MONTVILLE, NJ – Several Democratic candidates for county and state positions attended a crowded Montville Township Democratic party meeting on Feb. 15 to share their insights with attendees.
Congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill is running in the 11th district, which includes portions of Morris, Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties.
Sherrill said she served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot and a Russian policy officer. After leaving the Navy, she went to law school and became a federal prosecutor in New Jersey.
“When I saw attacks on women, minorities, our Constitution and our federal court system, I felt compelled to serve again, so I decided to run for Congress,” she said.
She described how her grandfather had been shot down during World War II, but had been rescued, later finding a job as a welder, and raising eight children with his wife.
“That tells you about my family,” she said. “We fight hard for our country and work hard for our families. And I know you’re here tonight for the same reasons. You’re here because you’re concerned about your country, and the future of New Jersey.”
She said she learned in the Navy that the worst thing is to run a ship aground, but often, people on the bridge of the ship knew it was going to happen but didn’t say anything.
“Sometimes they were afraid, sometimes they thought someone else would say something, but for whatever reason, they put their own self interests ahead of the ship and its crew,” she said. “I think right now we have a president who is running this country aground, and I think Republican leadership in Congress is standing there, watching him do it. That’s why I decided to run. We deserve better.
“We deserve quality, affordable healthcare for each and every person. We deserve a tax plan that invests in the middle class and our economy. We deserve infrastructure planning to grow our economy now and in the future. I also think we need strong voices in Washington to talk about national security. We have under-invested in cyber-security, and we also need to talk about diplomacy and how we invest in our trans-Atlantic relationship.
“But I’m telling you this with a smile on my face because, we’ve got this. There’s something special going on in the 11th district of New Jersey.”
Mitchell Horn, who ran for county freeholder two years ago, is running for U.S. Senate.
The son of a disabled veteran and a mother with multiple sclerosis, he said he wanted to fight for the disabled.
He said he has three children with his Latina wife, and he also wishes to fight for those who are discriminated against.
He is an IT general manager and called himself a problem solver with 15 years’ experience at corporations such as Unilever and Nestlé.
“We need to think 20 and 50 years from now,” he said. “We need a long-term plan. What is our infrastructure plan? I commute from Summit and we need a new tunnel. But this isn’t about building things, this is about helping people live better lives. Black lives matter. We need to end cyber bullying. It’s a difficult thing growing up right now. I support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the [blood alcohol level] limit needs to be reduced. Our infrastructure needs to be improved.”
Horn said he supports Meals on Wheels, equal pay for women, and he feels that the U.S. should have the number one math and science scores in the world.
“I’m a fresh face with no baggage, and I’m someone with the intelligence and guts to get things done,” he said.
At the county level, the “council members” are called freeholders, and three seats will be available.
At the Democrat meeting, newcomer Rupande Mehta told attendees she is running for a position on the freeholder board. She said she came from India in 2002 because “America was an amazing place where women could do what they wanted.”
She said in the years since, “I’ve done everything I was told I couldn’t do, and everything is for my daughter.”
Mehta has a Masters in public administration. She said she wanted to do more but couldn’t because of the painful and painstaking process of getting a work visa and green card.
“Immigrants are vetted thoroughly and don’t come here for mischief – we come here to fulfill our dreams,” she said.
She said she became an American citizen last year and immediately registered to vote.
“I came here for the right to choose, and be accepted, and I got all of that, but when that got under threat, I decided to stay and fight,” she said. She called the county level a great level to make sure the things that “we’ve won and believe in can be installed and put into place.”
She said she is also working for her daughter.
“The 14th was a day of despair,” she said, referring to the Florida shooting. “What good is everything we do if we can’t protect our kids? What good is our life if we aren’t making a better tomorrow?”
She said that there are many immigrants and when they see a South Asian immigrant on the ballot, they have representation.
“I’m fighting for everything that is right, and this is just the beginning,” she said.
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