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Van Drew Talks Infrastructure, Partisanship to County Chamber

Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-2) speaks to the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce Aug. 18. Van Drew is running for reelection this fall against Democrat Tim Alexander.

By Alec Hansen

Infrastructure Highlights 

• $9.3 million – Route 9 resurfacing 

•$6.5 million – Dennis Creek bridge 

• $25 million – Cedar Swamp Creek bridge 

• $55 million – Coast Guard Training Center Cape May barracks 

• $3.4 million – Cape May Canal maintenance 

• $2.25 million – Cape May Harbor dredging 

BURLEIGH – U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) spoke to the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce Aug. 18, discussing a range of national issues. He also briefly highlighted federal infrastructure investment across the county, including $55 million secured for new barracks at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. 

The crowd included leaders from a wide swath of county businesses, organizations and institutions. 

Although he represented the district as a Democrat just three years ago,most of Van Drew’s remarks at the meeting echoed national Republican talking points.  

“This is going to be a very candid conversation today. I’m going to tell you what I think. That’s what I do when I’m in Congress, that’s what I do when I’m back in the district, it’s what I’ve always done,” Van Drew said. 

According to Van Drew, $9.3 million will be used to resurface Route 9from Wright’s Lane in Ocean View to Harbor Road in Beesley’s Point. The bridge over Dennis Creek will be replaced for $6.5 million. Thebridge over Cedar Swamp Creekwill get $25 million. 

The maintenance of the Cape May Canal will receive $3.4 million, with $2.25 million for dredgingCape May Harbor from the Coast Guard station to Schellenger Creek. Money will also be used for beach replenishments in Ocean City, Strathmere and Sea Isle City, Van Drewsaid. 

He highlighted funding for new barracks at the Coast Guard station in Cape May.  

“We want to make it impossible for that training center to ever think about leaving Cape May. One of the ways to do that is to make sure you’re keeping up the infrastructure, that they have the barracks they need. Quite frankly, they’re not appropriate now because there are many more women that are in the Coast Guard. The barracks that we have just don’t suffice,” he said. 

The $55 million will only cover the first phase of construction. 

In next year’s budget, Van Drew said he is working to secure $2 million for the North Cape May water main replacement, $2 million for the construction of hangar space at the Cape May airport and $10 million for the seawall in North Wildwood. 

After introductory remarks focused on local infrastructure, Van Drew expressed frustration at amendments added to legislation at the last minute. 

“I’ve had my own bills where they were good and everything was fine, but it comes up to the floor and the other side jams something in that I absolutely, totally disagree with…they do it to be cruel,” said Van Drew in reference to Democrats in Congress. 

He referenced a recent controversy where Congressional Republicans voted against legislation designed to help ‘burn pit’ survivors. Van Drew said it broke his heart to vote against the initial version of the law, but he believed that money would be recklessly spent and not actually provide help to veterans. An amended version of the legislation later passed with bipartisan support. 

He also complained of the privileges afforded to immigrants entering the country illegally. 

“Millions of people are coming over. We’re spending billions of dollars. They’re getting legal advice, they are getting food, they’re getting formula easier than the people here, born and bred in America. They’re getting places to live, they’re getting ground transportation,” Van Drew said. 

Van Drew also touched on international relations several times, invoking China as the greatest competition to American education and supply chain dominance.  

He defended his vote against Sweden and Finland joining NATO. He was one of just 18 members of Congress to oppose the Nordic countries’ applications to the alliance. 

“I didn’t vote for it, because do you know who’s really going to pay for that? All of us, again,” explained Van Drew. 

The congressman also touched on the new funding recently approved for the IRS, a lack of respect for police officers and curriculum that teaches elementary school students “transsexual issues.”  

During a brief question and answer period, Sarah Matthews, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Cape May County asked about housing.  

“Especially in South Jersey, we’re losing a lot of our workforce because they can’t afford to live here. So I’m wondering if there’s any conversation you can touch on about that and how that might affect all of us as business people,” Matthews asked. 

Van Drew focused his response on rising costs. “Wages are definitely not keeping pace with inflation,” he said. He praised Mayor Donahue in Middle Township for his work on affordable housing but said that he wanted the right type of housing to be constructed.  

“We don’t have the room or the type of space for high rises,” Van Drew said. 

The congressman’s annual address to the Chamber of Commerce comes as he runs for reelection this fall against Democrat Tim Alexander, a former police officer from Galloway Township. The two are slated to debate at Stockton University Oct. 19. 

Have any thoughts and/or information on this story? Email ahansen@cmcherald.com. 

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