With President Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory and Republican attempts to roll back reproductive rights for women around the country, Lisa Mandelblatt ’86 said she felt compelled to run for congress.
Mandelblatt is running to unseat Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) in the state’s seventh district in the 2018 congressional election.
While at Cornell, Mandelblatt was a government major who served as the president of the sorority Sigma Delta Tau, but she believes her passion for public service began during her semester outside of Ithaca, during the Cornell in Washington program.
In an “eye-opening experience,” she interned for Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.).
“Back in 1985, I worked for Congresswoman Schroeder while participating in the Cornell in Washington program. She was fighting back then for reproductive rights and we are still fighting for them today,” she said.
After graduating Cornell and practicing law with a degree from Fordham Law School, Mandelblatt got involved in local community efforts in Westfield, New Jersey, leading the parent-teacher organization at her children’s elementary school and becoming a board member at her temple.
Mandelblatt says that the incumbent, who voted in favor of a 20 week abortion ban, plays a key role in “eroding” reproductive rights fought for by politicians like Schroeder.
Looking ahead to her race in 2018, she is encouraged by the high turnout in her hometown of Westfield, New Jersey in last week’s New Jersey election.
“53 percent of people showed up in an off year election, whereas in 2016, it was 58 percent,” she said. “So that’s really good, and [New Jersey] should be seeing those numbers every election.”
Mandelblatt decided to fight to preserve affordable care on a national level, after witnessing the “real consequences” to New Jersey families of Governor Chris Christie’s policies as the “first governor to defund planned parenthood.”
“Sexually transmitted diseases are up in the state, by an average of 35 percent,” she said. “There are very tangible consequences for defunding planned parenthood.”
Mandelblatt cited her belief that more women should be represented in congress as “another motivator for [her] candidacy.”
“It is high time that we elect more women to Congress, when I was working for Congresswoman Schroeder she was one of about 25 women in congress,” she said. “And we’ve made strides since then, but it should be 50-50.”