By Denise DiStephan |
Amy Handlin, a Republican who was reelected to her District 13 Assembly seat in 2017, is not running for re-election in 2019 when her two-year term expires.
Handlin, 62, who has represented the northern Monmouth County district since 2006, retired from her teaching position at Monmouth University at the end of the spring semester and decided, after 30 years in politics, that it was also time to retire from the public sector to have more time for family, travel and new career interests.
“When I retired from Monmouth, I started re-evaluating and, after so many years of public service, it seemed to make sense to leave now so I don’t run out of energy or ideas,” Handlin said in a telephone interview. “I’ll be able to look back and reflect on a wonderful career.”
And when she reflects, she said what she’ll remember most fondly are the times she worked with residents on important causes, like the time she worked with a local group that successfully fought a Jersey Central Power and Light Company (JCP&L) proposal to build a controversial high-voltage transmission line between Aberdeen and Red Bank.
This year an administrative law judge, and then the state Board of Public Utilities, pulled the plug on the proposal residents and officials said would negatively impact public health, property values and aesthetics.
Handlin, whose district includes the five towns the line would have passed through – Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, Middletown and Red Bank – said it was the same proposal JCP&L had pushed about 30 years ago.
“It was the second time we had to fight that,” Handlin recalls. “Citizens should always speak up, speak loudly and make sure they’re heard. That’s the great gift of being an American.”
Ron Morano, a JCP&L spokesperson, said in a telephone interview the utility is not appealing the decision and had no further comment.
Now that she is retiring, Handlin said she wants to spend more time with family, including her two children, travel and pursue consulting and writing work.
Another constituent issue Handlin has been working on is the problem of scam artists who prey on senior citizens, often through phone calls. For Handlin, the fight is personal: con artists bilked her 92-year-old father-in-law of large sums of money through a series of cons before the family became aware of it.
Handlin and state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-11) introduced a bill forcing telecommunications companies to include free information about fraud and scams in public outreach already being sent to customers. If the bill becomes law, the director of the Division of Consumer Affairs will determine a warning statement to be published and contact information for other state and federal agencies will be attached.
Telecommunications companies charging customers for scam protection is “one of the things that steams me,” Handlin said. The bill would eliminate that.
Handlin, a Middletown resident, was a Monmouth County freeholder from 1990 until 2005 and on the Middletown Township Committee from 1987 to 1990. Her legislative office is in Red Bank.
Handlin earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an MBA in marketing from Columbia University and her doctorate from New York University. She was as an associate professor of marketing at Monmouth University for the past 27 years.
This article was first published in the Oct. 25 – Oct. 31, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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