Long time political organizer and pro-democracy activist Imani Oakley announced today her campaign
for New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. The seat — NJ’s only Black majority district — covers parts of Essex, Union, and Hudson counties.
The district has long been underserved by government officials and exploited by corporations, she said. In addition to having one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, NJCD10 also has significant issues with lead, soil, and air pollution from negligent industries.
“New Jersey’s 10th District deserves a Representative in Congress who isn’t afraid to take on the establishment, stand up for democracy, and fight for marginalized communities,” Oakley said. “However, despite pressing issues around health, housing, and safety, we haven’t had that.”
The district is currently represented by Rep. Donald Payne Jr. — a Congressman with one of the highest absentee rates in the House and who recently was caught coming to work in his underwear, the challenger observed.
Unlike Payne, she noted, Oakley has been an unyielding advocate for the district’s powerless for decades.
Born at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick and raised in Montclair, New Jersey by a single
working mother, her roots here run deep.
“For years, I’ve been disheartened by the rabid corruption infesting our state,” Oakley said. “From patronage, to cronyism, to New Jersey’s corrupt ballot design, I knew I had to start fighting to make a change.”
After graduating Howard law school, Oakley went on to serve as a Constituent’s Advocate in the U.S. Senate, a Deputy Chief of Staff in the State Legislature, and the Legislative Director for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. Most recently, she was the Dean of Movement Building at Movement School Campus where she helped bring courses on electoral campaign skills to progressives from marginalized backgrounds nationwide. However, Oakley is probably most well known as NJ’s preeminent opponent of the “ballot line” — a relic of the political machine that undermines democracy across the state.
Oakley’s campaign plans to focus on fighting for economic justice, racial justice, a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, workers’ rights, innovative infrastructure, demilitarization both nationwide and abroad, and of course a fair democracy for each and every one of us.