By Chris Rotolo |
HOLMDEL – Extended political strongholds can be problematic.
Such is the stance of Felicia Stoler, a Holmdel resident who recently announced her plans to challenge incumbent Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District in the 2018 Republican primary.
“I’m a big proponent of term limits,” said Stoler, 51, who was a middle school student in Marlboro when Smith took office 38 years ago. “The power that people wield in government, and the length of which they hold it is why we seem to take one step forward and two steps back.”
Aside from Smith’s 19 terms, Stoler said she is also troubled by the fact the Rahway-born official has held a primary residence in Virginia for the entirety of his tenure in office, rather than making himself readily available to the people of the 4th District.
“It’s unfortunate that we have somebody in Congress representing our district who doesn’t live in the state and isn’t one of us in that regard,” Stoler said of Smith, who, aside from his living situation, is considered among Republicans to be a reputable official with a record of effective legislation in support of veterans affairs, victims of human trafficking and autistic children and their families, among other efforts. Smith received Monmouth County GOP support to run on the party line after a county convention last weekend.
“Rep. Smith has lived in Virginia for almost 40 years. He raised his family there. And that’s not to take away from the job he’s done, but he hasn’t had a town hall meeting with his constituency in 25 years. Availability for the people who elected you should be a required part of this job. If you’re not willing, then you’re in the wrong line of work.”
As well as entering the national political arena ahead of the June 5 election, Stoler believes that as a mother of two who has raised her family in Holmdel, and a health care professional with a private practice in Red Bank, the depth of her roots in the district are proof of her investment in the success of its future. Stoler has also dedicated her efforts to the Holmdel Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Marlboro Township Farmland, Historic, Open Space Preservation Committee, and the Marlboro Township Health & Fitness Committee, among other county and statewide councils, committees and initiatives.
Those local ties have also allowed her to gauge the public perception of our current political climate, one Stoler described as disheartening.
“I think right now, what we’re hearing from people is their frustration with politics and politicians. The people I’ve spoken to, the trust they put in political leaders is questionable at best. And they have a right to be upset, because all they’re seeing is a lot of useless bickering and fighting.”
If elected, Stoler trusts that her past experiences in the health and wellness industry, and time spent as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Kean University and Brookdale Community College will serve her well in Washington. She’ll look to be an advocate for limited government, individual liberty, state’s rights, tort reform, free markets and a strong national defense, while utilizing what she calls a “common sense” approach to such issues as immigration, mental health and substance abuse concerns, second amendment rights and our system of education.
“Some people get into politics strictly for power and to serve their own ego. I’m interested in influencing policy in a meaningful way. If it was about my ego I’d spend more time on television,” added Stoler, a nutrition and fitness expert who has appeared on Fox and Friends, as well as national broadcasts of ABC News, NBC News and CBS News.
“It’s about taking your expertise and life experiences and bringing that to the table. If our legislators had to go live by the very laws they created, I think these career politicians would find themselves running into some trouble,” she said. “A great leader should want to do the job, mentor others and make way for the next generation of leaders.”
Squabble-induced stalemates surrounding polarizing topics of conversation are an aspect of Washington politics Stoler hopes to alleviate by injecting new blood into the old guard. And as a supporter of term limits, she’s already taken steps to firmly position herself as a patron of fresh perspective and societal progression in the minds of local voters.
“People are frustrated with career politicians and they want a change,” said Stoler, who has signed an agreement stating that, if elected, she would not serve more than three congressional terms and two stints in the senate. “If someone has the same job for 38 years, when does anyone else ever get a chance? When is a new approach ever going to be taken?”
Thinking About Running In A Primary?
Some Important Dates
By Jay Cook
Here is a timeline of the important dates to remember for this year’s primary election season.
Feb. 15– Submission of evening voter registration plan by county commissioners of registration to the Secretary of State.
March 1– Governor commissions county election board members.
April 2– Secretary of State submits notice to county clerks and county Boards of Election of available offices and public questions for upcoming general election.
April 2– Nomination petition filing deadline for the primary election.
April 13– County and Municipal Clerk drawings for ballot positions for primary election candidates.
May 15– Certification of polling places by county Board of Elections.
June 5– Primary Election Day.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 8-15, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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