Hector Oseguera joins the Board of Force the Issue NJ

We are proud to welcome former congressional candidate Hector Oseguera to the board of Force the Issue NJ.  As Director of Outreach and Engagement, Oseguera will become the driving force on volunteer recruitment, donor engagement, coalition partnerships and social media strategy for the organization, utilizing the skills he learned on the campaign trail to build statewide support for developing sustainable progressive infrastructure. 

Throughout the end of 2020 – and into 2021 – we will be working with our web development team to enhance each of the current platforms on our site, including the directory, calendar and blog page. We are looking forward to announcing and launching new platforms in 2021. 

We are always looking for new talent and leadership to strengthen our organization, and rely on the generous support of volunteers and donors to support our mission.  If you would like to get involved, please visit our website to find out how!  

2020 Election Update

Like many progressives in the Garden State, we were disappointed in the results of the recently concluded primary election, and continue to feel strongly that – if not for the lack of fairness in NJ elections as exemplified by the county line – many of our endorsed candidates, like Hector Oseguera, Arati Kreibich, and and Christine Conforti might have prevailed. 

That said, progressive voters and volunteers have an awesome opportunity to make a huge impact in New Jersey and nationally in November.  Here’s what’s on the ballot: 

New Jersey Public Question 1, Marijuana Legalization Amendment 

Marijuana is the most progressive candidate on the 2020 General Election Ballot in New Jersey.  With one fell swoop, NJ voters can achieve a ground-breaking victory for personal liberty and racial justice while dealing a major blow to the drug cartels and their dedicated enablers in the law enforcement and the pseudo-scientific community. 

NJ-CAN 2020 is the coalition leading the charge for a “yes” vote, led by both the ACLU-NJ and the NACCP, among other fine organizations.   

According to the ACLU-NJ, Black New Jerseyans were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, and when you break the data down by county, the results become even more grotesque.  This disparity has only grown worse over time.  

Overall, the 37.5K arrests for marijuana (95 arrested per day!) in NJ in 2017 represents a 35% increase since 2013.  90% of those arrests are for users, not dealers! 

Beyond the criminal justice and civil liberties arguments, the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana in New Jersey would be nothing short of amazing.  Not only will legalization spark a surge of economic activity and tax revenue, but it could also save up to One BILLION Dollars over the next decade in our tax dollars currently wasted on the pointless, abusive, oppressive and racist practice of prohibition. 

Fortunately, recent polling shows tremendous support, almost up to 70% for marijuana legalization.  However – as with any progressive policy change in New Jersey – we need to continue to run through the finish line to ensure a major victory in November.  There inevitably will be a last minute “reefer madness” concern-trolling campaign from organizations like NJ-RAMP – which, incidentally was founded by Democratic candidate Amy Kennedy’s husband, Patrick.   

Force the Issue NJ strongly endorses a resounding YES vote on New Jersey Public Question #1, and encourages our supporters to help NJ-CAN 2020 and its coalition members in their advocacy. 

NJ Congressional Delegation 

New Jersey’s congressional delegation currently stands at 10 Democrats and 2 Republicans, including the odious party-switching turn-coat Jeff Van Drew.  While we certainly favored more progressive primary candidates this past summer, we strongly believe that sending a 100% Democratic delegation to Congress from New Jersey in 2020 will make a strong statement of our state’s values.   

In order to do that, we must first defend the congressional seats which progressives fought hard to win in 2018, and defend vulnerable Democrats from Trumpian conservative challengers.  We strongly encourage you to donate to and/or volunteer for the following campaigns to ensure we hold these critical seats: 

Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District – Volunteer / Donate 

Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District – Volunteer / Donate 

Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District – Volunteer / Donate 

As the cliché goes, the best defense is a good offense and there are two key opportunities for Democratic pick-ups in the Garden State this year.  While not quite our ideal candidates, we do support donating to, volunteering and voting for the following candidates to flip critical congressional seats from the “R” to “D” columns: 

Amy Kennedy in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District – Volunteer / Donate 

Stephanie Schmid in New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District – Volunteer / Donate 

It is hard to get excited about supporting Congressman Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional district or Congressman Donald Norcross in New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District.   If you happen to be voting in those districts anyway, then we suppose these Democrats are preferable to returning these seats to the Trump-crazed Republicans running against them and so it is important to hold your nose and vote for these candidates on that basis, and then take a long bath afterwards.  In terms of active support, we believe your volunteer hours and donor dollars will be much better spent on the candidates linked above. 

We otherwise support returning the remaining members of the Democratic delegation to congress, including Senator Cory Booker, and Representatives Donald Payne, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Frank Pallone, and especially New Jersey’s lone true-blue progressive superstar, Bonnie Watson-Coleman.  Each of the house candidates are running in deep, dark, blue Democratic districts, and Senator Booker should ride the top of the ticket’s coat-tails to an easy statewide win, so donations and volunteering is not likely to be necessary.  Your vote will suffice! 

Joe Biden for President / Kamala Harris for Vice President 

Finally, we do encourage a vote in New Jersey for Biden/Harris at the top of the ticket.  In a period of pandemic, racial strife and climate change, we strongly see the value of coalition voting, even as we obviously yearn for a day that coalition is led by progressives.  Biden’s plan to “Build Back Better”, when combined with a Democratic Platform that included significant input from progressive leaders represents recovery from the hideous Trump era and a first step towards a future to believe in.  

History teaches us that fascism prevails when liberal and left coalitions break-down. With Trump and his conservative and white supremacist allies threatening the very foundations of our democracy on a daily basis, it is of tremendous importance that our coalition holds fast, grows strong and delivers a strong message this November in order to thoroughly rebuke and defeat Donald Trump and the poisonous people who brought him to power. 

New Jersey Progressive Priorities

In addition to the voting, volunteering and donating described above, progressive New Jerseyans should begin to turn their focus back to critical statewide issues in advance of elections for Governor and State Legislature in 2021.   Here are a few critical issues to take action on to support progressive change in New Jersey:

Civilian Complaint Review Board

Without the independent oversight of a Civilian Complaint Review Board (“CCRB”), Police Department Internal Affairs and Prosecutors will continue to turn a blind eye to police brutality in the Garden State. In June, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (Hudson) sponsored Assembly Bill 4272 to establish a CCRB in every municipality. But this past August, the New Jersey Supreme Court weakened Newark’s landmark CCRB citing a lack of legal authority for subpoena and concurrent investigative powers. This in turn has galvanized activists, organizers, and legislators to work on amending McKnight’s proposed bill in order to provide municipalities with the necessary legal authority to establish strong and effective CCRBs. Make sure to track the bill and contact your local representative to show your support for this bill as it makes its way through the Assembly! 

Law Enforcement Transparency

NJ Law Enforcement has also had some success pushing back against Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s efforts to make state police disciplinary records publicly available.  State Senator Loretta Weinberg has sponsored Senate Bill 2656 to make law enforcement records available for release under the state’s open public records laws.  The Innocence Project has created a petition and an easy way to contact your lawmakers in support of this legislation.  

Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

You may remember that the LetsDrive NJ Coalition won a huge victory for our immigrant neighbors in 2019 by pushing a law that allowed undocumented residents to obtain a legal driver’s license.  Unfortunately, now that the Motor Vehicle Commission is drafting regulations around the new law, they seem intent on erecting intimidating barriers to prevent immigrants from accessing their licenses.  Please join LetsDrive NJ in submitting public comments to the MVC to ensure that our undocumented neighbors will be able to obtain their licenses with a reasonable and fair amount of documentation to ensure all of our security.