SPARTA,NJ- Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen met with the members of the Sparta Middle School Student Council on Wednesday. More than twenty students sat attentively at the tables in the media center as the congressman introduced himself and the two interns also in attendance
This led to a question about the process to become an intern. One of the interns was from Wayne Valley high school, currently a student at Catholic University. The other was from Fairfield, currently a junior at Boston University.
For most of the meeting, however, the Congressman field questions from the students.
One asked, "What do you think of the First Lady's focus on school lunches?" Frelinghuysen's reply was that while the members of congress do honor her attempt there has been conflict in the congress; an honest debate about whether it is something the government should be involved in. "I don't think that the schools need to be held responsible, but need to offer more choices."
A student new to Sparta asked if the congressman was familiar with the Fenimore Landfill issue. While it is not in his district the congressman did know about it and spoke about the issue. The student explained they had moved to Sparta because her mother was made ill by the toxins in the landfill.
Some questions were insightful and showed a high level of awareness about the geopolitical world:
Q-"What do you think about President Obama prisoner trade?" A-"It was a terrible idea. I am the Chairman of the oversight committee that should have been consulted. The soldier is considered a deserter. The Taliban gave President Obama the names of the terrorists they wanted in exchange. They may do harm to the US now. I am respectful of the president but this was terrible decision, a big mistake."
Q-"What do you think of Obamacare?" A-"In a country a wealthy as America, everyone should have access to healthcare. The question is do you grow the government to do that. How effective is the plan? I have to be concerned about the over eight hundred thousand people in New Jersey that have lost their healthcare insurance because of Obamacare; they are paying more and getting less. It is not going to be repealed so we have to work to make it better."
Q-"How will you help the middle class?" A-"People are out of work and government is standing in the way of businesses hiring. This includes requiring businesses to provide healthcare. They are not hiring or only hiring part time workers because of Obamacare increasing a lot of taxes."
Some questions were predictable:
Q- "Do you like being a congressman?" A "I love having the opportunity to represent some many different kinds of people and to visit with people and visit schools."
Q - "What is your day like?" A- "During the week I am in Washington DC beginning my day with meetings, then hearings and then having the chance to meet with constituents. On the week ends there are a lot of picnics and pancake breakfasts where I get to meet with people."
Q-"Do you want to be President?" A- "No. As a congressman, I still have a little bit of privacy. As a president there is no privacy for you or your family."
Q- "Would you support Governor Christy if he ran for President?" A- "Yes, I would."
Q-"How do you get the information to know how to vote?" A- "We pick up knowledge along the way as members of congress. We have been elected officials at local levels as well." Frelinghuysen served in the Army in Vietnam. When he returned home he served on the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, in the New Jersey assembly and has served for twenty years as a US Congressman.
Q- "Do you support legalizing marijuana?" A- "No, I do not support it. I support the use of medical marijuana for people who need it but it can do some incredibly dangerous things to you mentally and physically. "
There was additional discussion about the missing Malaysian plane, his interactions with the President, Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground.
Having spent more than double the expected time with the students, the Frelinghuysen finally ended the discussion with a presentation of a flag to Sparta Middle School Principal Doug Layman. The flag had flown over the Captial building in Washington DC. There was a bit of time for photos before the students returned to class. The congressman said they were going to stop at the Sparta diner for lunch before heading back to Morristown.
This is the second year Congressman Frelinghuysen has met with the middle school student in Sparta.