2016-08-03 / Home

South Jersey residents energized after participating in the DNC & RNC

By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff


Haddonfield resident Karin Elkis, on left, and Susan Bass Levin of Cherry Hill were Hillary Clinton delegates at the DNC in Philadelphia. Haddonfield resident Karin Elkis, on left, and Susan Bass Levin of Cherry Hill were Hillary Clinton delegates at the DNC in Philadelphia. Susan Bass Levin first met the Clintons in 1991 when Bill was first introduced to New Jersey Democrats as a presidential candidate contender.

Bill was impressive, she recalled. But she also thought that Hillary would someday make a great president.

“I left hoping there would come a day when we would elect a woman president, and I hoped it would be her,” said Bass Levin, who was the mayor of Cherry Hill at the time.

Still, she said, she wasn’t prepared for the emotional storm that hit her when—some 25 years later—she cast her delegate vote for Hillary during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week.

“It was just a peak experience for me,” said Bass Levin, a veteran of Democratic conventions since 1996. “It was exhilarating, emotionally uplifting and inspiring. I didn’t expect to be quite so moved but I was watching history; I was part of history.”


Ed Kline, of Margate, was a New Jersey delegate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Ed Kline, of Margate, was a New Jersey delegate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. For Bass Levin and other South Jersey residents taking part in both the DNC and the Republican National Convention the week prior in Cleveland, much of the democracy in action took place behind the scenes.

Haddonfield resident Karin Elkis, who has been involved in state politics for more than 30 years and attended nine conventions, was a whip this time around, responsible for ensuring that New Jersey’s 145 voting delegates participated correctly. It was a busy job but still enabled her to share the convention experience with her daughter Lara Weinstein, 23, a recent George Washington University graduate who was involved as a staff member for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).


The New Jersey Delegation kicked off the DNC with a party aboard the Battleship New Jersey. Pictured are (from left) U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Jen Fleisher, Delegate Susan Bass Levin, and Cherry Hill Township Council President Dave Fleisher. The New Jersey Delegation kicked off the DNC with a party aboard the Battleship New Jersey. Pictured are (from left) U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Jen Fleisher, Delegate Susan Bass Levin, and Cherry Hill Township Council President Dave Fleisher. “I’ve seen things evolve and change for women and know it’s going to be so different for my daughter,” said Elkis.

“It’s not just breaking the glass ceiling,” she said. “We need someone powerful to solve our nation’s issues and she’s so qualified. It’s more than I just got to vote for a woman. I think our country is going to benefit from her compassion, drive and understanding of human nature.”

Bass Levin added that she was confident in Hillary’s commitment to Israel and issues important to American Jews.

“Hillary Clinton is a true friend to Israel, and to the Jewish community, and I know we can count on her,” she said. “On social issues, education, equal pay for equal work, domestic violence, gun safety laws and other issues that matter to the Jewish community, Hillary Clinton has been fighting for these issues all of her life and will make these issues front and center in her administration. How many presidential candidates talk about children’s health? As Jews, we care about these things—not just for our own children but for all children.”

Margate resident Ed Kline, who attended the RNC as a Donald Trump delegate, sounded equally energized after the Republican event.

“It was a learning experience,” he said, noting that he enjoyed talking to people from across the nation as one of the 250-strong New Jersey delegation. He said his fiancé Gert, who accompanied him, devoted much time to asking delegates from other states about their views on Israel and Jews.

A former mayor of Brigantine, he says he is confident that Trump is a champion for Israel.

“I have known the man for 35 years,” said Kline, who is active in the Jewish community. “He always appoints or hires qualified, smart people. I feel he will pick people with experience. When it comes to Jewish issues, one of his closest advisers is his daughter, who has converted and married into a very Jewish family. I think he will be good on Jewish issues or else his daughter will smack him around!”

Doug Stanger, a Northfield resident who is vice-chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Philadelphia region, went to the first night of the DNC representing the ADL along with two staffers. (ADL also sent representatives to the RNC, though none from the Philly region.)

“ADL has been busier during this election than in any other election in recent memory,” he said, noting that even during the convention the organization was grappling with the issue raised by hacked Democratic Committee emails suggesting that certain members of the committee considered portraying Sanders (not mentioned by name) as an atheist in order to make him seem less attractive to certain voters. But despite this flap, Stanger said his experience was overwhelmingly positive.

“It was very exciting to be there,” he added. “There appeared to me to be tremendous unity and excitement from the people there. It was interesting to see the diversity of the individuals.”

(Voice at the Shore Editor Ellen Weisman Strenger contributed to this story).

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