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Gottheimer opens Vernon office, meets residents at Hampton Diner
The newly elected Democratic member of the House of Representatives spent Saturday morning in Sussex County, first holding a "Cup of Joe with Josh" breakfast event at Hampton Diner and then officially opening a satellite office in Vernon.
Though the crowds changed at each location, Gottheimer's message didn't: "We want you to know you have access" to the congressman.
"This is what I always wanted from my congressman. I wanted to make sure I knew that if I had an issue I could bring it up," Gottheimer said after the ribbon cutting of his office in the Vernon Municipal Building. "Being accessible for them is a critical part of the job."
The Vernon office -- which will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays -- is Gottheimer's second in Sussex County. He opened his Newton office on Spring Street in January. The Newton office has hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gottheimer also has offices in Glen Rock, Hackensack, Ringwood and Washington Borough.
"It's going to be easier access for him to reach our constituents," Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway said. "Josh is going to have a very busy schedule in D.C., but at least we don't have to travel to Glen Rock or Newton to talk with a staff member."
Gottheimer told the roughly 80 people in attendance at the Vernon Municipal Building that his staff has cut about $2,000 a month in rent, comparing his offices to those of his predecessor, Scott Garrett.
But the main thing he stressed was that he was in Vernon to listen to the people no matter their issue.
"I'm here to listen and then help. I don't care if it's a pothole, I'll call Harry to fix it," Gottheimer said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
In addition to having offices located across the district, Gottheimer has hosted a handful of meet-and-greet events at district diners, called "Cup of Joe with Josh."
"I think it's important for people to have a chance to bring up whatever issues are on their mind. As their representative in Washington, I'm here to make sure people are able to meet and speak with their member of Congress," he said.
Close to 100 people filled a side room and more at the Hampton Diner in an effort to catch Gottheimer's ear.
"I'm here to make sure he knows he's being held accountable," said Zach Stephens, of Hamburg.
Elizabeth Nelson, of Newton, and Wendie Goetz, of Frelinghuysen, said they attended Saturday morning's event because it was their duty as citizens.
"Town halls are good for large issues, but this allows you to speak one-on-one on smaller issues," Goetz said.
Goetz and Nelson said they spoke to Gottheimer regarding single payer health care and that he seemed to be receptive to the idea.
Rita Sullivan, of Columbia, said Gottheimer "made eye contact and made a real effort to listen" while going from table to table in the diner.
Discussions ranged from ways to lower taxes to people asking that the Affordable Care Act not be repealed in its entirety without some sort of solution to fix it, Gottheimer said.
"That's why we have an office here," Gottheimer said. "We're bringing the government to them so that if they have an issue they know where they have to go."