Along The Boardwalk: Thoughts From This Atlantic City Independent Voter – OpEd

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I do not believe the overwhelming sweep of democrats into office is an acceptance and endorsement of all their policies. I believe it is the ongoing repudiation of the things we don’t like about politics and politicians.

Geoff Rosenberger

Geoff Rosenberger, Sean A. Thom

With this in mind, I thought I would give impressions of a recent meeting with Sean A. Thom, Democratic Candidate for LoBiondo’s seat in NJ’s 2nd congressional district.

On Wednesday, November 15th, Christian Fuscarino and the Equality Forum hosted a networking mixer at the League of Municipalities annual conference in Atlantic City. Christian Fuscarino was recently ranked by Insider New Jersey Media and News Organization 71st out of 100 most powerful people in New Jersey politics. He stated: “This wouldn’t be possible without the incredible board, staff, and members of Garden State Equality that are with me every step of the way.”

What many forget, a few years ago, this mixer hosted by the LGBT community would not have been possible. Only recently has the gay community thrown open the closet door, and we are still not welcome in many places. In fact, a majority of states still allow you to be fired for being gay.

Working the room were many politicians who now seek support from the gay community. In general, most politicians were not early supporters and jumped on the bandwagon.

Also attending was a newcomer to politics: Sean A. Thom. Sean, 32, hails from Millville, is the father of two small children, and has been a long-time supporter of gay rights, traceable to the point in time his two-years-younger brother asked him to help come out to his parents as a teenager. He is running in the Democratic Primary for Congress – for U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s seat.

Sean told me this story as an educator: While talking about the past election, his students would regularly ask, “What are you going to do?” He finally answered with an unexpected statement. “I am going to run.” So, Sean got involved to make a difference.

The presumed candidate and party-favored son will be Jeff Van Drew, from Cape May County. In my eyes, Van Drew has been involved on the state level for 15 years since his election to the assembly in 2002. To me, he is more of the same…. same people = same mess.

In Sean, I found a millennial who is passionate about many things and getting involved because of his passions. Those passions weren’t limited to politics and politicians. My impressions continued…. He embraced life and hoped others have that chance, he acknowledged the downwardly mobile middle class, and dreamed of better for his children…. at home and in school… “Who do they see daily as role models?”…. Why are we really fighting?…. We can do better than this…. We should start in places we agree…. and work toward consensus… as we fix things many of the disagreements will go away….”

I was remarking how the pounds of mailers we got before the recent election were painful in their content and a waste of money and resources, and he responded excitedly: “Lunacy, isn’t it??!!…. and we help pay for campaigns with matching funds.” That sure beats the shrug of the shoulders I get from other politicians…. including some for whom I just voted.

We talked about Congressman LoBiondo initially promising to step aside after two terms. Sean responded: “I intend to sponsor legislation ASAP introducing term limits. It only makes sense to rotate fresh people and ideas. And there are plenty of places to serve, if that is what the politician is truly trying to do.”

I have had occasion to speak with Sean several times since. Each conversation leaves me more impressed. I always speak with any politician who asks, because I don’t think I just speak for myself. I seem to hear and state things that many are afraid to say for a variety of reasons, starting with repercussions and retribution.

I discovered, Mr. Thom issued a letter to the National Democratic party calling for change. In it can be found this excerpt: “…Jeff Van Drew has shown time and time again he is not a Democrat; instead, he is a career politician who does not espouse the values of our party.”

The millennial generation all but propelled Bernie Sanders into the White House as they clamored for change – had the Democratic party listened to them, they might have a sitting president.

Further, I read recently that “74% of young Democrats think a third major party is needed, while 67% of young Republicans agree.”

Here’s what I see: Right now, the system perpetuates itself. And he’s up against the system. And the system is drowning newcomers in money before they start to swim.  I wish him luck and intend to watch this young man. Remember Sean, the most important part of leading is knowing when to follow and being capable of both. We have a new class of entitled and entrenched politicians. And a new world order of money… it seems to me most of us yearn for the old world we knew.

Let’s watch this millennial: Sean A. Thom.

(Tanzie Youngblood is also running in the Democratic primary. I have not met her and have no personal opinion to share. However, I applaud all women in politics…. we men have mucked things up!…. To my knowledge, there are no declared Republican candidates, though Atlantic City’s own Don Guardian has been approached. I look forward to meeting all candidates and writing my impressions – often times they seem to match yours.)

(Incidentally, Van Drew voted against gay marriage in 2010. In 2017 62% of America supports gay marriage.)

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