Blog for Highland Park

Welcome to the Blog for Highland Park, a weblog chronicling events in Highland Park, NJ from an alternative perspective to the often one-sided slant of the official borough newsletter.

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Location: Highland Park, New Jersey, United States

I am a freelance writer and community activist who has worked on many progressive and Democratic political campaigns over the last 25 plus years and a lifelong resident of Highland Park, NJ. I have a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University, an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard University, and an MEd in English Education from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. An enthusiastic amateur astronomer, I have just completed Swinburne University Astronomy Online's Graduate Certificate of Science in astronomy and am pursuing a Masters of Science in astronomy at Swinburne. I am also an actress with experience in theatre and film and have written a full length play. I am currently working full time on a book "The Little Planet That Would Not Die: Pluto's Story."

Monday, July 31, 2006

Urge Venue Change for Menendez/Stender Fundraiser

The campaigns of US Senator Robert Menendez and Congressional Candidate Linda Stender are making a huge mistake in scheduling a September 17 fundraiser at the home of Mayor Meryl Frank. Under ordinary circumstances, it would make sense to hold a Democratic fundraiser at the home of a local Democratic official. What Menendez, Stender, and their staff do not realize is "ordinary circumstances" do not apply in Highland Park.

Here, in a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-1 and where Democrats have been deeply divided into factions as far back as the 1960s, the Democratic primary is usually the main election in town. Today, Democrats in Highland Park are more divided than ever. It is reasonable to say that close to fifty percent of local Democrats do not support Mayor Frank, who will almost certainly face a heavily contested primary next spring. She and her redevelopment policies continue to be highly controversial, and her administration is being investigated by the county prosecutor for misapplication of funds. Frank is clearly a divider, not a uniter.

So while almost all local Democrats are happy to support Menendez for Senate and Stender for Congress (running in a neighboring district against right wing Republican Mike Ferguson), close to half of local party members will likely feel uncomfortable in Frank's home and choose not to attend this fundraiser. Clearly siding with one Democratic faction is hardly a smart move for Menendez and Stender, who need as much support from Democrats across the board as possible to win their races.

Permitting the Highland Park Democratic Committee to hold a silent auction at the fundraiser is also a poor choice. The Democratic candidates running for Borough Council this November have no challengers. That means any money raised by the Democratic Committee will almost certainly go towards its 2007 primary campaign to re-elect Mayor Frank. Using a Democratic event geared to the general election to raise funds for one side in a primary is disingenuous, misleading, and just plain wrong.

This Highland Park fundraiser, whose purpose is to help the Democratic Party take back Congress, is scheduled for September 17. That means there is still enough time for both campaigns to change the venue and to keep the silent auction limited to efforts to win back Congress in November 2006. The best location for a fundraiser like this is a neutral location, where anyone would feel welcome and comfortable. A local restaurant or business with a large area that can accommodate the public would make the best, most ideal location.

That is why I am asking all Democrats, Menendez supporters, and Stender supporters to contact these two campaigns and request a change of venue for this fundraiser. Tell the organizers that you want to support Menendez and Stender but not at Frank's home. Emphasize how important it is to include all Democrats, not just Frank's followers, in their fundraising and get out the vote efforts. Tell them that any silent auction or auxiliary fundraiser should be limited to the 2006 effort to win back Congress and not as a means to piggyback fundraising for a Democratic primary in 2007.

You can reach the Menendez campaign at (201) 271-1661 and the Stender campaign at (908) 322-1996. Together, we can make a difference.