Declaring ‘We are starting a Revolution,’ Morristown mayor invites Frelinghuysen to town hall meeting at MPAC, and urges rally in Morris Township

Activist at 'Where's Rodney?' rally in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Pamela Babcock
Activist at 'Where's Rodney?' rally in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Pamela Babcock

Video: Mayor Dougherty extends invitation to Congressman Frelinghuysen

By Kevin Coughlin

Declaring that “we are definitely starting a Revolution,” Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty on Saturday urged anti-Trump activists to take their message to neighboring Morris Township and other traditionally Republican towns across Morris County.

He also offered to host a town hall meeting with Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) at the 1,300-seat Mayo Performing Arts Center.

“We can fill it,” Dougherty told a morning rally outside Morristown town hall. For weeks, constituents have been requesting a meeting with the 12-term congressman, who has not held a town hall gathering since 2013.

“We want our Congressman to come out and hold town-wide meetings,” said Dougherty, who has praised Frelinghuysen in the past. “People have to be heard. Right now… we’re not being heard.”

Frelinghuysen’s staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Allison Larena, president of MPAC, later told “The theatre is host to all different types of community events and we would be happy to speak with the mayor about his plans” for a town hall meeting.

'WE ARE STARTING A REVOLUTION': Mayor Tim Dougherty addresses rally in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Bill Lescohier
‘WE ARE STARTING A REVOLUTION’: Mayor Tim Dougherty addresses rally in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Bill Lescohier



Organized by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, Saturday’s event drew more than 350 spectators, according to a police estimate. The mostly white crowd waved signs in spring-like sunshine, asking “Where’s Rodney?” and decrying the GOP’s promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A healthcare bill  circulating among Republican lawmakers is “our worst nightmare,” said New Jersey Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, asserting it favors corporations and the wealthy and would “rip away coverage for tens of millions of people.”

“The ACA saved my life,” said Lisa Krutisia, a teacher from Mt. Olive who cited tests that diagnosed her cancer in time to treat it. 

Krutisia said her late aunt, Barbara Ann Shupe of Morristown, was not so lucky. When Shupe’s employer went out of business, she lost her health insurance, and by the time the ACA kicked into gear, it was too late for the diabetes sufferer.

Clean Water Action, New Jersey NOW, Blue Wave New Jersey and NJ 11th for Change, which drew 1,300 people to four town halls this week, were among organizations at the rally. Other events were scheduled Saturday in Branchburg and Jersey City.

An estimated crowd of more than 350 showed up for 'Where's Rodney?' rally at Morristown town hall, Feb. 25, 2017. PAn estimated crowd of more than 350 showed up for 'Where's Rodney?' rally at Morristown town hall, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlinhoto by Kevin
An estimated crowd of more than 350 showed up for ‘Where’s Rodney?’ rally at Morristown town hall, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Speakers also tore into the President’s stepped up enforcement against undocumented residents, and Frelinghuysen’s environmental record.

Youths in the 11th District now are afraid to attend school because they fear their parents may be rounded up for deportation while they are away, said Karol Ruiz, an attorney for the immigrant advocacy organization Wind of the Spirit.

“Children should not have to worry about that. And Rodney Frelinghuysen is our representative, and he has the power to speak on that,” said Ruiz, whose group is planning a “No Hate, No Fear” march in Morristown on March 18, 2017. 

“The truth is, Rodney has the power, on the [House]Appropriations Committee, to make sure that funding goes where it needs to go: To healthcare, to clean air and water, not to terrorizing our immigrants, friends and families,” she told the crowd.

In a blistering attack, Jeff Tittle of the Sierra Club accused Frelinghuysen of caving to the oil- and gas lobbies and “corporate polluters,” and of cowardice for dodging town halls in favor of a “phony phone call town meeting with his handpicked cronies and buddies.”

Slideshow photos by Bill Lescohier, Pamela Babcock and Kevin Coughlin

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Elizabeth Dyer, a constituent from Montclair who was accompanied to the rally by her labradoodles, Matata and Tess, said she cannot get through to her Representative. “When I call Frelinghuysen’s office, I get a message saying he can’t take any more messages,” she said.

The Morristown rally was the sixth demonstration for Verona resident Ina Denburg since Trump took office. 

Shaggy demonstrator in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Pamela Babcock
BIRD-DOGGING: Shaggy demonstrator in Morristown, Feb. 25, 2017. Photo by Pamela Babcock

 “I’d feel guilty if I stayed home. It would be impossible,” said Denburg, likening hot-button issues to tentacles of an octopus. “I can’t even figure out which one is more important now.”

One of the loudest roars came in response to the Mayor’s suggestion that the activists take their show on the road.

“You can start at Revolution here, no doubt about it,” Dougherty said, noting Morristown’s history in the War for Independence.  But demonstrators need to “wake up people” in places where they “aren’t paying attention,” he said.

“We’ve got to start hitting communities like Mendham, like Roxbury, like Chester, like Jefferson, like Morris Township,” said the Mayor, who is running for a third term, as his opponent, Councilwoman Michelle Dupree Harris, watched from the audience.

“I think we should do a thing in Morris Township. What do you think about that?” Dougherty said.  “They’re going to love that. How about Morris Township?”

Stay tuned for more coverage.



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  1. Mr. Stock,

    While I pretty much disagree 100% on your positions, you are 100% correct that he doesn’t want to hear from you or me. 🙂

  2. Whether you voted for RF or not, he needs to listen to your voice so that he can represent you — and all his constituents — with certitude. For instance, he should hear what his constituents have to say about the Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s perjury before the Senate Confirmation Hearings for his appointment as AG. His constituents need to be reassured that he will stand up for us and disavow his support for a confirmed perjurer and that he will persue not just the AG’s resignation, but also his prosecution. If not, then he needs to explain to his constituents why he believes that the AG is above the law.

  3. I would also like to see Congressman Frelinghuysen hold multiple town hall meetings, but for different reasons than the radical left. You see, we in the conservative movement have been trying to get him to do so for a very long time, years!
    But I think that the questions that we would ask and the opinions that we would express would be wholly different. Like:
    * Why haven’t you repealed Obama Care yet? The whole thing is a disaster. It is more about control than it is about care. Free Market reforms will both lower costs and improve overall service. That is a fact. Or
    * Why won’t you stop spending money that we don’t have? As Thomas Jefferson said “The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” In other words, you are robbing our children and grandchildren because they will have to pay back what you have spent.
    * We support the idea on deporting criminal aliens. Frankly, when you break our laws to come here you should get no benefits. For every person that has come here illegally there are 10 waiting beyond our borders, obeying our laws. Why should those that butt in line get any preference?
    * We support a pause in the refugee settlement program because we have seen what is happening in Europe due to uncontrolled immigration. We want to make sure that those who come here are willing to share our values and want to assimilate. Assimilation is key to the stability of the nation. We are not talking about permanent bans nor are we talking about strictly religious criteria. But it is legitimate to consider what information you can gather or lack thereof and it is legitimate to consider one’s beliefs. In previous generations we tried to prevent anarchists from immigrating here because they were dangerous. One of them killed William McKinley, for example.
    * We want to get this economy moving and that means lowering taxes and regulations. It means getting the federal government out of the way so that more individual’s are free to make decisions for them selves and free to take chances.
    * We would tell our big government loving neighbors to stop trying to tell the rest of us what to do and what to believe. That is the last thing a normal human adult needs, but it is the first thing a liberal politician seems to want to do.

  4. Are the Democratic congressmen in the nearby 8th, 9th and 10th districts regularly holding these town hall events? What about Menendez and Booker? I haven’t seen any coverage of those town halls (or lack thereof) in any of the local media. All elected officials should be held accountable for meeting with their constituents.

  5. Rodney Frelinghuysen is the epitome of a “career politician”. He has no interest in the people he represents, only the corporate/party interests. He needs to be accessible and “we the people” need to stop accepting this type of behavior from our politicians. They divide us, because if we all banded together, we would be unstoppable.

  6. Can see it now a rally in Morris Township’s Ginty Park ( with permit, of course) for “Open Government.”

  7. I did not vote for RF! He needs to meet with the people. I do, however, support our President’s agenda, but not his verbal delivery of ideas.

    Rally for President Trump!

  8. I did not vote for RF! He needs to meet with the people. I do, however, support our President’s agenda, but not his verbal delivery of ideas.

    Rally for resident Trump!

  9. Samantha, thanks for making the offer to help organize in Morris Township. Based on the comments posted in response to Mr. Caffrey’s “out of left field” commentary I believe there are both residents and non-residents of Morris Township who would be willing to get involved. I have been a casual observer over the last few years of how Morris Township operates and it most certainly has the look and appearance of a “good ol’ boy, fix is in, back room dealin” type of setup. I believe Mr. Caffrey’s commentary piece has had the unintended result of opening the door and letting in a crack of daylight as to the overall mindset of the Morris Township Committee. Any efforts to organize and work towards throwing that door wide open and letting the sun shine bright on how things are done in Morris Township should be welcomed and supported. I think we might be surprised at what we learn or observe. The next Morris Township Committee Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday March 22, I plan on being there with some comments of my own for Mr. Caffrey, perhaps some organizing can take place prior to that meeting to encourage others to attend as well.