At last night’s general meeting of the SCDC, the committee agreed that Scott Garrett is beatable, and voters in Sussex County could tip the scales to make that happen.
Sussex County Democrats hammered that point home at their monthly meeting Thursday night, when the party’s chair, Leslie Huhn, noted that polls show the race to represent New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District neck and neck, with candidates separated by 1—2 percentage points, well within the margin of error.
“This is a real race; this is the real deal,” she said. “Josh Gottheimer could be our new congressman.”
With that in mind, the county party is urging members and supporters to do everything they can between now and Election Day to Get Out the Vote (GOTV). Huhn noted that Democrats have had an open office and organized GOTV effort for some time, while Garrett’s headquarters, she said, was shuttered and black when she did a drive-by on a recent evening.
“They have fooled us for years,” she said. “They have power and they have incumbency, but they don’t have people. We have people power.”
Thus, every hour donated, every phone call, every dollar, and every knock on a door counts, and could make the difference in “getting rid of Scott Garrett, [which] is what we need to do,” Huhn said. “Sussex County really could make the difference.”
“We’re going to regret it on that Wednesday morning if we don’t have Congressman Josh Gottheimer,” noted Jordan Hirschhorn, who, with Jake Friedman, is coordinating the SCDC’s canvassing efforts.
Freeholder Candidate Michele Van Allen
In a more local race, Michele Van Allen, candidate for freeholder, also stressed that what may seem like a “small” contribution—in time or effort—can make a major impact.
“Small increments that come in are really helpful,” she said, noting the challenges of campaigning in a county where towns are spread out.
“There is so much I can do as a freeholder on the other side of the aisle,” she said, “as a Democrat (the last county Democratic freeholder was elected in 1999), as a voice for Sussex County in Trenton, and as a woman. There’s never been a woman on the Democratic side.”
Van Allen said she sees one of the major problems facing the county, and one she would majorly address, is the population exodus. For one thing, as people leave the costs of services and infrastructure remain, and have to be picked up by those residents who also remain.
“We need to keep people staying here,” she said. “Maybe more transportation. Maybe work. There’s plenty of room for technology businesses.” The county needs, she said, “incentives for young people who are taking off, or for people who can’t afford to live here anymore.
“I love living in this county,” she said, but noted that if the county’s trajectory continues, “maybe I won’t be able to afford it either.”
Van Allen also stressed the need for a strong effort to ensure a strong Democratic turnout, and specifically asked for support on Oct. 11, when she will be the only Democrat on a “Meet the Candidates” panel sponsored by the Ogdensburg Historical Society at the town’s firehouse.
Upcoming events also include a fundraising $25 champagne breakfast November 6 at the clubhouse at Walden Village Clubhouse in Hamburg, with officials from throughout the state. Right around the corner, we have a Debate Watch Party in Vernon on Monday night, hopefully to celebrate a turnaround when Donald Trump can finally be held accountable for the things that come out of his mouth.
Following the election, said vice chair Dan Chiariello, he would encourage the party to concentrate on a stronger presence at the municipal level, forming strong local clubs that can find viable candidates for town committees and expanding outreach to younger voters.