I am writing to you regarding your March 1st article: “Bergen County Nightmare: LD37 Threatens to Upend the Power Structure.”
Let me say from the beginning that I am in complete disagreement with the tone and the conclusion of the article.
Both Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon M Johnson are well known to me and I consider both of them to be outstanding representatives of our district. They are both actively working to become the Democratic Party’s replacement for our legendary State Senator, Loretta Weinberg. With stellar reputations, there is no doubt that both candidates deserve the nomination. The reality is that with only one available Senate seat, only one can be selected and this is the reason for the existing political race.
Support in the district for Assemblyman Johnson is widespread and comes from a wide range of people, including myself. The article asserts that such support is due to and is created by the Party Leadership. In truth, the support for Assemblyman Gordon, coming from all walks of life, men, women, unions and the rank and file contradicts these assumptions.
Certainly, there will always be some who might endorse a particular candidate, in this case Assemblyman Johnson, by following a party leader’s suggestion. A clear mind, however, will understand that town after town, person after person, group after group cannot, and would not, act in unison unless they have a firm belief that he is the candidate that will best represent our community in the Senate, indifferent of any falsely perceived pressure.
Claiming to be a victim and fighting against the establishment may create a lot of sympathy and, in today’s environment, given the history of the persecution of women, African-Americans, Latinos, etc., some people are justified in feeling this way. For sure, this is not the case here – this is a race between an African-American and a female candidate, both members of underrepresented classes in politics.
There is also a real “Glass Ceiling” that for centuries, has kept both women and African Americans from elected offices and appointments to higher positions in politics as well as private corporations. While this Glass Ceiling has not been in any way been eliminated, we are so lucky to be in a position, thanks to Loretta Weinberg, who broke the Glass Ceiling for the last three decades, to allow these two candidates to walk in her footsteps to fill her position without having to break that “Glass Ceiling” anymore.
This primary is not about a choice between one candidate who has already crossed over to the other side of that barrier and another who hasn’t. Instead, I am reminded of what Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is the real difference. Not only is Gordon outstanding in his legislative achievements, he is also a warm, personable candidate who supports your activities, comes to the backyard barbeques and is always there to encourage you.
People in the community feel that from Assemblyman Johnson and they reciprocate in kind. That is the reason why Gordon Johnson has the support of town after town, organization after organization and person after person. That is why he should have the support of everyone here in District 37.
Vice Chair, Tenafly Democratic Municipal Committee.