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Entry Level Politician (Response to the Endorsement Editorial)

The Advocate’s Editorial Board remarked – in their column today on who they were endorsing for Council At-Large – that they were concerned about my apparent “lack of experience and command of the issues”. Excuse me while I respectfully disagree with that assessment.

Yes, the editors were polite enough to highlight my concern for the impoverished, but they seem eager to dismiss my “liberal voice”. Regardless of the reasoning behind their critique I reject any assertion that I’m somehow unfit for Council since I couldn’t wow them that afternoon. I’ve got news for everyone; I’m not in this to impress any board or some other group consisting of a handful of people. Rather, I am running because I see that you are in desperate need of an indiscriminate ear attached to a public servant who will tirelessly seek out your input and go to council every week not as a ploy to boost a political resume, but as a fierce advocate on your behalf.

I may not be fully knowledgeable about all the challenges facing this city (which wouldn’t be an issue for long, as I wouldn’t hesitate to seek guidance from anyone else in our city government), but it doesn’t take a great amount of political experience to understand that our citizens need more opportunities for progress – as they have been deprived of such increasingly for decades as our factory jobs have severely depleted and been replaced with an increase in part-time and temporary work -, that our safety forces are lacking the resources they need to serve us at their full potential – thanks, partially, to an outdated tax rate as well as a slew of cuts that have come down from the state -, that we absolutely must rectify our infrastructural problems – primarily with respect to our roads, in light of years of tax hike rejections combined with the aforementioned insufficient funds on hand -, and that the time has long passed for us to eradicate the plague of partisanship throughout our political system; starting with communities like Newark by way of amending the city’s charter in 2017. These issues, about which my understanding is clear, are affecting all of Newark irrespective of our individual political affiliation or “experience”.

Let’s, for now, just focus on the primary issue of the day: a lack of living wage jobs. For any economy – and for its accompanying governing body -, the strength thereof is dependent on a healthy loop of resources which enables the populace to escape economic despair while contributing as a consumer and a taxpayer. No matter how experienced I am in public service, in business, or what have you, every mouth understands when it is not being fed, every eyelid can be kept open by fears of freezing in the night, and every hand can clutch onto a paycheck as it is cashed to go directly to a plethora of bill collectors instead of in the bank to save up for something other than the essentials. Sure, emphasizing meaningful job creation may not be as sexy an issue as debating part-time firefighters – though the two are not completely unrelated -, but Newark’s recent experience of creating work hasn’t exactly produced the wages needed to address all of our other challenges. Where else do you think the revenue that we need is going to come from if not through an aggressive pursuit of employers willing to pay their laborers enough to comfortably raise a family? Are we satisfied with the growing number of citizens visiting our countless temp agencies or part-time gigs looking for a job? This unstable pattern is unsustainable and we would do well to turn the page on this celebration of job creation which regularly comes without taking a closer look at the details.

Measuring me based on what experience I do or do not possess is not unlike the hurdles which exist for working people throughout this country. More often than not, the requirement for prior “experience” inhibits an applicant from getting a second look by a hiring manager. Entry level work beyond temp services has almost completely vanished, and that effectively condemns many to the endless cycle of poverty. To a degree, this is kind of how one is preventing entry into politics for new faces when candidates have never run for office or served in some other capacity before. Is there no longer any room for entry level “politicians”?

Besides, since when does “experience” always equal better service? A candidate with zero experience is equally capable of using his or her skills of reasoning in assessing any issue as their heavily experienced counterparts. Arguing that my “lack of experience” restricts my ability to devote myself to the people is absurd on the same level as arguing that a rookie ball player can’t stand out among others in their performance on the field. Trust me, I am quite able to compensate for my “lack of experience and command of the issues” by entrusting in the wealth of both found in the people I hope to serve.

Do you think I would be taking time away from my children day after day in this campaign if I wasn’t confident that I could do the job? Austin and Madison are my chief inspiration for running, because it is their future that I hope to improve. They, not you or me, will have to live with the decisions we make today. If I had any doubts about my competence, you would not have to worry about me getting elected, because I wouldn’t even try to run in the first place.

Having said all of that, I want to congratulate Mr. Rath, Mr. Cost, and Mr. Bubb for securing the Advocate’s endorsement. Likewise, I want to recognize the hard work being done by Mr. Rolletta and Mr. Fraizer as they go door to door. We all love this city and are ready to serve. It’s up to you – the voter, not anyone else - to choose who you think best represents the future of this city. Thank you for your time.

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