Essex Rising

Essex Rising endorses Brian Rock for West Orange Board of Education

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:

Essex Rising Victories between Inauguration Day 2016 and Inauguration Day, 2020

With the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris we celebrate the culmination of a dedicated struggle that began four torturous years ago. The 2016 presidential election result inspired a West Orange neighborhood Unity March. We came together as a community to signal our opposition to the Republic Party’s racist, sexist, and homophobic propaganda and Republicans’ radical rightwing agenda. Out of our unity, Essex Rising was formed, with clear democratic principles and progressive social goals. Realizing that politics begins at home, we resolved to work for change from the grassroots upward, within our town, our county, our congressional district, and our state, en route to the White House, to ensure that those who represent us truly do represent the people who elected them. Now is a wonderful moment to reflect on our many victories during the last four years, won with progressive partner organizations.

We engaged in the primary process to replace Governor Chris Christie and Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, both sycophantic Republicans and entrenched servants of the elite in New JerseyMany people thought it was impossible for a Democrat to win New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, but we were able to help Mikie Sherrill win that seat in 2018 with strong support within Essex County. And, in November 2020, Mikie Sherrill not only won reelection but also turned Morris County Democratic!

Mikie Sherrill
Congresswoman, NJ II, 201
9, and 2021

Since Governor Murphy’s election in 2017, he has been implementing a progressive agenda in New Jersey, and has done a great job leading our state through the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the more local level, Essex Rising Steering Committee member Cindy Matute-Brown won election to the West Orange Town Council in 2018, surprising many in the political establishment (but not us!). Today, Councilwoman Matute-Brown is the President of the Town Council.

Cindy Matute-Brown
Councilwoman, West Orange, 2019
Council President, West Orange, 2021

Terry Trigg-Scales
Board of Education, West Orange, 2018 
President, Board of Education, WO, 2021

In addition, Essex Rising backed Terry Trigg-Scales for Board of Education in 2018, and Jennifer Tunnicliffe in 2019; both won, and today they are the Board President and Vice President.

Jennifer Tunnicliffe
Board of Education, West Orange, 2019
Vice President, BOE, W0, 202

The West Orange Municipal Democratic Committee is today chaired by Abdur Yasin, who surprised many when he won election to that position.

Abdur Yasin
WO Municipal Democratic Committee, 2018

Bill Rutherford
Councilman, West Orange, 2021

In 2020, Essex Rising endorsed, worked for, and then celebrated the November election of both Bill Rutherford to the West Orange Town Council and Melinda Huerta to the Board of Education, further surprising many and proving once again that when we all get involved and insist on representatives who will support our progressive agenda, we win. 

Melinda Huerta
Board of Education, West Orange, 2021

We have now defeated the worst president in modern American history. In this last year almost as many Americans died of a largely preventable disease as were killed during World War II. Among his 30,000+ lies, the former President’s most deadly were about COVID-19, but the most dangerous were his attempts to discredit the 2020 election, used to provoke an insurrection against our democracy. The attempted coup failed, but many in this country continue to believe the white supremacist propaganda that seeks to disenfrancise citizens of this country and to perpetuate the institutional racism that has plagued this country since its founding.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, 2021 

Many Essex Rising members worked hard to contribute to the victories for the two new Georgia Senators—the first African American and the first Jewish Senator from that state—who became the key to Democrat control of the legislative agenda in the Biden presidency. In Georgia, the leadership of Stacey Abrams and the grassroots work of Georgia organizers, particularly to deliver African-American voter turnout, have shown the way toward taking traditionally southern, Republican states, and this has many lessons for us in Essex County as well, as we think about local entrenched power structures.

Senators John Ossof and Raphael Warnock, 2021

The last few years have shown us that our democracy does not function very well; it needs much work to improve it, and to guard it. Looking back at the last four years, we have proven that our commitment to that work will lead to success. We are proud of those who have chosen to run for public office and of those who have organized local discussions of difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, topics. All of this makes a difference in the way our government and our society function. We need to do this at every level, from our town to the White House.

It takes hard work and commitment to deliver democracy. But, united, we can do it. We can achieve even what many view as impossible. We have begun the process. The struggle continues with the help of our members.

If you are eager to participate in the hard and fulfilling work of organizing, leading, and promoting a progressive agenda, please contact the Steering Committee and join us as we work for progress!