Letter to the Editor: Do kids need to be part of the policy debate?

parsippany focus

parsippany focusDear Editor:

Legislative District 35 Senator Nellie Pou (Paterson) cause quite a stir this week related to the NJ-11 Congressional Campaign. Let’s review. Pou called into question Jay Webber’s consistent voting record against legislation to support women…

“Why Webber would not support countless pieces of legislation that would have ensured equal pay for equal work as well as equal access to healthcare is yet another sign of the grossly distorted worldview that Webber has deliberately tried to make a reality despite the truly cruel and vicious effect that his voting record and rhetoric has had on not just his four daughters but every woman throughout the state of New Jersey.”

Weber’s opponent Anthony Ghee probably summarized it best “Has our political discourse gotten so bad, that we need to drag the children of candidates into political statements about the critical issues impacting our community?” It’s a valid point. Regardless of Weber’s policy positions that might prove detrimental to their future – his kids didn’t ask to be part of this discussion. While I cannot dispute that by definition Weber’s daughters might someday become adult “women in NJ” perhaps Ms. Pou probably could have made her point better.

But I must note the particular consternation of Morris County Chair Patti Paige  in asking the campaign of Democratic front-runner Mikie Sherrill to apologize on behalf of Senator Pou. This is an odd request. If we’re going to go down the road of apology-by-political-association then I’m afraid Ms. Page has a lot of apologizing to do from the White House on down to the municipal officials in her own county. The offenses at the top level (particularly those against women) are too numerous to mention here – but I don’t remember, though I could be wrong, anyone asking her to apologize for Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll’s statement that slaves should have been thankful for being brought to America to become citizens, or Montville Councilwomen June Witty comparing Democrats to Nazi’s, or Mendham Township’s Rick Blood comparing immigrants to rabid raccoons. No – that would certainly not be fair to Ms. Page. She didn’t make those statements. And so it’s also unfair to ask Sherrill to apologize in any way for Pou.

Ms. Page does also make an interesting point about school safety – which reminded me that we all should get back to discussing real issues. Recently a group of kids – organizers for the Morristown March for Our Lives – willingly and very enthusiastically chose to become part of the political debate. They organized a march, and a candidate information session to hear each NJ-11 candidate’s views on gun control. Mr. Webber – while not being able to attend due to “scheduling conflicts” accepted a meeting from the group where they expected to ask him the same questions posed to the other candidates. Instead – they were surprised by additional attendees – a group of pro-gun-rights teens who Weber invited to encourage a debate among the students while refusing to answer any of the questions from the March for Our Lives students.

Yes – let’s stop using the kids as human shields to avoid the issues. And let’s start taking their future seriously.

Tom Wyka