WOODLAND PARK, NJ - After forming an exploratory committee earlier this year, Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark has decided not to run for Congress.
At an afternoon press conference at Dowling Gardens, he announced the news, and formally endorsed Mikie Sherrill of Montclair.
"After much consideration and in light of recent events, I have over the last couple of days drawn the conclusion that the work here in Woodland Park that myself and the council are doing each and every day is unfinished," he said. "I have also made the consideration that the time it would take to run a full fledged Congressional campaign would take me away from my family to an extent that I was not yet prepared to make."
Woodland Park is one of the communities in the 11th District that is currently represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen, who has been in office for 22 years.
According to Kazmark, Frelinghuysen has time and again chosen his party over his constituents. Each time has to make a hard decision, he said, Frelinghuysen sides with Paul Ryan rather than do what is best interest of his constituents.
Over the last few months, Kazmark said he has visited every town in the 11th District - from Sparta to Livingston - meeting with local officials and residents.
"It's an experience I'll always value," he said, adding that he "made relationships along the way that I believe will last a lifetime."
During his travels, Kazmark said that "without question" Sherrill stood out to him.
"This may be her first run for elected office but her record speaks for itself," he said. "I have no doubt she will be the next congresswoman representing us in the 11th District."
Sherrill is a 1994 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and spent 10 years as a U.S. Navy pilot. After her service she earned a degree from Georgetown University. She worked in private practice and eventually joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, where she prosecuted federal cases and advised law enforcement on investigations.
She and her husband Jason live in Montclair and have four children: ages 11, 10, 7 and 5.
The 11th Congressional District consists of:
Passaic County: Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne and Woodland Park
Essex County: Bloomfield (part; also 10th), Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Montclair (part; also 10th), North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell, West Orange (part; also 10th)
Sussex County:Byram Township, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta Township and Stanhope
Morris County: Boonton Town, Boonton Township, Butler, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Denville, East Hanover, Florham Park, Hanover, Harding, Jefferson Township, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Madison, Mendham Borough, Mendham Township, Montville, Morris Plains, Morris Township, Morristown Town, Mountain Lakes, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Pequannock, Randolph Township, Riverdale, Rockaway Borough, Rockaway Township and Victory Gardens.