While I enjoyed hearing from the Democratic candidates in NJ-10…Ron Rice, Jr., Wayne Smith, Nia Gill, and Donald Payne…they didn’t have much to say. Oh, they spoke about how qualified they are, their legislative experience, the depth of their political connections and the strength of their endorsements as though those things are going to solve the intractable problems that beset the district. Rather, here is what I wanted to hear.
NJ-10 is an urban district with a weak economic base and high unemployment. At best, our labor force is undertrained and undereducated so the prospect of finding a decent job for many of our citizens is bleak. Crime, even if the numbers are heading in the right direction, looms as a problem in many neighborhoods. Our schools fall far short of giving most of our kids even a reasonable shot at the American Dream.
This is reality in NJ-10. It is a place where local politicians manage situations rather than lead the way to something better.
I want to go to Congress not to curry favor with the political elite and pick up a few crumbs, but to put a face on a level of despair that causes many of our citizens to wake up in the morning with no reasonable expectation that the day will be any better than yesterday. I want to make my colleagues in Washington uncomfortable with the knowledge that, for many people, the system doesn’t work. And to solve our problems we need to cast aside sacred ideological cows and unchallenged assumptions so that we can reinvent cities that can meet the needs of their residents.
Send me to Washington and I will take each one of you with me.