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  • Writer's pictureJoe Taylor

The Manchester Democratic Club Renewed And On Fire!

May 8, 2024

Echo Spotlight

Picture Source: Manchester Democratic Club Website


The Manchester Democratic Club existed many years ago, however, as the only thing consistent in life is change, it changed, and time did what time does and eventually the club disbanded. On planned meeting days original members began to be distracted by other interests and eventually the club was no more. 


In 2021 there was a resurgence in interest and the club was given new life, with new very enthusiastic members. In fact, I was so impressed with what I observed I was inspired to join this group of “Democracy Seekers.” The current president, Ms. Christina Edwards, introduced me to the outgoing president, Ms.Kathy Frisch. President Edwards previously informed me that if I wanted to know more about the club, the best source was Ms. Frisch. I was excited to speak with her. I found her to be quite delightful, full of energy, smart and yes, well informed. Kathy was personable and eager to speak with me. I wanted to know about the club, and I wanted to know who this reservoir of knowledge was. President Edwards was correct; Ms. Frisch has a wealth of information.


Meet Kathy Frisch

Already having a heart for activism, what further ignited her fire was an impassioned speech given by a young Senator from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. She became motivated to get involved to one day help facilitate the election of this brilliant young man to the highest office in the land. In 2008, she joined The Ocean County Democratic Organization as an office volunteer and as the County Field Organizer for the Obama Campaign. She joined thousands of excited volunteers across this country in what I can only call a noble endeavor. Thankfully, all the efforts of those campaign workers were rewarded; America was gifted a great president. She speaks with pride as she reminisces sharing the stage with Barack and Michele Obama when he accepted the nomination in May of 2008 in North Carolina. She excitingly talks about the time she shook then Vice President Biden’s hand at a groundbreaking ceremony after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Lodi. 


At the urging of Rebecca, her then 19-year-old daughter, 2012 found Kathy at an orphanage in Moshi, Tanzania. She would spend the next five years living in Tanzania volunteering as a social work consultant with local orphanages. Though she was already politically astute, living in Tanzania gave her a sharpened appreciation for our democracy. She realized the urgency of preserving our democracy. A fire became an inferno, she had to get politically active again.


The Revived Manchester Democratic Club

Kathy Frisch informed this writer that the first public meeting of the renewed Democratic Club was held at the Lakehurst Community Center in November of 2021. Generous donations totaling $225, including some seed money from the Ocean County Dems, helped begin the upcoming year with some much-needed funds.


They started collecting dues in early 2022, and by April they crafted their first set of by-laws which formed the inaugural executive board. Then on May 24th the by-laws were passed, and the first executive board members were sworn in. The first board members were Merrill Aptsiauri, Kathleen Frisch, Dan Staples, Brenda Christian, Christina Edwards, Peter Zitelli, and Phyllis Scharago. The club applied for an official Tax ID number with the IRS and registered as a political action committee (PAC) with the New Jersey Division of Elections. 


The revamped Manchester Democratic Board was on its way to becoming a living breathing organism brimming with the excitement of energetic, intelligent, and willing people. Because Manchester is a republican stronghold, these brave souls had their work cut out for them.


Kathy recalls that interestingly, as the club grew and membership increased, the Lakehurst Community Center became not so accommodating. Was the club’s galvanic growth becoming noticed by the wrong people? Was the excitement that was feverishly attaching itself to the club too much for “some” to bear? At any rate, the Lakehurst Community Center increased its rent from $50 a month to a whopping $500 a month. Perhaps the renewed Democratic club was threatening to upset the status quo in Manchester and its growth had to be upended. The club was forced to find a new location. The summer of 2022 was financially successful, and membership was increasing monthly. The Presbyterian Church of Lakehurst was a Godsend and agreed to allow the meetings to continue in a spacious well-appointed community room. The first meeting at the church took place in July of 2022. 


After hard work and focused determination by the members, for the first time in many years, Manchester residents had a choice for local elections in November of 2022. Alas, there were three Democratic candidates on the ballot for mayor and Town Council; all three candidates were club members. The Democratic Club was seeing the fruits of its labor. Discouraging words from republican members in the community only served to energize club members; the Manchester Democratic Club is a train that cannot be stopped. This club will not rest until true democracy is achieved and both parties are fully represented in local government. Their voices will not be silenced. Quiet, sparsely attended meetings were replaced by excited, determined voices that filled the room. 


While the Democratic candidates did not win, they were responsible for getting a new cell phone tower functional in Whiting, and now a third tower is slated for the Roosevelt City section of Whiting. There was the creation of the Rent Leveling Advisory Board whose mandate is to secure rent control for seniors living in the manufactured home communities, of which there are five. These were issues raised by the Democratic candidates. So, while they might not have won on election day, the entire town benefitted by getting democratic initiatives passed. The new administration could not ignore the activism of the Democratic Club. https://manchesterdems.com/


The club continues to experience growth. With experienced members mentoring the newer ones, this Democratic Club can do nothing but succeed. As I perused the room, I saw that it was aglow with wisdom, experience, and brilliance. I would like to have interviewed more of these concerned members, but time and article length restrictions force me to forego such queries. I am sure there is something vital to glean from everyone present. The energy permeates the walls, and I am sure that one standing anywhere in the church can feel the vibration. Soon the club will be the talk of the town. 


Taking Care of Business

The Strategic Planning Committee wrote the strategic plan, and codified the mission, vision, and values statements which established the club as a partisan club with a defined purpose supporting democratic ideals. Once that was complete, members embarked on a revision of the by-laws. This committee met every week from April to January of 2024, with only a couple of months off over the summer. These by-laws created an expanded executive board of nine members instead of seven and enhanced roles for committee chairs. The group hopes that these changes will encourage its members to take part in some of the many leadership roles offered. The club is emphatic about spreading the word regarding the existence and agenda of the club. It is embarking on an aggressive membership drive to invite the almost five hundred of the nearly 10,000 registered Democrats who live in Manchester to attend a meeting and join the club.


Going Forward

There is still much to do. As the club enters the summer months a myriad of activities is planned. There are plans to increase the membership, enhance visibility of the club in the community, and do the arduous work of identifying viable candidates for the upcoming elections. However, the well-being of the community at large is at the forefront of the club’s mission. The needs of the community come first.


We invite you to see what the Manchester Democratic Club is all about. We invite you to be a part of positive change. The Manchester Democratic Club invites you to be a part of ensuring that democracy is the rule and not the exception. The summer plans are still evolving; if you support democratic ideals, you are welcome.

One of the highlights of the past few months is the swearing in of Christina Edwards as the new president. She prefers to be referred to as the “V.P of Ideas.” The club appreciates her enthusiasm and creative ideas for how it can expand its reach across the county and really make a name for the Manchester Democrats. When one converses with President Edwards her intellect is blinding, her mind is as sharp as an exquisitely crafted razor edge. The Manchester Democratic Club chose well. President Edwards will help guide the Manchester Dems through a maze of republican opposition. However, she has a brilliant and talented board to assist her as they face critical November elections; they are by title:

Vice President -Kathy Frisch

             Treasurer -Robert Colon

             Secretary- Phillis Scharago

Director of Political Affairs- Gloria Adkinson

              Director of Programming- Brenda Christian

              Director of Fundraising- Ken Seda



This Executive Board operates like a finely tuned machine and the chemistry is quite evident. This Democratic Club is destined to change the political landscape of Manchester Township for years to come.


Message from the President

This article cannot communicate the message of the president better than the president herself. Read it in her own words.


“It is with great optimism “we” look forward to one of the most spirited years in recent history, to serve the individuals, families, and businesses of Manchester Township. Our diversity truly is our super-power, and we embrace the audacity of allowing it to guide our focus that is offered as our challenge. 


I pray that we quickly and democratically transform our ideas and understanding of the needs of this magnificent township into viable realities. The charge therefore to each of us, as we get to know each other, in love, is to listen, listen, listen, to know how to encourage and give support.” 


Let’s go MTDC!” 

~Christina Edwards, President, MTDC


You have read a bit of the past of the Manchester Democratic Club. The club is currently preparing for a bright future and would like very much for you to be a part of it. It honors the founding members for their vision and efforts. Without them laying the foundation, perhaps there would be no Democratic Club; current members of the club are grateful. 

 

The next meeting for the Manchester Democratic Club will be held on:

May 14th in the Community Room, Presbyterian Church of Lakehurst, 101 Orchard Street, Lakehurst. Doors open at 5:00 P.M. In addition to a meeting there will also be a special Mother’s Day observance and food will be served. Come out and enjoy the company of good people and good food!!

The Manchester Democratic Club can also be contacted at:


The Manchester Democratic Club encourages all who value democracy to join them in securing a fair and just future for Manchester residents and beyond.




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