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Essex Rising co-sponsors Defending Democracy events

with NJ 11th for Change, SOMA Action, and Blue Wave NJ

August 26th is is Women’s Equality Day and Essex Rising stands behind women’s right to choose!

Think reproductive rights and abortion access are secure in New Jersey?

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Find out why, and what you can do. Register for this important discussion

New Jersey is reliably BLUE — so you’d think that Roe v. Wade wouldn’t be at risk here, and that women would have no problem accessing abortions, birth control, and other reproductive care. Unfortunately, NJ has its share of anti-choice voters, not to mention politicians (on both sides of the aisle!) who are perfectly willing to play political football with women’s health and reproductive rights. Combine that with scarcity of care providers in many parts of New Jersey, and we have a real crisis of care for women — especially poor women and women of color.

It’s time for our state legislators to prioritize ALL women’s health and freedom of choice.

Please join us on Thursday, August 26 at 7:00 pm for this Defending Democracy event: a LIVE online discussion with Phoebe Pollinger (National Council of Jewish Women/Essex), Merrill Mezzacappa (NOW-NJ), and Roxanne Sutocky (The Women’s Center, Cherry Hill). See below for more about these powerful women!



Co-sponsored by:

Phoebe Pollinger serves on the Board of NCJW/Essex and as State Policy Advocate and Co-chair of its Reproductive Rights Committee.  Chair of Roe v Wade celebratory events – “Roe at Risk”, “Roe & Religion” and “Living in the Crosshairs – Untold Stories of Anti-abortion Terrorism” and “The Information Void”, Phoebe has lobbied our state and federal legislators, written letters to the editor, presented webinars and marched and picketed on behalf of women’s health legislation and reproductive rights for over 15 years.  She is the recipient of the NCJW/Essex 2015 Hannah G. Solomon Award for Service to the Community and the recipient of the NCJW Social Change Tribute Award at the 2016 NCJW Washington Institute.

Merrill Mezzacappa received her BA from Fordham University and JD from Rutgers University School of Law. She served for 25 years as assistant prosecutor with the Sussex and Somerset County prosecutors’ offices and Chief Assistant Prosecutor in Somerset County where she supervised the sex crimes, child abuse, vehicular homicide and domestic violence units. Merrill was also the legal advisor to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program and a Special Deputy Attorney General in the State Grand Jury Investigation of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Members of the Clergy. Currently, Merrill is a member of the National Organization for Women and serves as the Reproductive Rights Task Force Chair for NOW-NJ.

Roxanne Sutocky is the Director of Community Engagement for The Women’s Centers, abortion care providers located in Cherry Hill, Atlanta, Hartford, Philadelphia and Delaware County, PA.  Roxanne is a driving force behind the Thrive NJ Coalition where she was integral in the writing of the Reproductive Freedom Act to ensure that the perspectives of both the providers and the patients were reflected.  She serves on the Coalition’s Steering Committee and chairs its Abortion Access Subcommittee. This year, Roxanne was instrumental in the passage of Connecticut’s law prohibiting deceptive and misleading advertising by ‘fake clinics’, also known as ‘crisis pregnancy centers’.  


Redistricting: What It Means for New Jersey’s Notorious Political Landscape 

SEP. 13 @ 7pm

Are you worried that you’ll get “redistricted”right out of Mikie Sherrill’s district?

Are you concerned that this year’s backroom dealings to redraw district borders will rob you of representation?

Then register for this deep-dive discussion into REDISTRICTING!

Redistricting — a process required every 10 years, after the census is completed — can either make our government more fair and representative, or it can strengthen existing politicos’ death grip on power.

Which will it be this time? How will this year’s ongoing redistricting affect YOUR representation in Trenton and in D.C.? Will you still be in the same district, or will YOU be redistricted to a different representative’s territory? Will the process give your vote MORE power to effect change, or will it make your vote less meaningful? And — most importantly — WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Nobody knows the ins and outs of this like our featured speakers:  

  • Marcia Marley of BlueWave NJ
  • Matthew Duffy from New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
  • Peter Chen from New Jersey Policy Perspective. 

Co-sponsored by:


Local Election Endorsements


Essex Rising endorses independent candidates for our Town Council. They have impressive records in finance and management. They all focused on easing our tax burden through smart development and planning. They support the principles of Essex Rising. One of our principles for local government is accountability, meaning these candidates all believe in LISTENING to the community to represent it. Most importantly, these candidates are independent, critical thinkers who will do the Town Councillor’s work of making sure that our local government is working in the interest of all people who live here. We do not need more rubber stampers on our Council. 

MONICA PERKOWSKI’s career experience in management, including public relations and budget oversight, taught her the value of listening, collaborating, and negotiating. Monica grew up in West Orange, the daughter of a Teamster, and her parents still live in their West Orange home. Having witnessed the shortfalls of our current Town Hall, Monica supports term limits and wants a permanent Town Planner to help guide strategic and environmentally sound development, reduce our tax burden, and help people age in place. Monica is actively engaged in several community organizations. 

BILL RUTHERFORD will use his financial experience to ease our tax burden through strategic decision making. He embraces Essex Rising principles, and comes from a long line of activism and community and public service. As pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, he leads “a community-focused ministry that serves thousands of people throughout Essex County,” and supports a woman’s right to choose, LGBQT rights, and the reform of marijuana laws. Raised in the Oranges, Bill and his family have lived in West Orange for 18 years, and forged strong community relationships in the area. 


For the West Orange Board of Education, Essex Rising endorses MELINDA C. HUERTA. Melinda also grew up in West Orange. She went through our West Orange school system as a Latinx student, and now is a mother of young children in our system, so she brings to bear a wealth of experience and the perspectives of an underrepresented demographic that will improve our BOE. She is eager to use her experience to help us improve our school system so that it is more inclusive, representative, and sensitive to discrimination and prejudice, particularly by enabling the voices of minority parents, while promoting fiscally responsible decisions and creative policies for the betterment of our community at large.

Federal Election Endorsements

Essex Rising again endorses MIKIE SHERRILL for U.S. Congress in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. She is facing a well-funded Republican challenger this year, and the odious Tucker Carlson has started bashing Mikie from his bully pulpit. Visit her page to see how else you can help her win again. Our allies at NJ11ForChange have many helpful election resources for CD11 (and beyond) on their Facebook page.  

Looking for other ways to take back our government from grifters and special interests?  Seizing control of the Senate is vital.
Support John Hickenlooper to beat Gardner (CO),
Support West Orange’s own Mark Kelly to beat McSally (AZ),
Support Steve Bullock to beat Daines (MT),
Support Cal Cunningham to beat Tillis (NC),
Support Jon Ossoff to beat Perdue (GA),
Support Sara Gideon to beat Collins (ME),
Support Theresa Greenfield to beat Ernst (IA),
Support Amy McGrath to beat Mitch McConnell (KY),
Support Jaime Harrison to beat Lindsay Graham (AL). 

All of these great candidates have links to donate or to get involved by phone banking or writing letters or postcards on their behalf. 

We have an epic battle on our hands to defeat Trump. There is a lot we can do from Essex County to help deliver victory for Joe Biden in swing states and to win key Senate races. Here are some great ways to get involved:

SwingLeft and VoteFwd have teamed up to send handwritten letters to strategically selected target groups; their test results show a high probability of effectively turning out a vote against Trump and winning vital Senate seats. sends “friendly, handwritten reminders from volunteers to targeted voters, giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast.

WOCAS First Ed Town Hall


There was a wonderful “Ed Town Hall” event last night hosted by WOCAS and Essex Rising! There was an informed panel of speakers and a group of concerned teachers and WO residents who were able to get questions answered and clarity on current issues. Sandra Mordecai and Laura Lab showed up about 1/4 of the way through. Changed the tone a bit, but I think they got the message. It seems they are now open to having a similar event (round table discussion, perhaps) with all of the board members!

One of the many interesting things I learned was that the WO school district gets sued regularly by people who are not satisfied with the special education provided. Our district ranks upon the top in the country for complaints about compliance. I wonder how much money they spend on these lawsuits??