Who am I?
I am a licensed clinical social worker and mental health professional with over 30 years of experience. In addition to my professional work, I am community activist and a tireless advocate for women's and children's issues.
I understand working-class families because I come from one. As the daughter of Carl and Ruth Bidwell, I grew up in a Midwest farming community. My parents instilled in me strong family values, sense of hard work, self-discipline and community involvement.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in communication. I also hold a Master of Social Work degree from New York University.
I moved to New Jersey in 1981, and I am the proud mother of my son, Jay, who now attends NYU. A long-time Mahwah resident, I recently renovated and moved into an Upper Saddle River home.
Recognized by New Jersey for my dedication to children’s rights, I was appointed to the state Task Force on Abuse and Neglect. I also served on the state Division of Prevention and Community Partnership’s Advisory Board.
While serving on the Governor’s Transition Team, I created new policy and provided advice to prevent child abuse. The state Department of Human Services appointed me to a panel that restructured the Division of Youth and Family Services.
A founding member and president of three Bergen-based non-profit groups, I spearheaded organizations to protect abused and neglected children, to combat poverty, and to assist Upper Ringwood families who struggle with Superfund site contamination.
In private practice, I have helped vulnerable families, women, children and people with disabilities who face life’s toughest challenges. This provided me with a distinctive perspective on the issues and concerns that confront many of New Jersey's families.
For enjoyment, I play the bass guitar. I am a member of the National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences, and I own a small indie label and publishing company.
Why am I running?
I am running because we need a state Senator who understands the concerns and issues that are important to the people of Bergen and Passaic counties.
People are buckling under the burden of higher taxes and state budget cuts. Too many are struggling with unemployment and too many families face foreclosure. We need to improve our infrastructure and we need more effective flood control measures.
As your next state Senator, I will be a champion for hard-working middle-class families. I will safeguard the most vulnerable among us — our children, grandchildren, senior citizens and veterans.
I will endeavor to support sensible, responsive and cost-efficient solutions to address today’s critical issues and our evolving concerns.
As your next state Senator, I will promote innovative ways for our municipalities to share and consolidate services. This will help stabilize and hopefully lower local property taxes.
I will support business incentives to stimulate job growth and I will work diligently to attract clean industries and new businesses to the Garden State. This will help put people back to work.
As your next state Senator, I will ensure that women receive equal pay and all women have access to high-quality healthcare and preventative medical services. I will ensure everyone in New Jersey has equal rights under the law.
As a social worker and mental health professional, I have helped men, women, families and children overcome obstacles to reach their full potential. I have seen firsthand the impact of too many shortsighted and ineffective state policies.
I pledge to faithfully represent everyone in the 39th District. I invite you to share your ideas, proposals and suggestions with me at [email protected]
1.) Putting People Back to Work.
It is unacceptable that New Jersey ranks fourth in the nation for unemployment and second for home foreclosures.
As your next state Senator, I would support practical incentives to attract “clean and green” industries and new businesses into the Garden State. This will create jobs of the future while also protecting the environment.
I would promote partnerships between universities, colleges and businesses that create internships and jobs for college graduates. I would support investing more in science, health, technology, and engineering research.
As a small business owner, I recognize small businesses are the backbone of our economy. As your State Senator, I would support the state’s Small Business Loan Program that makes small businesses eligible for low-interest loans to add more jobs.
I also support the Back-to-Work NJ program that allows idled workers to continue to receive unemployment benefits while they retrain for new jobs.
2.) Fight for Women's Health Care and Pay Equity.
Women throughout New Jersey have fallen victim to shortsighted state policies and budget cutbacks – particularly on pay-equity and healthcare. This is absolutely shameful.
New Jersey has eliminated family planning funding and it has forced a number of women's health centers to shut down.
These health centers provide affordable preventative medicine for women and children including routine physicals, mammograms, flu and tetanus vaccines, prenatal care, screenings for breast and cervical cancer, and many other preventative screenings.
As your next state Senator, I will fight to restore women’s healthcare funding. I believe it is vital that all women have access to affordable, quality healthcare and preventative medicine.
I will also fight for equal pay for women. In 2012, New Jersey women earned 79-cents for each dollar compared to men who performed the same jobs. This is unacceptable. Women deserve to earn equal pay for equal work.
3.) Write Sensible Mental Health Laws.
As a social worker and mental health professional, I am acutely aware that neurological disorders are widely misunderstood. I also recognize our state does not have adequate laws to address the needs of people with mental illness or to their families,
For example, in 2011 the state indefinitely delayed implementation of a law that would give families a greater say about whether their mentally ill loved ones may be ordered to receive outpatient treatment. This law would also expand treatment services for the mentally ill. New Jersey put this law on a shelf for purely budgetary reasons. I would work to find the necessary money to implement it.
The “involuntary outpatient commitment” law would allow families to seek a court order to force mentally ill people to attend outpatient treatment programs if a licensed mental health professional deems them to be a risk to themselves or others.
As your next state Senator, I would partner with other mental health professionals, advocacy groups, care-providers and families to create an effective awareness campaign to advance public understanding of mental illnesses.
My DFA Values
I have been a huge supporter of DFA for several years. Jim Dean can even attest to my commitment.
I share your values, and I have embodied them in my past work. As a community activist, I have worked hard to promote the values of community, security, and liberty for everyone. As as an activist and a social worker, I always stood up for those who's voice often is heard. We need leaders who will fight to protect those who are vulnerable.
These same values will be a key part of my campaign. I will continue to stand up for the vulnerable - our children, our seniors, and women who treated unfairly. I will fight to protect everyone equally under the law. I am committed to protecting our civil liberties and fighting for equal rights.
I am also committed to investing in new and green technology so we can create jobs of tomorrow while also protecting our environment. This will allow us to leave a cleaner planet for future generations along with sustainable jobs.
I will always be a champion for progressive causes supported by DFA. With your support, we can forge a great partnership for progress.
My Campaign is People Powered!
My campaign has been people powered from day one. I have an extensive outreach program with aggressive goals for voter contact. This is important to me because I have always been a community activist.
I have a strong Women 2 Women program. Women reach out to other women about my candidacy and my concerns on issues pertaining to them. The War on Women is well and alive even here in NJ. My opponent has even compared supporting Planned Parenthood to supporting rape. I will be a champion for women's health care and for equal pay for women. In a district that predominantly has an unaffiliated party registration, this will be critical to winning over independent women and ultimately the campaign.
Going hand-in-hand with the above program, I will be working with advocacy groups like NARAL, Emily's List, Planned Parenthood, and others to ensure women's health care is made a priority in this campaign.
As a champion for equal rights for everyone, I will also be extensive outreach to the LGBT community. I hope to work with Garden State Equality and other organizations to be a voice for marriage equality and ending any form of discrimination based upon sexual orientation.
The outreach to these two groups will be a huge part of my field program. Hopefully, this outreach result in more than just votes. I hope to inspire progressives to be involved in my campaign. We must continue to build a coalition of people who care about these issues so we our voices can be heard. Together, we can take down an incumbent who has fought against progressive causes and is out of touch with working families.