To the Editor,
I am compelled to write this letter to the editor in response to recent social media posts and specifically comments about me and my role as the Chairperson of the Berkeley Heights Republican Municipal Committee (RMC).
First, a short explanation of the process for choosing local candidates. Each of the two major political parties has a Municipal Committee in Berkeley Heights. Each committee is comprised of a male and female representative from each of the town’s 11 districts – a total of 22 people on each committee. The committee is part of the larger county and state party organizations and tasked with choosing candidates each year to run for local office. They also participate in choosing county and state candidates to receive support. The RMC members actively seek out candidates and interested candidates, seeking local party support, contact the committee. The RMC meets each year, generally in mid-March, to screen candidates. Potential candidates share their experience and discuss why they are interested in running. The committee then votes on who to support.
Republican candidates receiving the support of the Republican Municipal Committee have never been “virtually hand selected” by me, as the Chair.
During the 2017 election cycle, the only candidates who sought the committee’s support to run for Town Council were two sitting council members. They were screened by the committee and we voted to support them. The two candidates, who opposed them in the Republican primary, did not seek support from the committee during the primary season. After the primary, one of the winning candidates had to step-down due to a work conflict. We notified the public and a week went by between that notification and the committee meeting to vote on the replacement. During that week, I received an email from a purported email address of the campaign of the two candidates who lost the primary. The email was unsigned and had no proof of authorship. I replied in a timely fashion, asking who had written the email and stating that if an individual wanted to be considered by the committee to fill the open seat, to please write back, identify yourself and provide contact information. I never received a reply. To say that I “ignored requests for a meeting” with these candidates is untrue. I have no idea who contacted me, but whoever they are, I responded to them.
The Social Media post went on to state the author’s opinion as to why in past election cycles “I” did not give prior incumbent candidates the line. In each case, there was a screening process and the committee voted on who to support. The post included accusations that I make decisions based on my “special interests”. This is the most egregious statement, supported with no facts. I demand the author of this statement retract it immediately. I am an electrical engineer and lawyer by training. I have worked professionally in NY/NJ/PA for the last 20+ years in Sales, for two major companies. At no time has my involvement in the Berkeley Heights Republican Municipal Committee benefited me financially.
I am proud of our town. I am proud of the work being done by the council members we have supported. I support open and productive dialogue on issues. We are always open and interested in residents that want to serve Berkeley Heights. The RMC will be screening candidates in March and welcome those interested in talking with us. Interested candidates, not their representatives, should contact me at BHRMCommittee@gmail.com to schedule a time.
Heidi Cohen, Berkeley Heights Republican Municipal Chair