Members Work to Flip NJ Congressional District

November 2, 2016

1199SEIU NJ members are working hard to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton. And they also are active in helping to elect labor-friendly Congressional and local candidates.

A central focus is northern New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, which includes rural Warren and Sussex counties, suburban Bergen and two towns in Passaic. The district has long been held by Rep. Scott Garrett, a Tea Party favorite, who has one of the most conservative voting records in Congress. Towards that end, 1199SEIUmembers and staff took part in a rally of mostly women organizations in Paramus, NJ, Nov. 1 to ask voters to defeat Garrett and support his Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer. The marchers also urged support for Hillary Clinton.

Milly Silva, 1199SEIU Exec VP, noted at the rally that the majority of 1199ers are women who have much at stake in the elections. She said that Garrett has fought against social progress every step of the way, adding, “Scott Garrett’s abysmal record is a stain on New Jersey and an affront to millions of women, immigrants, and workers in our state.”

Also at the rally was CNA Pat Matthews of Forest Hills NH in Newark. Matthews said, “We have to beat (Donald) Trump on November 8, but we also can’t forget the local races. It angers me that people like Trump and Garrett believe that women are only effective in certain roles, when in reality we are backbone to society. For them to look down on women and the qualities that we share is very bothersome.”

Gottheimer was a speechwriter for former Pres. Bill Clinton and later a senior advisor to the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Before running for office he held executive posts at Microsoft Corporation and Ford Motors. During the last week of October at a meeting at Hackensack’s Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Gottheimer and his supporters outlined the vast differences between the two candidates. Speakers denounced Rep. Garrett for of his stances on women’s rights, civil rights, labor, social services, health care, veterans, infrastructure repair and climate change. Among the speakers was civil rights icon and Atlanta Rep. John Lewis, who Gottheimer called “a legend in our time.” Lewis spoke about the need the help end the obstruction in Congress by electing candidates like Gottheimer. He mentioned the efforts of progressive Congress members such as Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell, both of whom were in attendance. Said Lewis to Gottheimer: “Frank (Pallone) and Bill (Pascrell) need you. Hillary needs you. The district needs you and the country needs you.”

Geraldine Ballentine, a CNA at Teaneck NH and a Union delegate, lives in the 5th CD. “It’s clear to me that Rep. Garrett doesn’t represent what working people need,” Ballentine says. “I know that Gottheimer is close to the Clintons and I’m supporting Hillary and her ticket all the way.”