Name: Sarah R. Neibart
Current Political Affiliation: Republican
Current Role: Committeewoman, Mendham Township
Other Employment: Deputy campaign manager for Bob Hugin for U.S. Senate
Hometown: Mendham Township
Education: University of Wisconsin Honors Program with a B.A. in political science and a certificate in Middle Eastern studies
Volunteer/Organizations: Founder and president of Citizens for Accountable Taxation Inc. CAT seeks to educate New Jersey residents on our highest-in-the-nation property taxes and the growing problems posed by these excessive taxes. Board member of the Spring Street Community Development Corp. SSCDC seeks to improve the quality of life for Morris County families by addressing economic, educational and social needs while preserving the cultural and ethnic diversity of the area.
ROI-NJ: Why and how did you first enter into politics?
Sarah Neibart: As someone who is familiar with many of the discussions and policy proposals happening in Trenton over the years, I have become increasingly concerned and frustrated with the property tax crisis. It has become difficult to keep families in Mendham Township, in Morris County, and even in the state of New Jersey. I believe there is a lot that can be done on the municipal level to lead the way for our school boards and our state to follow through on our commitment to reduce property taxes. When I was asked to fill an unexpired Township Committee term, I realized that if I chose to live in a particular community for the rest of my life and am passionate about the problems that exist in our community, I should be willing to serve it and to work towards making it a better environment for our children.
ROI: What were you most surprised by in the political arena?
SN: How divisive the political arena has become over the last few years.
ROI: Has your age helped or hindered you in your political endeavors?
SN: My age has impacted both my professional career and my position on the Township Committee. I believe that this is the result of a gross underestimation of my generation, and, together with my millennial peers, I plan to change that perspective with our actions.
ROI: What advice would you give to young people considering entering politics? Young voters?
SN: Get involved with the organizations that you are passionate about, and follow your gut. Regardless of party, you matter, your voice matters and your vote matters.
ROI: What are the issues you are currently most passionate about?
SN: Working towards lowering property taxes, increasing shared services between communities and supporting our first responders.
ROI: What issues do you believe resonate most within your age group?
SN: Affordability is, first and foremost, the biggest issue facing my age group today. Our extraordinary property taxes significantly impact not only homeowners, but renters as well. Renters pay property taxes indirectly through higher rent because landlords pass along those costs to their tenants. Combined with student debt and the other financial burdens on the backs of young people, New Jersey is no longer an affordable place to live.
As a result, millennials are leaving New Jersey faster than any other segment of the population. The Press of Atlantic City reported earlier this year that, “New Jersey lost a net of 183,591 millennials from 2007 to 2016 and that high school seniors and young adults aged 18-24 accounted for 58 percent of that.” New Jersey residents, especially millennials, simply cannot afford to live here anymore.
We need young people to stay in New Jersey. One way to do that is by empowering them to be part of the solution and working to fix the affordability crisis in our state. However, with rising taxes, particularly property taxes, it is becoming more and more difficult to encourage young people to remain here.
ROI: Have you had much experience reaching across the aisle in this time of divisiveness? Do you currently have thoughts about this on a nationwide level?
SN: Absolutely — as an example, I recently established an Ad Hoc Shared Services Committee between Mendham Township and our bordering municipalities, with the goal of making our communities more efficient and affordable for our residents.
On a broader level, no two people will agree on every issue; everyone brings their own perspectives. Having stakeholders with varied life experiences at the table helps us come to more nuanced and thoughtful solutions.
ROI: Let’s talk about the importance of local politics.
SN: One voice can change the trajectory of a conversation — one vote can truly make a difference. Local politics is about the communities directly around us, and getting involved is an incredible way for individuals to make change where it is needed.
ROI: How do you balance your political responsibilities with that of your current employment?
SN: While my political responsibilities and my current employment both stem from my desire to help make New Jersey more affordable, my work with the Hugin for Senate campaign is focused on replacing an ethically-challenged career politician with a Marine Corps veteran and proven job creator that our state can be proud of. As a Mendham Township committeewoman, I am focused on listening to the needs of our residents and doing everything in my power to help make our community the best that it can be.
ROI: What is next for you in politics? What is your ultimate goal?
SN: I am focused on the upcoming election this November.
Read ROI-NJ’s other Q&As with young politicians:
- Elton Armady (D), councilman at-large, Plainfield
- Aylon Berger (D), assistant to the campaign manager for Mikie Sherrill for Congress
- Jason Cilento (R), councilman, Dunellen
- Alyssa Dawson (R), councilwoman, Westwood
- Giancarlo Ghione (R), chairman of the New Jersey Young Republican Federation
- Stephany Kim-Chohan (D), councilwoman, Highland Park
- Bill Moen (D), freeholder, Camden County, and Southern New Jersey director for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker