The Wessex Wire

The Student News Site of West Essex Regional High School

The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

Social studies scholar turned politician

By Olivia Ritter ’17

In an issue of The Wessex Wire from April 1993, a feature page with the title “Students of the Month” included a picture and quote from Josh Gottheimer, the school’s Social Studies Student of the Month. His quoted caption read, “The History Department has not only stimulated my education here, but has influenced me to pursue a politically-
oriented career.”

Today, 22 years later, Gottheimer is now running for a seat in the 5th Congressional District, which includes a Burgen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties.

Gottheimer’s current run for Congress reflects his own views on the political arena. Growing up in North Caldwell and moving to Wyckoff where he now resides, Gottheimer said he understands many young people’s indifference toward the 2016 election, and he wants to help channel those feelings into action.

“Part of the reason I’m running for Congress is that I’m frustrated, too,” said Gottheimer. “Candidates are more interested in sending an angry tweet.”

Gottheimer credits many of his past West Essex teachers for helping him focus on the political field. One teacher in particular is middle school history teacher Mr. Richard Hochman, who centered lessons on political affairs.

“He would pick an issue like ‘taxes’ or ‘education’ and run to explain the sides: conservative, moderate or liberal,” Gottheimer said. “He made us think critically.”

Outside of class, Gottheimer said his involvement on the Wessex Wire as a staff reporter and program coordinator was also important to his political education. He credited the adviser at the time, Ms. Tina Lane, with contributing to his fervor toward politics. On the paper, Gottheimer “asked the tough questions” about the issues, and Lane inspired him to “fight for the people” and “represent
his constituents.”

“The Wire had a big impact,” Gottheimer said. “We wrote about policies affecting the school and the country.” This attentiveness to the current political climate fueled Gottheimer’s dedication to the issues and what needs to be done to fix them.

It was former New Jersey
Sen. Frank Lautenberg who kickstarted Gottheimer’s political career. As a 16-year-old student at West Essex, he worked as a Senate page and interned for Sen. Lautenberg, and he was able to understand the inner workings of the Senate and familiarize himself with the live political field.

Following high school, Gottheimer attended University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He continued his political based efforts as a speechwriter and special assistant to Bill Clinton and working on several campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008.

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