New Jersey voters will fill seats in the United States House of Representatives in all twelve legislative districts in November, plus one Senate seat. This column will attempt to provide at least a snapshot of each of the twenty-six major party candidates in these races. Any reader who would like to see coverage of any third-party candidate in any of these races should please contact the author with at least the identity of the candidate and the race in which he is running.
This article covers the major candidates in the 9th legislative district; the entire series will be indexed here as articles are added.
The 9th Congressional District includes a small northern bit of Hudson County, the southern edge of Bergen County, and the southeastern tail of Passaic county, including part of Patterson.
Both candidates in the general election ran unopposed in the primary.
Democratic incumbent Congressman Bill Pascrell, formerly Mayor of Patterson, became Congressman from District 8 in 1996; redistricting moved part of Patterson into District 9 (eliminating one of New Jersey's formerly thirteen legislative disticts), but he was re-elected from District 9 in 2012. With nearly two decades in Congress, Pascrell has a substantial record reflecting his views. He is considered a moderate Democrat, and follows the Democratic party line about ninety-five percent of the time. He strongly favors expanding the healthcare bill, same-sex marriage, green energy, stimulus programs, affirmative action in hiring for women and minorities, and limiting campaign funding. He similarly strongly opposes school choice and maintaining U.S. sovereignty as opposed to submission to the United Nations, and is strongly opposed to legislation that would compromise animal rights in favor of human needs. Also on his list of positions he supports are higher taxes on the wealthy, abortion as a woman's right, and citizenship for illegal aliens; he similarly opposes free trade, privatized social security, keeping God in the public sphere, stricter criminal punishments, and expanding the military, and he is open to legalizing marijuana and is not opposed to becoming involved in Iran. Prior to being in politics he was a teacher and a member of the United States Army, and obtained a masters degree in philosophy.
His Republican opponent is also an educator, Dr. Dierdre Paul, with two masters and one doctorate in education fields. She identifies herself as a "Frederick Douglass Republican" on her Facebook page. She is reportedly presently active in her Roman Catholic church and formerly active in the Bergen County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.). She has taught in the New York City school system and in New Jersey at Montclair State University. Paul has accepted an invitation to be interviewed by e-mail, and we are awaiting her responses to our questions.
The district is third lowest in white voters, with the second highest Hispanic population and ranking third in Asian voters and fourth in Black voters. Unemployment is slightly above the state median, and income in the bottom half. It ties for the lowest high school graduation rate, but stands near the middle on college graduates. Although Pascrell has been in Congress since 1997, this technically is his first term as 9th district Congressman. The 8th district which he represented was largely dissolved, most of it going into the 9th, which lost significant parts of its territory; in a bitter primary fight in 2012 Pascrell defeated fellow Democratic incumbent Steve Rothman, who had represented the district since 1997. The Democrats have won the district by between two thirds and three quarters of the vote since at least the beginning of the century.
The author is attempting to contact all candidates in New Jersey Congressional races, and will in the weeks ahead provide featured coverage of those who respond.