After months of speculation, Gov. Chris Christie finally put to rest rumors that he could run for president in 2012—for good.
"Now is not my time," Christie said.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Christie made the official announcement at a 1 p.m. press conference on Tuesday in Trenton after saying many times over recent weeks that he wasn't leaning toward entering the race for the Republican nod, which has yet to produce a clear-cut challenger to President Barack Obama's re-election bid.
Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo said Christie's got a lot of work to finish in the state before looking to lead America. But she said the governor has helped the borough in putting a hold on the Council of Affordable Housing and making inroads with the Department of Environmental Protection. She also said Christie still must supply towns with the tools to implement a 2-percent property tax cap.
"He's more than capable of being president of the United States," she said. "I just would like him to finish the initiatives he began on a state level. He's a very capable person. He would be successful in any position because he tells people the way it is."
Hopatcong Councilman Mike Francis said while he'd support Christie as a presidential candidate, he's glad to see the outspoken governor bowing out.
"It's a good idea for him to stay in New Jersey," Francis said. "I think he's doing a good job for us. I'd hate to lose him. ... As a governor he's given us all the tools we need within his capability to run our town better. He's working on red tape. He's working on environmental issues. I think overall approach to mangaging issues in New Jersey is a good one."
Francis said Christie won him over during Christie's in March.
"He's helped Hopatcong greatly by coming to the town hall meeting and recognizing we're here," said Francis, who said he shook Christie's hand. "He took the time to spend with us and to answer people's questions. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for that."
Meanwhile, Hopatcong resident Jim DeAngelis said Christie made a "wise decision" in not running.
"He's committed himself to New Jersey," said DeAngelis, a former Irvington police officer. "And I think anything he's done until now, if he runs, will suffer. Even if I think he'll be a pretty good candidate, I think he needs to finish up his obligations in New Jersey and maybe run next time."
But Kelly Carlon of Hopatcong said Christie, if he chose to run, could be the victim of weight discrimination.
"He's very overweight, unhealthy," said Carlon, who added she'd vote for Christie if he ran. "Who wants an unhealthy president? All of our presidents have looked, up until this point, like healthy men. ... Even though he's harsh on the teachers, what he's doing has been really good so far. I think he would make a good impact on this country."
Hopatcong environmental commission leader Jerry Scanlan said he was torn on Christie's decision.
"I feel rather mixed emotions," he said. "I'm disappointed that he won't go on to run for president, but this is great for New Jersey. I'm glad he is staying here to finish what he started and given more time, he can only help the state."
Hopatcong Council President John Young said he didn't want to comment on the decision made by Christie, who took over as governor in January 2010. Superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano couldn't be reached immediately, his office said.