To the Editor:

To my fellow CHS graduates—

Whether you graduated high school a year ago, like myself; are heading off to college for the first time this fall; or haven’t jostled for a table in the cafeteria in years, our time growing up in Chatham has been an integral factor in shaping who we are today. Staying active in local politics is imperative in ensuring that our towns continue to thrive, even though we may not be present in the community during our studies.

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This November, I implore you to take part in voting for a new representative for the 11th District of New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives. For those studying out of the area, registering for a Vote by Mail ballot is simple: fill out a form, online or on paper, and mail it to the Morris County Board of Elections as soon as possible with your school address. They will mail an actual ballot to your school that you fill out and mail back. Make sure it arrives by the end of October. You must be registered to vote in order to get a Vote by Mail ballot.

Running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is Democrat Mikie Sherrill. She is a graduate of the Naval Academy and former Navy pilot, received a law degree from Georgetown, is a former federal prosecutor, and received a master's degree in Global History from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sherrill is a pro-choice and women’s rights advocate, and a proud supporter of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, a law requiring equal pay for men and women in the workplace. Sherrill also supports universal criminal background checks for those seeking to purchase firearms.

Running against Sherrill is Republican Jay Webber, a New Jersey Assemblyman. Webber is both pro-life and anti-Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides healthcare, reproductive care, testing for STDs such as HIV, and sex education. Webber is also one of only two dissenting votes against the aforementioned Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act when the bill passed the New Jersey State Assembly. As a woman who has grown up in New Jersey and a feminist, I find it difficult to know that an elected official of my state defends my not being paid the same salary for a job as a male employee with the same credentials. I find it even more difficult to know that this Assemblyman now wants to represent my district in Congress when his values on financial equality between men and women differ so greatly from my own. Webber has also expressed an interest in joining the Freedom Caucus in D.C. if elected, a group known for protecting rigid conservative values and being obstructionist.

Voting is one of the most influential and important rights American citizens possess, and as the up-and-coming generation, it is our duty to take part in shaping the New Jersey we wish to live in. The 11th District of New Jersey is considered a toss-up, with the potential to help “flip the House” in favor of the Democrats if Sherrill is elected. This would be a sorely needed check and balance on President Donald Trump. Some local elections in past years have been decided by as few as 15 votes!

I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming year and hope that you will count yourself among the citizens of the Chathams voting for Mikie Sherrill.

Claire McGovern