Why I'm running for Freeholder
My name is Aissa Catherine Heath and I am running for Freeholder in Union County, New Jersey. It’s not a decision I ever anticipated; politics can be brutal, with many people going into politics for all the wrong reasons. Policy that is based on facts and data often gets overruled by the desire to hold onto power. The voice of a single-parent trying to take care of her children is drowned out by the same old platforms that haven’t worked but promise to work the next election cycle.
I’ve lived in Elizabeth, NJ my entire life and grew up seeing my mother struggle to take care of my siblings and I. Despite the adversity that defined my life, my belief to make a difference in this world from a young age was protected by my mother. As I grew up, she fought to get me into better schools, to enrich my understanding of this world with books and experiences, and pushed me to persevere even when the odds weren’t in my favor. Graduating from Elizabeth High School, I took a step into higher education at Union County College. There, I would develop my leadership skills by taking officer positions in various student organizations while working with my EOF counselors, who guided me to graduate with an associate’s degree in Business.
This eventually led me to Rutgers University – Newark, where my experience as a student and employee would give me a front-row seat into the realities of politics that have left the average person in the rear-view mirror, with outdated bureaucracy suffocating the educational opportunities of students and stifling the growth of workers. I worked anywhere between 25 to 60+ hours trying to make enough money to fund myself through college and support my family where I could. At one point, I was working three jobs and found myself overwhelmed by past due assignments and long work hours. I couldn’t think or feel, let alone see graduation within sight. It was only through the support of college staff, my supervisors, my friends, my family, and God that I was able to strike a balance between work, school, and organizations that I held leadership roles in.
No matter how much I struggled, no matter how many responsibilities I had resting on my shoulders, I kept going, because making it to graduation wasn’t just an event for me, it was a milestone signifying the collective efforts of my mother, my family, and my community to get me there. For every tear I cried, my mother cried a thousand more, doing what she could just to keep our family afloat working 50+ hours a week while trying to support my two siblings with mental illnesses. I wish I could say my family is an isolated situation. I see so many of my friends, co-workers, and neighbors share similar experiences: overworked, underpaid, and in debt trying to do what we were put on this earth to do: to live. I see my mom in the faces of people who have voiced their frustrations to the people with power, only to have their voices shushed or silenced. I’m running for office because my mom is tired of fighting and if she is tired, then so is everyone else. I’m ready to pick up the mantle and continue the fight for a better future where people come first.