Anjali Mehrotra, President of National Organization for Women of New Jersey, and Municipal Chair of Mountainside Democratic Committee is seeking the Democratic nomination for State Assembly from Legislative District 21. The district consists of sixteen municipalities from Union, Somerset, and Morris counties.
Why I am running for State Assembly
The American Dream—words that embody my own life experience. Born and raised in India, I moved to New Jersey in search of higher education and stayed for the opportunities. Sure, my husband and I both faced challenges as immigrants and persons of color, but through optimism and persistence, we were able to carve a piece of that dream for ourselves and our daughters. In my work as an advocate and activist however, I have seen how those same opportunities continue to elude the more marginalized groups in our economy—women, especially those of color, Black and brown communities, people with disabilities and our LGBTQIA population.
In New Jersey, we must prioritize the needs of our citizens. As we recover from COVID-19, we need relief for our small businesses and jobs to grow our economy. We need to build infrastructure that is reliable—our commuters deserve a better tunnel and transit system. We need to get guns and fear out of our schools and provide an education that will enable our next generation to meet the needs of the digital economy. And above all, we need tax fairness to ensure affordability; the status quo simply cannot continue. To accomplish this, we need to balance social change with fiscal responsibility: common sense to do the right thing, but pay our bills on time, and save for a rainy day. Perhaps it is the immigrant in me, but to me it is no different from how I run my own household.
At the same time, we can do better by those that have been left behind. I came across this recently from Indian author Arundhati Roy who wrote in April, 2020,
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world.”
The world has changed drastically in the last year. The disparities we knew existed – in healthcare, in wealth and income, in food security – have been exposed and exacerbated. The events of last summer and the last couple of weeks have forced a moment of reckoning on our nation—who are we and who do we want to be? As we come out of this pandemic, instead of going back to the same old tired ways of business as usual, we can choose to imagine and create a brave new world that is better equipped to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
My opponents will want to paint me as a leftist Democrat, but it is their voting record that is out of touch with mainstream values in LD21. Cancer screenings and prenatal care for women are not controversial issues; removing the hurdles that make voting easier for New Jerseyans should not be partisan. Clean water and clean air for residents are not singularly progressive causes. Yet, under eight years of Governor Christie and since then, the incumbents have resisted all attempts to move New Jersey forward.
I believe that this is a moment that calls for courageous leaders who are willing to take bold steps to ensure that even while we meet the daily needs of our residents, we aspire to higher ideals of growth and equity for all. It calls for leaders who have the conviction to stand up for the truth and deliver results for their constituents. Leaders who are willing to look beyond partisanship, to put country, people and humanity first.
EDITOR’S NOTE: LD21 is currently served by Assemblypeople Jon Bramnick (R-21) and Nancy Munoz (R-21).