Congressman Frank Pallone was the keynote speaker today at “Preparing to Lead”, held at Princeton University, the second annual convention held by the NJ College Democrats, High School Democrats, and Young Democrats. In front of nearly 200 attendees, Pallone defended the Affordable Care Act, saying that “we [Democrats] are in the right and will not allow Republicans to take it away. Thousands of students and working-class families in New Jersey depend on the ACA for health insurance.” Indeed, in a mirror-opposite political atmosphere of 2010, Republican lawmakers such as Pallone’s colleague Leonard Lance are now facing angry crowds over potential repeal of the ACA, as Insider NJ reported earlier this week.
One student directly asked Pallone who he supports for Governor. “Murphy,” the Congressman replied, saying the front-runner is a “true progressive.” Pallone’s district includes a hefty portion of Middlesex County, which Murphy won by voice vote earlier this week.
While Pallone was the main draw, there was no shortage of other speakers. Addressing the convention were notable young Democrats from around the state, offering personal narratives and professional advice on strengthening youth participation in Democratic party politics and elections. Vin Gopal, former Chairman of the Monmouth Democrats and LD11 Senate candidate, was on hand to speak. Up-and-coming Democratic fundraiser Theo Siggelakis and Mickey Quinn, advisor to Majority Leader Greenwald, presented as well. So did Camden Freeholder Bill Moen, Jr., Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman, Young Dem’s President Marshall Spevak, High School Dem’s president Theo Grayer, Mosaic Strategies’ Geoff Borshay, and Murphy communications director Derek Roseman.
The conference wasn’t just about listening, according to the College Dems. It was also about being heard by the very elected officials they support. “Every year, New Jersey College students work to get politicians elected and work in their staff without pay,” CD President John Bingham told InsiderNJ. “This must change- we cannot be used during election time and neglected after. As college students continue to become more involved, we demand a seat at the table.”
To that end, the newly re-elected College Democrats executive committee (Bingham and Vice-President Demetrius Terry were re-elected today; Mohammed Asker elected treasurer and Anthony Rios, communications director) have plans to hold a forum for the gubernatorial candidates on higher education issues.
“College Students have not had an opportunity to hear the proposals each gubernatorial candidate has for education reform and jobs,” said Bingham. “We want an opportunity to hear each candidate out, just as each county democratic committee gets.”