#b#Tiime for Policy Based on Evidence#/b#
Every vote matters. This past Election Day, all 80 seats in the NJ General Assembly were up for election. In the 16th Legislative District, more than 34,000 votes were cast and less than 600 votes separated all four candidates. By the time all of the provisional ballots were counted, one incumbent won. I defeated the second incumbent by 78 votes, and my running mate, Maureen Vella, came very close.
People are asking how we did it, how I am poised to become the first Democrat to ever represent the people of the 16th Legislative District. It wasn’t gerrymandering or big money from special interests. And it wasn’t “rocket science.” (Sorry, bad science pun.) It was, quite simply, a democratic (little “d”) grassroots campaign. There was no “secret weapon;” the difference was you.
We created the largest grassroots campaign organization in New Jersey. That meant we had volunteers from every town in the 16th District and from all around the state. Teachers, students, carpenters, lawyers, doctors, electricians, retirees — people from all walks of life turned out to support us. We knocked on 21,000 doors and made 78,000 phone calls. We received more than 700 contributions from individuals and we fought for every vote. Our team was tremendous, they poured everything they had (and more) into this race, and I just don’t know the words to express how profoundly grateful I am to them and to you.
Last week I was talking to a group of supporters and a woman I had never met came up to me and told me that my victory gave her hope, made her feel that her voice was heard, that her vote truly did matter. I’ve thought about that a lot since then. That’s what I’m going to do, be your voice, your representative in Trenton. There’s a lot to be done, from growing the New Jersey economy, to protecting our beautiful environment or making sure that every New Jersey student has access to the finest education system in the country. In each of these and in everything I do, I will bring an evidence-based approach to public policy.
It will be a tremendous honor to be your Assemblyman. I will work hard to make you proud.
#b#A Century Later, Reconciliation#/b#
This month Princeton witnessed a powerful example of truth and reconciliation. In connection with the 175th anniversary of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast announced that it is retiring the mortgage of $175,000 on the Paul Robeson house, righting a wrong committed over one hundred years ago.
In 1900, after serving for 21 years, the Rev. William Robeson, father of famous Princetonian Paul Robeson, was forced out of his pastorship at the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church by white members of the presbytery, causing him and his family financial and emotional hardship. Just as his son suffered for his leadership in the civil rights movement of the 20 century, the Rev. Robeson endured harsh consequences for speaking out against the discrimination experienced by Princeton’s African American community, many of whom were members of his congregation. His ouster also resulted in a significant loss in funding for Witherspoon Street Church.
The members of Not in Our Town, Princeton’s racial justice organization, whose mission is to speak truth about “everyday racism” and other forms of prejudice and discrimination and promote reconciliation with honest engagement and mutual respect, applaud the Synod, the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and Nassau Presbyterian Church for this bold move.
We implore other institutions in Princeton to follow this example, face their histories relating to African Americans, publicly admit and apologize for wrongdoings, and take whatever steps necessary to rectify past mistakes and reach racial reconciliation. Not in Our Town Princeton (www.niotprinceton.org) is a 501(c)(3) interracial, interfaith social action group committed to speaking truth about racism, prejudice, discrimination, to raising awareness of white privilege, and to seeking reconciliation, mutual respect, and open communication among diverse groups in the greater Princeton area.
Linda Oppenheim, Larry Spruill
Co-chairs, Not in Our Town
#b#Lindbergh Exhibit #/b#
Kudos to Linda Arntzenius for her superb article (U.S. 1, November 11) on the “Charles and Anne Lindbergh: Couple of the Age,” exhibit at the Morven Museum. Arntzenius’ expertly-researched in-depth article and the exhibit, highlight the Lindberghs’ courage, discipline, and ground-breaking contributions to aeronautics, along with some of their less admirable characteristics such as their fascination with the Third Reich. Exhibit photographs, documents, cigar wrappers, children’s toys, and videos all contribute to the Lindbergh story.
Memorable for me was the video of the Lindbergh’s blond, curly-haired 20-month-old son kidnapped from their home outside Hopewell and later found dead.
Exhibit managers Elizabeth Allan and Heather Smith and Morven Museum are to be congratulated for educating the public about this remarkable couple by bringing this fascinating and historically accurate exhibit to Princeton.
Nassau Street, Princeton