CAPE MAY COUNTY PROGRESSIVES SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF LAWSUIT TO SAVE
COUNTY COMMITTEE ELECTIONS: THIS IS A FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
This week, legal action was filed to protect our County Committee elections from being arbitrarily cancelled in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. There is a shameful effort underway by party leaders around the state to exploit the coronavirus pandemic by shutting down elections.
These establishment party leaders are fully aware of the statewide grassroots movement to get progressive candidates elected to all levels of government — and those party leaders are willing to subvert democracy in order to stop it.
Cape May Democratic Chairman Brendan Sciarra announced that he was postponing our County Committee elections for a full year, effectively extending all current terms and preventing incumbents from answering to their constituents. Chairman Micheal Suleiman did the same in Atlantic County. Other county chairs followed suit, and some were even bold enough to put off elections for two years. With extensive safety measures put into place, including online petitions and drop boxes, and considering that all other elections are moving forward (including the Republican County Committee elections!), there is no justifiable reason to cancel our own Committee elections. Elections are an essential service—the bedrock of our democracy—and we simply cannot allow party leaders to start cancelling them.
The enthusiasm in Cape May County for participating in local government is at an all-time high. We successfully organized a team of 20 progressive Democrats, who filed to run for County Committee. It is unconscionable that party leadership would go to such lengths to squelch this enthusiasm and shut these voices out. Instead, party leadership should be thrilled that people want to get involved and help build the party. But the truth is that due to the stranglehold the George Norcross-led South Jersey Democratic establishment has on our political process, progressives and grassroots activists have been intentionally shut out of the process for a long time.
This is why the elections are so important to us, and this is exactly why it was necessary to file legal action to protect them. We are fighting for our right to have a say in our own party.
We demand to be properly represented, and to have a stake in the important decisions that are being made on our behalf. The County Committee, and the party, must be inclusive of all Democratic voices. Diversity and inclusivity are core Democratic values, and we need to uphold them in our democracy.
We believe in strengthening our democracy by putting the power back into the hands of the people. We believe in abolishing the “party line” and having free and fair elections. We believe that voters should be able to choose candidates for themselves, instead of having candidates chosen for them. We believe in making our democratic process more transparent and accessible to all. We believe in bringing everybody into this movement and building the party up together. We are not going anywhere. We will continue this fight because New Jersey voters deserve a true democracy—and democracy is worth fighting for.
Written by Cassandra Gatelein and co-signed by progressive Democrats running for Cape May County Democratic Committee, and supporting local progressive groups:
Susanna Masterson Show
Debi de la Cretaz
David Todd McCarty
Melissa Morgan O’Donnell
Cooper River Indivisible
Cape May County Indivisible
Atlantic County Indivisible
NJ CD2 Progressive Democrats
Cassandra Gatelein is Co-Chair of Cape May County Indivisible and Regional Organizer for
Cooper River Indivisible.