SOMERVILLE – The parents of Amber Murad embarked on a 12-year journey to bring their whole family to the United States of America.
Her father, a military officer, envisioned a better life for his children and took the onerous, painstaking steps to legal citizenship for all of his children.
The parents came first.
Amber Murad was born here, a native of New York.
But her siblings took over a decade to finally join the retired soldier and his wife.
The path for the Murads led to Queens, and ultimately to Watchung, where Amber Murad, now a local School Board member and married mother of two young children, hears the continuing call of family and country, the values she wants to embody as a member of the Somerset County Commission.
Running on a Republican ticket with Bridgewater Councilman Michael Kirsh, Murad faces a stern first countywide test against incumbent Commissioner Director Shanel Robinson and Commissioner Sarah Sooy, both Democrats seeking to maintain control of a county they wrested from the GOP in 2019.
A strong family values candidate with a background in business administration and banking, Murad has been campaigning with Kirsh avidly since the primary, and trying to connect – in particular – with independent voters.
“I’m definitely inspired every time I knock on a door,” Murad told InsiderNJ at Republican Party headquarters in downtown Somerville. “My biggest experience in interacting with people is I can see what good leadership can do. Roads safety is close to my heart in this county. I think the least we can do for the county is making sure my husband and children are safe on the roads.”
She also is focusing considerable attention on making her case from improved government communication with a particular interest in improving the COVID-compromised lives of children.
Murad gave birth to her younger child, a girl, in January of 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. Her son had the challenge of trying to get an education virtually.
Murad felt the impact of the state’s educational policies as Governor Phil Murphy tried to stem the scourge of COVID. She objects to some of them. “We should have kept kids in schools, and used funds in a better way,” said the Republican Somerset Commission candidate. “The state has access to billions of dollars and my school district only received $200,ooo. I think that is an unfair distribution of funds.”
She acknowledged the fearsome challenges of the unknown in the time of the pandemic, but criticized Democrats in charge at all levels. “There is not enough exchange between the county and local level,” Murad said. “There was a huge gap between the county and the local levels through [the worst f the pandemic]. Nobody knew what was going on. That happens when you’re disorganized and not fit to lead, for lack of a better word.”
It is a difficult election for Murad and Kirsh, who face the hard reality of Democrats consistently beating the GOP here in Somerset during the Trump years. But the pair feel they have not only an American story to tell as running mates who are Muslim and Jewish respectively, but a uniquely Republican story, they argue, built on the priorities of country, community and family.
“When my mom passed away in 2017, it was the community that helped me get over it,” said Murad, campaigning with her son and daughter. “Being able to process the grief – things like setting up a meal train – my mother was in hospice – the community was essential for me. Letting yourself go through the process and experiencing pain, knowing it will never go away, deepens love and care and everything that comes with it; it’s what my mother was about, and it what happens when you stay in one place and know a community, and that is what I want to leave for my children, too.