September 21, 2023

How Local Elections Strengthen Our Community

Harris Laufer State Director, Jewish Federations of New Jersey

As New Jersey and the nation get ready for the 2023 General Election on November 7, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) will spend the next few weeks making sure our community is informed on the issues at stake and, most importantly, that citizens are registered to vote! 

Linda Scherzer, JCRC Director, contributed to this article with the list below of the most critical ways our participation in local elections advances the Jewish community’s agenda. While national politics often dominate the headlines, it’s at the local level where tangible change is made. Here is why local elections matter:   

1. Ensuring Community Security

Local elections play a vital role in addressing the security needs of our Jewish communities. By electing officials who prioritize community safety, we can ensure that resources are allocated to effectively combat antisemitism, and other security concerns. Local leaders have a better understanding of the specific challenges faced by our communities, allowing them to implement comprehensive security measures, including increased police presence, enhanced surveillance systems, and educational programs to raise awareness and prevent incidents. Through these elections, we empower ourselves to create safer environments for all. 

2. Supporting Holocaust Survivors Assistance Programs

Local elections provide an opportunity to advocate for and support vital programs that assist Holocaust survivors within our communities. By electing officials who prioritize allocating funds and resources to provide financial assistance, healthcare, mental health support, and social services to survivors, we ensure that they can live their lives with dignity and receive the support they deserve.  

3. Providing Essential Human Services

Local elections enable us to elect officials who are committed to providing essential human services to our Jewish communities. These services encompass areas such as affordable housing, healthcare access, job training, food assistance, and support for vulnerable populations. By electing leaders who prioritize these services, we can ensure that members of our community, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, or background, have access to the resources they need to thrive. This commitment to human services strengthens our communities and promotes social justice. 

4. Fostering Local Partnerships

Local elections offer an opportunity to foster strong partnerships within our Jewish communities and with other local entities. By electing officials who value collaboration and inclusivity, we can build relationships with law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, interfaith organizations, and community groups. These partnerships enable us to work together to address shared concerns, promote understanding, and combat discrimination. Through local elections, we can choose leaders who prioritize building bridges and nurturing a sense of unity among diverse communities. 

By electing officials who understand and prioritize these critical issues, we can work together to create safer environments, support survivors, strengthen our communities, and promote social justice. Let us recognize the power of local elections and engage actively to shape the destiny of our communities, ensuring a brighter future where all members can thrive and feel supported.   

To hear more on this topic, join us What’s at Stake in the Garden State on Thursday, October 19 at 1 p.m. on Zoom for a conversation with leaders in the Jewish and organized labor communities moderated by Jordana Horn Gordon. Panelists include Harris Laufer; John Shea III, Director of the Committee on Political Education (COPE), New Jersey State AFL-CIO; and Michelle Bobrow, League of Women Voters.