Sussex County Dems form women’s caucus

Jan 23 2013 | 11:46 AM

About 30 women Democrats came together on Jan. 20 to form the Sussex County Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Led by Leslie Meyer Huhn of Sparta, who ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly in 2011, and Jamie Lombardi of Lafayette, the Caucus’s mission is to build the Democratic Party as a viable counterweight to what Huhn calls the Republicans’ “one-party monopoly” in Sussex County and to make sure the Democrats address issues that the Caucus considers to be important to women.

These include women’s health care, education, gun safety, and many others. Another mission of the Sussex County Democratic Women’s Caucus is to encourage more women to run for elective office at the local, state, and national level.

Gubernatorial candidate
The featured speaker at the meeting was State Senator Barbara Buono, Democrat of the 18th District, which includes the Metuchen area of Middlesex County. Senator Buono is the only announced Democratic candidate for Governor of New Jersey, and if she is successful in winning the party’s nomination she would challenge Governor Chris Christie in the 2013 general election.

The theme of her address was Passion, Power, Progress — the passion that women feel about the issues affecting health, education, and family, the need for women to contend for political power, and then to use that power for positive progress.

Buono's story
Buono was born in 1953 to Italian immigrant parents. Her father was a butcher and union member.

Her parents stressed hard work and a good education in her upbringing, and in spite of her father’s death while she was a student at Montclair State University, she earned a degree and went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from the Rutgers Law School at Camden.

Buono explained that in the 1970s when she was an undergraduate and law student, higher education was still affordable and that good jobs were still available so that young people could earn the money to pay back their student loans.

Today that is no longer true, she said, and a great deal of the responsibility for that she laid on the current Republican governor Chris Christie. She said, "He has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to aspiring young people in New Jersey.” She criticized Christie for policies that have “insured a sluggish economy,” and she blamed his policies for New Jersey’s being 47th out of 50 states in economic growth.

After she spoke, the newly formed Caucus voted unanimously to endorse Buono’s candidacy for Governor.

Leslie Meyer Huhn spoke with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation on strategies for organizing to put Democrats in office in Sussex County. After she spoke, the group elected her and Jamie Lombardi as co-chairwomen and elected Heather Acker as Secretary and Ilse Wolfe as Treasurer.

The organization plans to hold monthly meetings for the next six months as well as to organize a strong delegation at the Sussex County Democratic Committee (SCDC) Convention taking place in March.

SCDC Chairman Michael Busche of Sparta was thrilled to see such enthusiasm for the new organization. Busche said, “The SCDC is prepared to work in concert with the Sussex County Democratic Women’s Caucus to help build a more vibrant and active Democratic party in Sussex County.”