By LINDA MOSS
On Friday during the kickoff of her so-called diner tour, Montclair’s Mikie Sherrill said that she plans to move into the 11th Congressional District, where she is seeking to oust Republican long-time incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen from office.
Sherrill, who now lives on South Mountain Avenue, made the remark at the Montclair Diner on Valley Road, the second stop as she kicked off her campaign tour of nine diners in Essex, Passaic and Morris counties, all within the 11th District.
A former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, Sherrill is seeking the Democratic nomination in the June primary next year to oppose Frelinghuysen in the General Election later in November. But Montclair lies within two districts, the 10th and the 11th, and Sherrill doesn’t live in the portion of the township that’s in the 11th District.
While the law allows Sherrill to run in the 11th District even though she doesn’t reside in it, she said that constituents have voiced so much concern about the issue – calling it a liability – that she plans to relocate. Sherrill, her husband and their family of four children will remain in Montclair, but plan to relocate to a part of town that’s in the 11th District, according to Sherrill.
“I’ll be moving into the district,” she said. “I’m committed to moving in before the primary … [I’m] house-hunting, house-painting my current house, fixing-up-ing, basement cleaning-outing.”
As for her decision to move, Sherrill said, “I was hearing about it from the people in the 11th District. It was obviously important, and I can totally understand that. People want to make sure that you’re fully committed to this race … This is an incredibly important district not just in New Jersey, not just in the 11th, but across the country. This is a key district that we need to win back the House of Representatives. And so I think the people respect that, and know just how important this race is. So it was important to them, it was important to me that I don’t leave anything on the table.”
The 11th District includes portions of Essex, Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties.
On Thursday Sherrill unveiled her plan to visits area diners on two days. She began Friday morning at the Nevada Diner in Bloomfield, and then headed over to the Montclair Diner shortly after 8 a.m.
“I wanted to get out and just talk to people about what their concerns are, what’s most on their minds,” she said at the Montclair Diner. “There are a lot of issues on the table in this election cycle and I’m interested in hearing which ones are impacting people in the 11th District.”
She found an enthusiastic supporter in township resident Robert Glick, who made it clear he was displeased with Frelinghuysen and wanted him out of office.
“Oh, wonderful,” he told Sherrill. “You already have my vote … I will tell everybody you’re running.”
Glick, who is originally from Morristown and is “almost 80,” said that he was involved in civil rights marches in the 1960s, and recalled seeing signs “scribbled on walls” saying “No Jews allowed here” and “no blacks allowed.” A few years ago, when he was in Wisconsin on business, Glick said that he even took part in a protest against the governor of that state, Scott Walker.
“All my life I’ve tried to fight for what I believe in,” Glick said. “I’ve lived through it all and seen it all.”
Sherill has been an unrelenting critic of Frelinghuysen, who has raised the ire of some of his constituents by refusing to meet with them and by supporting a number of initiatives championed by President Trump, including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Most recently, Frelinghuysen was blasted for not quickly denouncing Trump’s comments following the violence earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia, at a rally being held by neo-Nazis and radical right-wing groups.
After Montclair on Friday Sherrill was scheduled to visit the Verona Diner and then the Caldwell Diner, both on Bloomfield Avenue, ending at the Park West Diner on Route 46 in Little Falls.
The second leg of her diner tour is next Tuesday, with stops at the Ritz Diner on East Mount Pleasant Avenue, Livingston; the Florham Park Diner on Ridgedale Avenue; the Whippany Diner on Route 10; and the Hibernia Diner on Green Pond Road, Rockaway.
Sherrill, whose nickname “Mikie” is short for Michelle, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994. She was in active service for 10 years as a Navy helicopter pilot, leaving the service in 2003 to get a law degree from Georgetown University. She went into private practice before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.