The Intersecting Political and Environmental Landscapes in CD11

Sherrill receives her environmental award.

MORRIS TWP. – It was a bit cool, but not cold, so the setting Monday afternoon was just about perfect for a celebration of environmental achievement alongside Kitchell Pond.

And the star of the show was Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who was honored for her vote in Congress to reauthorize funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Created in the 1960s, the fund has helped create and refurbish such attractions as Sandy Hook State Park and Liberty State Park in addition to many Morris County parks, including the Frelinghuysen Arboretum and the Loantaka Brook Reservation, the setting for Monday’s event.

Sherrill in brief remarks stressed that what broadly is called environmentalism means not just combating climate change on the national level, but supporting and maintaining open space. She was in a good location to talk about that. The 18,000-plus acre Morris County park system is seen by many as the best in the state.

On hand for the event were representatives of many conservation groups and local officials from both sides of the aisle.

Politics is always present and events such as these – as non-political as they officially are – help raise a representative’s visibility and profile.

That’s important when you consider that Sherrill is the first Democrat in more than 30 years to represent parts of Morris County in Congress. Already, many Democrats see her as a good bet to seek higher office.

Of course, there’s the little matter of reelection to Congress before any of that happens.

Republican Larry Casha, a lawyer from Kinnelon, is officially in the race. And Jerry Langer, a businessman from Montville, has formed the perfunctory “exploratory committee” to consider getting in.

The GOP candidate who emerges must realize that the landscape in the 11th District seems to be changing by the day. There are now just about 2,000 more registered Republicans in the district than Democrats. Just last spring, the GOP advantage was 4,000 and two years ago, it was around 11,000, according to the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office.

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