A collection of students and residents from the nearby area gathered at Ramapo College this past Tuesday, listening intently as the former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, a Democratic candidate for Congress, spoke about his beginnings in public service and his platform for his campaign.
Josh Gottheimer, a moderate Democrat, is running in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, or CD. Congressman Scott Garrett, a staunch Tea Party conservative and current representative for the 5th CD, has garnered much criticism from an incident where he reportedly refused to contribute to a Republican group that backed gay candidates. Congressman Garret has been labeled in Washington as the “most vulnerable incumbent,” according to NJ.com, and in comparison to Gottheimer, has been outraised.
Gottheimer is currently one of the top 5 fundraisers in the country, and has raised over $1 million. He has risen more than any other challenger from the past. He has worked to communicate why a youthful and convicted vision is necessary to change the tide of Washington politics.
The event this past Tuesday allowed students and residents to engage with Gottheimer on a personal level. Through healthy discussion, Gottheimer provided the context of his political upbringing and experience in both public and private life.
“As someone who does not self-identify with a set party, I felt that Josh presented himself effectively at the informal meet and greet,” Christian Ocampo, junior, said. “I tend to vote for whoever represents my personal contentions and beliefs on government. As a candidate, Josh had struck a chord with me about student debt and the need to invest in our future because my generation, the millennials, are the ones that will lay the building blocks for the next generation. I would vote for him come the next election.”
Close to home, Gottheimer explored numerous issues that the local community faces, such as the costs of higher education and student loan debts. As a lifelong resident of the state, and current resident of Wyckoff, Gottheimer related with students on the issue of student debt. Gottheimer and his wife were both fortunate enough to pursue post-bachelor degrees, attending Harvard Law School, but both have been saddled with huge amounts of debt that the couple are still paying off.
Attacking this large and perennial issue is a difficult task, but students described Gottheimer’s ability to dissect and counter the current system for college loans as “articulate, convincing and distinct.”
Talking to the students, Gottheimer said, “you are the future of this nation, and it is our duty as citizens to invest into your education.”