We at Action Together New Jersey are proud of all of our ATNJ members who have decided to run for public office. We’re rooting for them all, but whether they win or lose, their willingness to do the work and serve their communities is inspiring!
We’ll be adding new candidates as we get them, so follow along to see even more great ATNJ members running for office this year.
Dr. Bhimani graduated from Brown University and received her M.D. from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. She was a practicing Ob/Gyn in Providence, RI, and at Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ.
In 2017, Dr. Bhimani ran for State Senate in LD25. Incumbent Anthony Bucco Sr. narrowly held onto his seat with a 52-48% margin in a district that at the time had 9,332 more registered Republicans than Democrats.
Dr. Bhimani is a founding member of the Morris County Women’s Political Caucus and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Morris County Democratic Committee. She and her family have lived in Mendham Township for 14 years.
Darcy is a Chester resident who currently raises chickens, sheep, and honey bees with her family on their small farm. Before she became involved in politics, Darcy spent nearly 20 years in the financial services industry as a project manager and regulatory analyst.
Darcy is running to be a strong voice in Trenton for New Jersey families and businesses. She believes we need advocates with vision and conviction who will work to lower health care and prescription drug costs, keep taxes in check, and ensure New Jersey is affordable for all our residents. Darcy was the Morris County Chair for Rep. Tom Malinowski’s 2018 Congressional campaign, is an Emerge New Jersey alum (class of 2018), and currently serves as Chester Township Municipal Chair.
Steven Farkas is the father of a son born with an extreme congenital heart defect, who underwent three open heart surgeries in his first year of life. As a result, health insurance has been a crucial concern for Steven and his family.
Steven was raised in a union family where he was taught to fight for the rights of those who are pushed to the sidelines, and give a voice to those whose voices have been silenced. He has done so all his life, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. He is running for Assembly in the 30th legislative district to continue this work by fighting for progressive issues including Medicare for All, free community college, environmental protection, and removing dark money from our political system.
“Fortgang” means, “moving forward” and that is exactly what Laura Fortgang helps people do in her career, as the mother of three, and in her community. She brings the energy and professional skills to cut through the gridlock of our state government and find solutions that work for everyone. For 24 years she’s done just this working with large organizations, like NASA, corporations like Novartis, and many small businesses as an executive coach and a consultant. She is currently the chairwoman of the Verona Democratic Committee, a responsibility which convinced her government must operate with transparency and accountability. She also serves as an interfaith minister, helping her to deepen her commitment to the district and the many communities that comprise it. When elected to represent the 26th Legislative District, she will bring this same energy and skill to tackle New Jersey’s most crucial problems, where families are paying more but getting less in return.
Allison has lived in Aberdeen with her husband since 1999 and they are raising their two children there. Allison earned both her undergraduate and law degrees at Hofstra University and has worked as an attorney in New York City and New Jersey.
Allison is currently serving her second term as president of the Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education, and volunteers for their Educational Foundation. She is also a Union Steward for CWA1037, and is active on the Aberdeen Zoning Board. Allison is a member of AIPAC early leader initiative program as well as a member of Temple Beth Ahm, and is a volunteer with Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue.
As a passionate supporter of women’s reproductive health, education, growth of small business and tax reform, Allison promises to bring her many years of public service to Trenton to help people in LD13.
Stacey Gunderman is a working mom, wife of a school teacher, engaged activist and community organizer. She lives with her husband, Mark, and their two young sons in New Providence. Stacey works in Senior Living and previously worked as a financial professional with Prudential. She first became involved in politics by organizing fellow activists and area residents to attend marches and rallies in the region. This experience led her to revive the local Democratic party, and through her efforts, Democratic candidates have started to win in New Providence.
Stacey is running for Assembly in District 21 because she believes that we need representatives that share our values and will stand up for us. She is committed to modernizing public transportation, investing in infrastructure and education, reducing our tax burden, supporting small businesses and making the tough decisions to fix the fiscal crisis in state government for future generations. She will listen, be responsive, be accountable and bring fresh approaches because you deserve better.
Deana Lykins is an attorney and working mother of three great kids. She currently works as Development Director at Project Self-Sufficiency, a non-profit organization that provides services to low income individuals and families. Deana previously represented organizations in the private sector, and also worked for a number of years for the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services and the Senate Democratic Office, advising the Legislature on policy issues including labor, commerce and consumer affairs. She has also been a volunteer for the Sussex County YMCA, a Child Ambassador for World Vision and a parent PTA volunteer.
Deana is running for the NJ General Assembly to provide a more diverse, comprehensive and powerful voice in Trenton. She believes strongly in the power of adequately funded education and infrastructure to bring about a stronger, more sustainable economy for the people of Legislative District 24.
Lisa Mandelblatt grew up in Springfield and now lives with her husband Gary and their dog, Emmie, in Westfield, with two adult children who live in New York City and Washington, D.C. Lisa practiced complex corporate litigation and white-collar criminal defense law in New York City and Boston. After retiring from law practice, Lisa worked for nearly a decade as a public school educator and is an active volunteer in the community. In 2018, she ran for US Congress and later served as the Union County Chairwoman for Tom Malinowski’s successful Congressional campaign.
Lisa is running for Assembly in District 21 because she believes that we need representatives that share our values and will stand up for us. She is committed to modernizing public transportation, investing in infrastructure and education, reducing our tax burden, supporting small businesses and making the tough decisions to fix the fiscal crisis in state government for future generations. She will listen, be responsive, be accountable and bring fresh approaches because you deserve better.
Marisa is a mom and partner at a small law firm in Flemington. After graduating from Yale and before attending Seton Hall Law, she worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Patty Murray on legislation including the Violence Against Women Act. As an attorney, she has served in roles including Trustee to the New Jersey State Bar Association and has taught Family Law at Raritan Valley Community College.
Marisa is running for Assembly because she believes that state governments are increasingly crucial to protecting our interests, but our current District 23 Assemblymen have shown over the past ten years that they are not capable of getting the job done. Marisa strongly believes that it is time for a change in Trenton to give District 23 a real voice in the political process and to ensure that our values are represented.
Awais is a first-generation immigrant from Pakistan who’s lived in New Jersey most of his life. During his college years at NJIT, he grew to love the city of Newark for its culture, diversity, and community. After graduating, Awais became an activist, joining the Sunrise Movement’s effort to bring attention to the politics behind climate change and promote the Green New Deal. He was awestruck by the movement’s success in changing the public discourse, and has been inspired to continue the fight for progressive change as a candidate.
In the Assembly, Awais will work to advance progressive policies that haven’t been enacted despite Democratic majorities in both the Assembly and State Senate. He will hold elected officials accountable for Newark’s lead water crisis and for the lack of oversight on Economic Development Authority corporate tax subsidies. Awais’ ultimate goal is to create a much-needed dialogue among neighbors and amplify the voices of Newark and Belleville community members.
Jean Czarkowski is a lifelong resident of Ocean County, having grown up in Beachwood and Toms River. As an education and social work/counseling professional, she has dedicated her life to empowering people and inspiring them to identify and cultivate their talents and strengths. She has used her relationship-building skills to pull agencies, organizations and services together to meet needs within communities.
Jean is running for Ocean County Freeholder because she believes that it is time we have people in office with conflict resolution and relationship building skills. She wants our county to use resources wisely, to be proactive rather than reactive, and to ensure that all individuals are afforded equal access to systems of not only economic security but upward mobility. Jean believes that our communities need to heal from the partisan divide and recognize that we can come together on many things that will improve the quality of life and generate prosperity for all our citizens.
Susan Korngut was born and raised in Atlantic County. She is a family law attorney and owns her own legal practice in Northfield. Susan previously served on the board of Court Appointed Special Advocates and was elected to Northfield City Council in 2017. During her term, she has promoted the diversity of Northfield and fought to preserve the quality of life for all residents.
Susan is running for Atlantic County Executive because she believes that county government has been stuck in “cruise control” for too long. As a practicing attorney, she knows how to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, and as Atlantic County Executive, she plans to tackle the problems we face head-on, from growing our economy to combating income inequality to protecting our most vulnerable citizens.
Moira Nelson lives in Asbury Park and was born and raised in Middletown. She is a longtime fashion industry executive and small business owner. In her spare time, she is dedicated to civic engagement, justice, and advocating for drug policy reform, and is currently the Director of Drug Policy Reform for ATNJ.
Moira is running for Monmouth County Freeholder because it is increasingly unaffordable to live here, especially for our most vulnerable neighbors, and she will make it a top priority to ensure affordability and access to services for all residents. Monmouth County has historically been a leader in innovation and technology, and Moira believes that we should be working toward a resilient, sustainable future that safeguards our natural resources and creates good, “green” jobs.
Cara Parmigiani was born and raised in Morris County and still resides there. After graduating from Rutgers, she worked in property management and taught martial arts, then attended Seton Hall Law and opened her own law practice in Mountain Lakes.
Cara is running for Morris County Freeholder to make sure citizens’ tax dollars are used to benefit them. She believes in fiscal responsibility balanced with community caring. Through careful planning, we can fund programs, reduce traffic, improve infrastructure, educate our children, care for the elderly, provide services for veterans, and keep our county beautiful. Freeholders are responsible for the county budget priorities, and Cara is running to be sure that those priorities represent you and what you want.
Michael Thompson lives in Mendham Township with his wife, Pandora, and his son, Boone. He has been a practicing trusts and estates attorney for over 20 years, drafting wills and trusts, administering estates, and litigating guardianships. He has practiced before various Surrogate’s Courts throughout New Jersey.
Michael believes that the County Surrogate should be one of the least political jobs in government, since county residents utilize the services of the Surrogate’s Court during difficult and sensitive times in their lives: when a loved one dies, when facing a family crisis, when a parent loses capacity, and when a disabled child turns 18. He believes that his skills and experience make him a strong candidate for the job.
Al Baginsky is a longtime resident of Eatontown and is currently in his first term as a Borough Council member. He has also served the community in positions on the Shade Tree Commission, Buildings & Insurance Committee, Finance Committee, and Zoning Board of Adjustment. As a Senior System Analyst at Fort Dix, Al uses his knowledge and experience to make local government more efficient.
Al is running for a second term on the Eatontown Borough Council. He prioritizes preserving open space and cleaning up our parks, and stood as the lone vote on Council against destroying the forested portion of 80 Acre Park. Al believes strongly that being a good listener leads to sound decisions, which provides for positive results. He has worked hard to keep the tax rate level during his first term and wants to continue to provide direction to Eatontown’s future.
Renata Bodner is a native of Brazil and has lived in Eatontown with her husband Eric and son Ethan for 14 years. Renata holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the prestigious University of Campinas, and has over 20 years’ experience working as a software engineer/developer. In her free time, she is an accomplished photographer, passionate about the environment, and an active grassroots volunteer. During last year’s election, Renata led a volunteer-powered “Get Out the Vote” effort that sent handwritten postcards to about 900 infrequent voters in Eatontown, urging them to vote in the midterm election.
Renata is running for Council because she wants to make sure the environment is taken into consideration when development decisions are made. She also supports streamlining Borough government to stabilize taxes and provide efficient, cost-effective services.
Jim was born and raised in NJ, and he and his wife have lived in Chester Township for more than a decade. Their three children have attended local public schools. An active hiker, sailor, runner and cyclist, Jim has always had a passion for the outdoors. He is currently a member of the Chester Township Environmental Commission and serves as the chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at William Paterson University.
Jim’s business and public service experience includes managing diverse projects, teams and budgets, and has instilled in him a unique perspective and voice for our Chester Township community. He is running on a platform of principles, leadership, and community-minded values, and would be honored to serve as the next Mayor of Chester Township.
Cori Herbig grew up in Chester and now lives in Lake Hiawatha with her husband and two children. She is a Rutgers College graduate and holds a law degree from Pace Law School.
Cori has an extensive history as a legislative strategist and advocate. She has spent her career fighting for those negatively impacted by systemic oppression and marginalization. She is currently the Director of State Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, which includes Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, where she works to pass lifesaving gun violence prevention policies and preserve public safety laws throughout the country. Before that, she spent 13 years advocating for animal welfare at the ASPCA and practiced law to keep struggling families safe from unlawful eviction at Westchester/Putnam Legal Services. Cori has dedicated her career to ensuring that elected leaders are held accountable to the will of the people.
Judy Hernandez has lived in Glacier Hills in Parsippany since 2000. She is a civil engineer and has worked in environmental consulting and construction in New York City. Judy is also an advocate for the environment and has continued her environmental education, most recently with the Rutgers Environmental Stewards and Rutgers Green Infrastructure Champions programs. She currently sits on the Parsippany Planning Board and the Parsippany Environmental Advisory Committee, and is a trustee on the board for the Parsippany Child Day Care Center. She is also Vice Chair of the Parsippany Democratic Committee, and has served as District Representative on the County Committee since 2009.
Judy’s belief is that many issues, such as the economy, environment, public health and national security, intersect and that local civic engagement and education is key to solving those problems. With Parsippany on the threshold of planning for the next generation, Judy believes that there is an opportunity to bring smart and sustainable environmental and economic strategies for these solutions.
Devra Keenan lives in Skillman with her husband Sergey, son Maxim, and dog Cooper. She is a founder of High Impact Advisors, a workforce innovation and coaching firm, and was previously a Corporate Vice President for Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Operations for New York Life. She recently joined Economic Development Commission, where she is committed to challenging the current reliance on retail-based growth and shifting the focus to smart, sustainable redevelopment centered around serving the current and future needs of Montgomery’s residents.
Devra grew up in a politically-active family and was involved in campaigns from a young age. She is now running for Montgomery Township Committee as a forward-thinking leader committed to bringing transparency, vision and inclusive values to the Committee and the community. She believes in politics you can trust and looks forward to serving the citizens of Montgomery Township.
Christine McGrath moved to Verona in 2010 with her husband Jess, in order to raise a family in a safe community with great schools and a walkable downtown area. Since then, she has taken on leadership roles in several Verona organizations, and most notably served as an advocate to renovate the library and bring it to modern standards, making a centerpiece of the community for everyone to enjoy.
Christine is running for Verona Town Council because she believes Verona needs a new voice in local government – a voice that is thinking ahead on what Verona residents need in order to raise their families here and stay here through their retirement.
Plainfield City Council, Ward 2
Born in Iowa and raised in Iowa and Arizona, Sean has lived in New Jersey for 17 years and been a resident of Plainfield for 8 years. A graduate of Boston University, with a degree in political science, Sean has been an active member of the Plainfield community. Serving on the Plainfield Planning Board since 2014 he has worked hard to make sure that developments in the city conform to both the cities Master Plan as well as the needs and wishes of the citizens of Plainfield.
An advocate for all things Plainfield, Sean has served on many boards and commissions within the community including, Plainfield YMCA Board of Directors, Plainfield Vision 2025 Executive Committee, Plainfield Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, Plainfield Promise Commission and as an elected member of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee.
Professionally, Sean has worked in operations management for most of his career with an emphasis on marketing operations for large national and multi-national corporations. He is a resident of the Netherwood Heights neighborhood with his partner of 15 years and their two dogs.
Bud Ravitz was born and raised in New Jersey and now lives in Morris Township with his wife, Lee. He is the proud father of three children and a project manager for a large telecom company. Bud is also an active member of the Morris Township Democratic Committee, and can be found at most every Township Committee meeting and Planning Board meeting, listening to and learning about the concerns of all Morris Township residents and the challenges the committee faces.
Bud is running for Morris Township Committee in order to work hard for the community he loves, focusing on the needs of all Morris Township residents, regardless of their political affiliation. He is an avid reader of the news, both domestic and international, and has a keen sense of how events and actions taken nationally or globally may affect us locally. Like all of us, Bud wants our community to continue to thrive, and be the hometown to which we love to come home, each night.
Tonya Rivera grew up in Monmouth County and has lived in Eatontown since she and her husband bought their home here in 2017. She has worked for 18 years in public education as a teacher and school administrator in both urban and suburban settings, and knows the importance of meeting strategic, long-term goals.
Tonya supports conscientious development and equally values green spaces, such as preserving the wooded portion of 80 Acre Park. She serves on various Borough committees, including chair of the Finance & Ordinance Committee, liaison to Tenant Rights, Complete Streets, and Public Works.
Tonya was appointed to the Eatontown Borough Council in January 2019 and is running for election to her first full term. During Tonya’s time on Council to date, she has advocated for strategic planning with involvement from all stakeholders and eliminating barriers to civic participation, such as providing child care so parents can attend Council meetings.
Roberta G. Walters attended and graduated from both Sacred Heart School (where her mom Loretta was a beloved teacher) and Manville High School. After getting married and living in Virginia for 19 years, Roberta moved back to Manville in 2012. She is currently a Quality Assurance Manager at the company where she has worked for 25 years, and held previous positions including Project Manager, where she led large-scale, multi-million-dollar initiatives.
Roberta currently serves as an elected county committee member, recording secretary for the Manville Democratic Club, and a member of the Somerset County Democratic Committee’s Boards and Commissions committee. A tireless advocate for women, Roberta is an active member of the Democratic Federation of Women and sits on the Steering Committee for Indivisible Central New Jersey. She is also an avid animal lover with two rescue dogs—she and Bella, her certified therapy dog, frequently visit schools and libraries for “read-to-the-dog” and other programs.
Roberta is excited to be running for Borough Council in her hometown, and looks forward to using her skills in communications, managing risk, strategizing, and influencing change to benefit Manville and its residents.
Andrea Zeydelis is an avid volunteer and the proud mom of two. She is currently a Grant Coordinator with a nonprofit home health care organization, and during her 15-year career, she has worked with families, nonprofits and government agencies to create programs and policies focused on health, education, and aging. She is also the current municipal chair for the Denville Democratic Committee.
Andrea is running for Mayor of Denville to represent Denville residents and bring a new voice to local government. Two tenets of her platform are accountability and transparency. She wholeheartedly believes that good governance relies on the honesty and integrity of its public servants.
Democratic Committee Elections
Sophia Chadda has lived in Bernards Twp. for 20 years and raised her three children here. She runs a dental practice in Basking Ridge and has served on the Bernards Township Board of Health. Sophia also volunteers in a number of capacities, including at her children’s schools and at the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge.
With her STEM background, Sophia employs a fact- and evidence-based approach to solving problems and making decisions. She wants to foster greater communication between elected officials and residents of our town and facilitate the participation of more of her fellow residents in our civic affairs. She would be honored to serve her township neighbors and work to improve our future together.
Hardyston County Committee
Joan is currently retired and actively volunteers her time to assist Progressive Candidates with their campaigns while helping to promote change through policy. She is a Co-Chair of Action Together Sussex County, Executive Board Member of the Sussex County Democratic Committee and Chair of Outreach for the Sussex County Democratic Committee.
Joan is seeking re-election for her Hardyston County Committee seat.
Emmy is a social work professor, homelessness researcher, and founding member of Hudson Progressives. She just won another 2 year term on the Hudson County Committee.