April looks to be a very busy month for State Sen. Robert Singer. Not only does he plan to end the month by moving into a new district office on the border of Lakewood and Howell, he started it as a member of the Jersey to Jerusalem Delegation with Gov. Chris Christie to Israel.
Singer said that while he has been to Israel several times, the recent trip was his first in an official capacity. "He had asked me to go knowing I'd been to Israel six or seven times before," he said.
In the past the longtime senator said he has worked with Middle East country on topics like biotechnology and higher education, two of the focus areas of Christie's trip.
While Israel and New Jersey are geographically separate, Singer said economically they are very much tied together and this trip was designed to strengthen those ties. He said there are currently 60 Israeli companies that operate in New Jersey, calling them a "large trading partner."
"Technology is something they're exporting at a very high rate. We want to be the recipient of that since a lot of their technology is geared to the pharmaceutical industry," Singer said. "It fits right in with the strength of New Jersey."
One of the more memorable parts of the trip for Singer was a trip to the Better Place Electric Car Company. Using the latest technology the company has developed a vehicle that can travel 120 kilometers without needing a charge.
In a country where Singer said gas costs $11 a gallon, that kind of innovation can go a long way in helping people's wallets. "That's a unique aspect of things when we're looking at how to solve the gas crunch in this country," he said. "When you talk about saving 25 percent of your gas bill that's a huge amount of money."
Not all of Singer's interaction with Israel has been for such a positive reasons. His last trip there was almost nine years ago when his daughter Sarri was injured in a bus bombing. With this trip happening under better circumstances Singer said he felt "comfortable" travelling the country with the governor.
Not only did the trip provide him with a chance to get to know the governor better, Singer also got to interact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres
Even a seasoned veteran like Singer said it was hard to not get star struck around such well-known personalities. "It was exciting," he said. "I'm meeting people that we read about, we see in the news and getting to shake their hand and talk to them, to have the opportunity to do that is always exciting."
For as excited as he was to meet people halfway across the world, Singer said the feeling was mutual for people over there meeting Christie. "We went to the Wailing Wall and every tourist knew who we were," he said of the delegation lead by the governor. "When he travels around the world people do notice him."
During the trip the governor signed three trade agreements with different Israeli companies and, Singer said, laid the foundation for more cooperation between the two entities. "If there's a question about a company or something they want to do they can pick up the phone," he said of other Israeli companies. "He knows who to call and they know him."
Now that he has returned Singer said he can focus on representing the new district following his re-election in November. "Ocean and Monmouth County are so close its never been a big thrust," he said. "It was more difficult representing Burlington County than it was representing Monmouth because of the closeness of things," he said.
As he gets to know some of the towns that were added to his district in the last election Singer said he enjoys working with new people as well as those he has known in the past through various interactions. "The connections with Monmouth County are strong," he said. "The district is a fabulous district. I enjoy representing the shore again and I thin that the three of us really have a handle on what's going on in the district."
Singer said he believes the new office as well as the current office in Wall help him and Assemblymen Sean Kean and David Rible to work with the people they represent. "I think that accessibility is so important to everybody," he said. "People should know that if they want to come see us they can. They can see any of us in either office."
As he begins a new term in Trenton Singer said it is important to him to represent the people across the 30th District at home and in the Capitol. "Letting them know that I'm their legislator and if they want to see me, if they want to talk to me, they want to write to me and I'll respond back to them is something that's key to everything and the key to our district," he said.
The senator also said he believes his trip with the Gov. Christie can only help the residents of the district as well. "It helps our working relationship for things I would like to do in New Jersey and having that kind of entre into the governor was good."