Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Age of Change

The American political scene is changing and observers are wondering whether Essex County and Newark will be left behind. On February 5th of this year Barack Obama stormed through Newark and scored a significant victory in “part one” of the Democratic Primary. Even though virtually all the political power brokers were lined up against him, he prevailed and defeated the 60-year-old Hillary Clinton in Newark and the rest of Essex County. The people wanted change and they made their voices heard at the polls. If all goes well they might just elect the 47-year-old Illinois Senator as its first African American President in just a few short months. Such an act would scream “CHANGE” all around the globe.

Two years ago Newark, NJ elected 37-year-old Cory Booker as its Mayor and swept into office with him a group of mostly young councilmen and women that made an unforgettable statement of “CHANGE” in Essex County and New Jersey. Booker defeated 60-year-old Ronald L. Rice and succeeded 70-year-old Sharpe James. This is not just change, it’s generational change.

Just weeks ago in Orange, New Jersey 28-year-old Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. earned the office of mayor by defeating two incumbent council members from his parents’ generation. 68-year-old Donald Page was his closest rival. Hawkins will be succeeding 66-year-old Mims Hackett. So what does it mean to us? It looks like the age of change.

The world and our nation are taking on new challenges, which require new ideas more likely to be found in new leadership. This is not to be mistaken with change for the sake of change. This is change born of necessity and conditions that demand attention and a different approach. More and more people are growing weary of the same tired failed approach. Citizens are increasingly recognizing that incumbency and longevity don’t add up to entitlement. Communities are making choices that are in their best interests. These choices are not personal choices, they are intelligent choices.

We are faced with such a choice in “part two” of New Jersey’s Democratic Primary being held on Tuesday, June 3rd. Again the issue we face is the need for change. Do we renew a six-year contract with Senator Frank Lautenberg who will be 91-years-old when his term is over, or do we opt for substantive change that happens to be generational and offer that contract to 50-year-old Congressman Rob Andrews? What is the intelligent choice?

We have examined where each candidate stands on the issues and Congressman Andrews has developed detailed approaches to complex issues that offer results and not just promises. Senator Lautenberg seems to gloss over critical points and favors canned comments to concrete plans. Andrews seems clearly better prepared to be New Jersey’s partner for the soon-to-be new president as we move out of the Bush/Cheney era and hopefully into an Obama presidency. Reshaping America, New Jersey, Essex County and Newark will require competence, creativity, energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to rigor. Nothing less than all these components will suffice. Rob Andrews is ready and up to the task.

Is chronological age a factor? If we judge by the attack Senator Lautenberg launched against his rival (Former U.S. Senator Millicent Fenwick), the answer is yes. When Lautenberg challenged Milicent Fenwick she was 72 and he was 58. He implied that she was too old to hold the Senate seat. Now at age 85, he claims that age is not an issue. Senator Lautenberg should be judged by his own words….that would be fair.

We say that 24 years as a United States senator is a great ride. But we also believe that in the face of a better candidate who will better serve our interests, 24 years is enough. If we take Senator Lautenberg at his word when he said that 72-years-old was too old, voters have granted the Senator a generous extension. In the June 3, 2008 Democratic Primary Election the voters of Essex County and Newark should welcome the age of change.

Representative Rob Andrews is smart, considerate, experienced and ready for the future. He has a well thought out plan and the energy to pursue it. Rob Andrews has the endorsement of citizens, elected officials and newspaper organizations up and down the state. Now it’s up to us to provide voter support next Tuesday. Rob Andrews for U.S. Senate.

May 28, 2008

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