By Ed Donnelly
Gov. Chris Christie knows these lyrics well, "You promised us heaven then put us through hell."
It's a variation of Bon Jovi's famous song. Christie promised us in a letter he penned to our union members he wouldn't hurt us.
"The pension agreement made with our members of our law enforcement community must be respected," he wrote in 2009. "It is a sacred trust. Nothing will change for the pensions."
After eight years of what undoubtedly will be remembered as the worst governorship in New Jersey history, is finally coming to an end.
He not only broke his election year promise by changing the rules, he almost immediately began breaking the rules he created. While many bought into his sound bites on how he tackled pension reform, his "landmark" accomplishment caused New Jersey 12 credit downgrades. He failed, and he owns those 12 credit downgrades and failed policy decisions.
The Chris Christie mantra throughout his two terms as governor has been, "Do it my way or hit the highway."
I learned, from an early age that leaders with that type of demeanor are a recipe for disaster. Instead of bringing the stakeholders to the table to solve problems and work on issues together, he chose to alienate us. In short, doing it his way has crippled New Jersey, impeded progress and limited opportunities for eight years.
Throughout his two terms as governor, Christie has vilified our members. And yes, we're angry, but we're not alone. The majority of New Jersey is angry -- just look at his 14 percent approval rating.
Now as he runs out the clock in his final term, the question becomes, "What does the Republican party have to show after his eight years at the helm?"
Politically, the Republican Party has never been in worse shape. The results of the Nov. 7 election are all the evidence one needs to see that those who blindly followed Chris Christie suffered at the polls.
I can attest that we worked in a bipartisan fashion with the Legislature on a number of common sense, good legislation only to have it vetoed when it reached Christie's desk.
His use of the veto pen reflected what he thought was best for his failed presidential campaign, not what would have put New Jersey back on track for success. Chris Christie failed New Jersey and he failed his party.
His administration started with lies. A strategy of deception followed him throughout his two terms, and his political career will end as a legacy to all that is wrong in politics.
As I write this, I, a firefighter, not only speak for the thousands of first responders in New Jersey who have been made public enemy No. 1 from this governor, I also call to mind and speak out for many others: The New Jersey school teacher who was lambasted by this governor at a campaign stop; the Navy Seal who this governor disrespected and attempted to silence at a town hall meeting; the 76-year-old female state Senator whom he threatened to "take a bat to"; and the young female voter in New Hampshire who was chastised after questioning his facts.
That's noot to mention the thousands of New Jersey residents and visitors inconvenienced and placed into harm's way by this governor's administration that chose to shut a major bridge down in New Jersey over politics (#Bridgegate).
Despite all this, New Jersey is bigger than Chris Christie.
His failed leadership and his bully platform are not what New Jersey stands for or represents. We are a diverse and welcoming State made of all kinds. We no longer have the time for the childish name calling or vilification of the those that choose to serve our communities.
Our members realize that New Jersey is proud and thankful of our Firefighters, Police Officers and EMTs who protect the front lines of our state every day. We share the pride of sending our children to public schools and are grateful for the efforts so many teachers put into making sure each and every student gets the top-class education they deserve. We appreciate the men and women working to keep our streets clean, our city halls and state buildings up and running and our roads and highways clean and safe.
The next chapter in our state's history begins in the coming days. Let's help to write a new chapter filled with transparency and big boy leadership. We need policy making that strengthens our state and moves it forward. The Firefighters, EMTs and Dispatchers I have the honor of representing deserve it. New Jersey deserves it.
Ed Donnelly is president New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.