Tired of partisan gridlock in Trenton? Join the club (No, really!)
It’s an exclusive new club that most New Jersey residents, even the most rich and famous, will never have the opportunity to join.
The 218 Club, with a grand total of 16 members, is made up of first-time Assembly representatives — Democrats and Republicans.
Assemblyman Roy Freiman D-Somerset, started the club because he “wanted to get together with the freshmen Assembly people just so we could get to know each other on a first-name basis just to build relationships.”
Freiman said he decided to run for office because of how fractured politics has become. When he got elected in Central Jersey's 16th Legislative District, he asked himself what he could do to affect things in a positive way.
“How do you change the atmosphere? how do you get to know one another so the whole us-them, and division goes away?” he said.
“In speaking with people who had been in the Assembly for a number of years, they would say, 'We used to get together, we used to go to dinner after voting sessions. We’d have drinks and get to know one another.' And those things don’t exist anymore.”
So he started the 218 Club, named in honor of the 218th legislative session in New Jersey.
“I do believe that if you’re part of the problem you also have to be part of the solution. It starts here, it starts now.”
Republican Assemblyman Chris DePhillips R-Bergen, said the 218 Club gives first-time lawmakers the chance to get to know each other “and forge relationships together so we could actually forge some solutions to the state’s problems and sort of break through any partisan divide that may exist.”
Freiman said the club has met only once with a second meeting is planned in the next few weeks, but there is no formal agenda and he expects nothing more than to be sipping coffee and chatting.
“It’s about relationship building. It’s about collaboration. It’s about knowing one another.”