While he may not be a household name this election cycle, Democratic 8th District congressional candidate Will Sheehan says he’ll beat U.S. Rep. Albio Sires in the July 7th primary.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I’m going to win and when I do there’s going to be a lot of change coming,” Sheehan said in a phone interview yesterday.
Sheehan has a distinguished military record as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, a former SEAL TEAM Intelligence Officer, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He believes that veterans need to be better represented on the local, county, and federal level and that the main functions of a congressional representative are to get federal funding for their district and advocate for national issues.
“A congressman doesn’t govern: he gets federal allocation of funds and pounds the table on for his constituents on a national level like health care or immigration reform,” he said.
“This district should be the most powerful district in New Jersey. The federal allocation of funds should be flowing, roads should be paved, full affordable housing units should be built and fire departments should have PPE.”
“When trouble arises, a pandemic, these are the guys at the front door, putting on the superman cape to fight for us. In six months to a year, we’re going to see layoffs in this district.”
While Sheehan acknowledged that Sires has a significant edge in local name recognition, he doesn’t believe that will play a huge difference in this race.
“Street credit in the district doesn’t matter: street credit in Capital Hill matters. Sires doesn’t do that, he doesn’t pass legislation, he doesn’t get federal funds flowing into his district. He doesn’t create legislation: since 2009 he’s created four laws and three of them were renaming post offices.”
Ahead of his re-election bid, the incumbent has touted being a co-sponsor of legislation such as the Justice in Policing Act, as well as leading the charge for NJ Transit funding and SAFER grants for the Jersey City and North Hudson fire departments.
Still, Sheehan remains unimpressed, indicating that it’s very easy for a federal legislator to co-sponsor a bill after it has been created by someone else.
He was also critical of the development along the West New York and Weehawken waterfront, which began during Sires’ tenure was West New York mayor, stating that he doesn’t see anyone reason why developers need incentives to build four miles from New York City.
“Commercial developers shouldn’t need to be incentivized to build. PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes] programs are taking money away from the education system. Jersey City, Hoboken, and Bayonne are missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“Commercial developers, and these politicians, are doing the district a real disservice by building these high rises. This is why when people in this district decide to have families, they move to the suburbs.”
The Bayonne native, who cringes at the mere mention of machine politics, also indicated that he wants to see term limits for U.S. representatives and senators.
He believes that congresspeople should be only allowed to serve for 10 years (five terms), while senators should be limited to 12 years (two terms).
“If you stay there, you become desensitized to the job you’re supposed to do, you become disconnected, open to corruption, you became lethargic: I think term limits would really help this country,” Sheehan exclaimed.
Despite Sires having six figures in his campaign war chest and the support the state’s top Democrats, along with the local party, Sheehan thinks that the primarily vote-by-mail election next Tuesday will work heavily in his favor.
“We caught some breaks, in my opinion, the vote-by-mail option helped us out: it saturated the electoral landscape and there’s lot of hypersensitivity to politics. When the ballot came out, people were paying attention to it,” he explained.
“Get out the vote no longer exists … a lot of people just vote the line, but I think with the hypersensitivity, and the VBM option, we’re in good shape. Sires doesn’t even have a campaign website or much of a social media presence.”
Sheehan admitted that while he can’t compare to fellow Democratic challenger Hector Oseguera’s social media following, he says that his targeted ads have reached hundreds of thousands of voters and that he’s been executing a targeted door knocking campaign for weeks.
In closing, Sheehan said that anyone who feels that they need a change from the typical local party politics should give him a shot in this election.
“I’m not going to play with the machine. I don’t want to be a congressman my whole life: I want to do eight to 10 years and then do something else,” he stated.