The Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter (CJA) Social Action Committee hosted The Why We Vote Town Hall Meetings on October 26, 2023, from 6-8pm simultaneously in two of the three counties that the CJA Chapter serves, which are Somerset County and Middlesex County. Stay tuned for more details about the Why We Vote Town Hall for Union County being hosted May 22, 2024.

The Why We Vote Town Halls were strategically hosted two weeks before Election Day for the community to understand more about civics education and why it is important for all eligible individuals to register and then go to the polls on election day and vote.

The Social Action Committee held an in-person Town Hall style program with invited community partners co-sponsoring the events: the League of Women Voters of the Greater New Brunswick Area (GNBA), the New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Theta Psi Lambda Chapter, and the Omega Mu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. 

Each Town Hall involved meaningful discussion with expert panelists while engaging the audience on the importance of voting and why voting matters, the importance of the legal and judicial system and why voting matters, and why local elections matter. Lastly, the Social Action Committee provided an opportunity for community members to register to vote at the voter registration table set up at each Town Hall. 

Photo Courtesy of Denise Cliatt: Jill Johnson, Why We Vote Roundtable Panelist Moderator

Somerset County Town Hall

Social Action Co-Chair, Rev. Dr. Catina Blackmon Jackson, kicked off the event with a warm welcome to the community. Outstanding opening remarks were given by CJA’s First Vice President Nadine Prince-Rosemond followed by the New Jersey State Social Action Coordinator, Dr. Alicia Benjamin-Stennett. Jill Johnson, Social Action Committee member and Co-Chair for Social Action Day at CJA, was the roundtable panel moderator. Jill Johnson is also the Director of External Affairs and Prudential PACs and currently manages Prudential's employee political engagement program including oversight of the company's over $1 million PAC and provided insights as she moderated the roundtable panel discussion.

The Why We Vote Roundtable Panelists were:

  • Toni Hendrix, Second Vice President and Chair, Civic Engagement, New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP
  • Steve Lax, Voter Education Chair, LWV of Greater New Brunswick Area
  • Jonathan White, Vice President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Theta Psi Lambda Chapter
Photo Courtesy of Denise Cliatt: Why We Vote Roundtable Panelists from left to right: Jonathan White, Toni Hendrix, and Steve Lax
Photo Courtesy of Denise Cliatt: Arun Ayyagari, League of Women Voters' Moderator for Candidates Forum 

The Somerset County Town Hall also included a Meet the Candidates Forum where three of the four Somerset County Commissioner candidates participated to share their platform and address community issues and concerns from the public. Those who registered for the Town Hall had an opportunity during the registration process to ask questions of the County Commissioner candidates and those questions were included while the League of Women Voters’ moderator, Arun Ayyagari, moderated the candidates’ forum. There was also an opportunity for those in attendance to submit questions to the candidates while the forum was in session. The candidates had an opportunity to interact with the public at the conclusion of the Town Hall and a candidates’ table was available to share their campaign literature. 

The Somerset County Commissioner Candidates in attendance were:

  • Donald Lemma (Republican) (confirmed)
  • Doug Singleterry (Democrat) (confirmed)
  • Paul Drake (Democrat) (confirmed)

Note: Daniel Gallic (Republican) was invited but he was not able to attend.

Photo Courtesy of Denise Cliatt: Somerset County Commissioner Candidates from left to right: Donald Lemma, Doug Singleterry, and Paul Drake

Social Action member and co-chair of the Voter Education and Engagement subcommittee, Denise Cliatt, delivered the eloquent Call to Action. Detailed voting and election information was shared by Katrina Parker, a passionate Social Action Committee member. Acknowledgements and thanks for all those who made the Town Halls a success was provided by Social Action Co-Chair, Rev. Dr. Catina Jackson followed by powerful closing remarks from Patricia Williamson, the President of Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. 

Middlesex County Town Hall

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Malloy Stephens: Sorority Chapter Presidents from left to right: Patricia Williamson, Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and Dawn Spicer, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Omega Mu Zeta Chapter.

Social Action Co-Chair, Lisa Malloy Stephens kicked off the event with a warm welcome to the community. Profoundly powerful opening remarks were given by CJA’s President, Patricia Williamson and Dawn Spicer, Omega Mu Zeta Chapter President. 

India Lenear, Social Action Committee member and co-chair of the Voter Education and Engagement subcommittee who is a Fourth-Year Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Rutgers University, moderated the roundtable panel discussion. 

The Why We Vote Roundtable Panelists were:

  • Ryan Brown, Chair, Voteless People is a Hopeless People, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Theta Psi Lambda Chapter
  • Andrea Kahn, President, League of Women Voters of Greater New Brunswick Area
  • Bruce Morgan, President, New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP
  • Monica Townsend, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., NJ State Social Action Chair
Photo Courtesy of Lisa Malloy Stephens: India Lenear, Why We Vote Roundtable Panelist Moderator, Member of the Social Action Committee and Co-Chair of Voter Education and Engagement 

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Malloy Stephens: Why We Vote Roundtable Panelists from left to right: Ryan Brown, Monica Townsend, Bruce Morgan, and Andrea Kahn

The inspiring Call to Action was delivered by Loretta Rivers White, the Second Vice President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Omega Mu Zeta Chapter. Voting information, election information, and closing remarks were given by Social Action Co-Chair, Lisa Malloy Stephens.

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Malloy Stephens: Group picture from left to right are the Ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the Why We Vote Town Roundtable Panelists, and the Ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated