WESTFIELD, NJ — Between 1,500 and 2,000 people — including women, men, and children from all over Union County — participated in the Second Annual Women’s March in Westfield Saturday, according to organizers. The event was one of many women’s marches around the country.
“It was beyond all of our expectations,” Lee Schaefer, one of the organizers, said.
The marchers began in the parking lot on the south side of the train station and went to Mindowaskin Park.
Speakers included Democratic congressional candidate Lisa Mandelblatt, Westfield 20/20 co-founder Marci Bandelli, Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Jill Lazare (co-presidents of Union County Chapter of the National Organization for Women), Scott Mack of Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, Joann Boyle from the YWCA of Union County, Westfield High School senior Katie Clark and WHS Young Democrats President Colin Sumner. Readings were given by students Madeline Cortes, Mahie Panjwani, Madeline Schlitzer, Alice Schaefer, and Etta Schaefer, Riley Cortes, Sienna Pastore, Rylan Bowie and Mady Cohen.
Maddy Davis, a senior at Westfield High School, inspired the crowd by singing “Girl on Fire.”
“It’s clear. What started a year ago was not a moment — it’s a movement,” Mandelblatt, a Westfield resident who hopes to unseat Congressman Leonard Lance in the upcoming election, told the crowd.
Westfield just put a woman in the mayor’s office, she noted.
“And she just happens to be a Democrat,” Mandelblatt said. “But we’re not stopping there. We have our next biggest opportunity. This November, the midterm elections, we are going to flip the House from red to blue. And we’re going to start right here in New Jersey’s seventh congressional district.”
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, took the stage with her Union County chapter of the National Organization for Women co-president Jill Lazare.
"We are here to say that the theme of this march is power at the polls,” Mahr said. “And to tell you this — that when women vote, women win."
March Organizers Jessica Cortes, Lee Schaefer, Allison Cohen, Faye Bowie and Menka Panjwani said together in a statement, “Westfield looks great in pink. And blue. Fifteen hundred-plus of our neighbors used their voices today to show what being engaged in your community looks like. We set out to show our children what it looks like to fight for what’s important. We are grateful for the speakers that inspired us and the marchers that will carry on our mission through the year. Thank you to all who marched with us today!"
“Also we want to give a special thanks to Chief Wayman and the Westfield Police Department for such amazing support in helping to make the march run so smoothly and keeping us all safe while we marched through town,” they added.
Organizers also gave a shout out to the Department of Public Works and Lydia Kaplan, the organizer of last year’s march in Westfield.
“This time last year we knew there was a crisis. Since that time we’ve been working together to address these concerns,” Kaplan said. “The march wasn’t mine to give over but, still, I’m really so pleased that these women got the job done in a way that our community can be proud of.”