Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett of Wayne, a Democrat, has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Congress from the 11th Congressional District. In a speech announcing his run, Bartlett drew upon his connections to the Indian-American community to garner support.
“I’m the son of a country doctor. He kept his doctor’s bag in the back of his pickup truck, with a chainsaw in case a downed tree ever stood between him and a patient. Dad’s example of commitment and service guides me every day,” Bartlett is quoted saying in a press release. He is married to Khyati Y. Joshi, a full Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she teaches about race and religion in America. “I’m equally inspired by the example of my father- and mother-in-law, Dr. Yogesh and Madhu Joshi, who traveled halfway across the world, and helped build an Indian American community for themselves and their daughters and so many others,” Bartlett added. Khyati Joshi is also co-chair of the South Asian American Caucus of the N.J. Democratic State Committee.
Bartlett stresses the diversity of his interfaith (Christian and Hindu) and inter-racial family. The family attends St. John’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, and are involved with Hindu temples in the area, the press release said.
Bartlett, a Harvard Law School graduate and two-term freeholder, announced his run for the Democratic party nomination at the Alps Diner in his hometown of Wayne on Friday. The 45-year-old attorney said he will begin his campaign with “30 coffees in 30 days,” meeting with residents around the 11th District to hear their concerns.
“I want to hear from you, the voters, about your lives, your kids, and your parents, and your hopes, you dreams and your fears,” Bartlett told about two dozen supporters gathered at the diner.
Bartlett is an attorney with Murphy and Orlando LLC, a firm that frequently litigates on behalf of Democratic party interests, such laws regarding voter registration, at both the state and federal level. His partner is Michael Murphy, the former Morris County Prosecutor who was appointed by Gov. Jim Florio in the 1990s.
Murphy was at the diner for the campaign kick-off on Friday. Bartlett took aim at Frelinghuysen, a 12-term congressman who has was once considered a moderate Republican, but has supported President Donald Trump on the travel ban and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
“Congressman Frelinghuysen’s 100 percent voting record in support of the Trump agenda this year is the culmination of a decade-long and continuing transformation of the congressman from someone who represented the 11th Congressional District’s moderate and pragmatic New Jersey values to someone who answers to ideologues in Washington while dodging contact with his own constituents,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett is the latest contender for the Democratic party nomination. He joins two candidates who have already entered the race, Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor from Montclair, and Jack Gebbia, a 26-year-old U.S. Army National Guard veteran from Boonton. Assemblyman Jack McKeon of West Orange has said he’s considering making a run for the seat, and Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark is also thinking about running.
Some Indian-Americans Bartlett met during his campaign are quoted saying favorable things about him. “We hadn’t met John previously, but we came away from the evening impressed by the depth and breadth of John’s knowledge of the issues, his record of results as a Freeholder and his commitment to hear out and respond to all our neighbors’ questions and concerns,” Rob Soni, who hosted a coffee in Randolph along with his wife Rachita, is quoted saying. “He’s a family man, and understands what it’s like to live in our area. Everyone who joined us was struck by his ability to speak to the issues we’re concerned about, and issues affecting families like ours,” Soni added.