

Think differently. Vote for Barbara Buono and make New Jersey a state that values all its citizens. Make it once again the Garden State, where there is a place for everyone at the table and a room for everyone in the inn.