U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen visited West Essex Regional High School to talk to A.P. Government students about politics and energy this week.
The congressman told students how his father had been a member of Congress for 22 years and how he enjoyed traveling with him, visiting high schools and colleges. “I always wanted to do what my father did,” Frelinghuysen told students in the high school library in North Caldwell Monday morning. “It was somewhat infectious.”
So the current Congressman said he spends a lot of his time meeting residents throughout his 11th Congressional District, comprised of Morris and parts of Essex, Sussex, Passaic and Somerset counties. During the course of one year, he visits 90 high schools and elementary schools, he said.
He also joked with the students; telling them he is in fact human and that politicians “do not have any super powers.”
Frelinghuysen also talked to students about his election. “When you get elected, you are in a state of euphoria,” he said. ‘You immediately want to get on a committee to benefit your home state.”
Frelinghuysen serves on the Appropriations Committee and as chairman of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. In addition, he is a member of the Subcommittee on Defense and the Subcommittee on Homeland Security. He is also the official liaison between the Appropriations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The congressman told students that he supports nuclear energy. “New Jersey gets 52 percent of its electricity from nuclear power,” he said. And while nuclear energy is growing in popularity in other parts of the world, that is not the case in the United States. “We have not built one (a nuclear power plant) in our country in over 30 years and it is a pretty clean energy source.”
“Nuclear power has to be a part of the energy equation,” Frelinghuysen told students, adding he also supports solar panels and wind power, which make up 7 percent of our energy sources.
New Jersey currently has three pending applications for wind farms off the coast, the congressman said.
On Veterans Day, Frelinghuysen said he traveled to Afghanistan. He spoke about his service in the military when he was drafted 42 years ago and told students that although there is no longer a draft in America, students still need to register when they turn 18 so the government knows where they are.
“Our country is involved in two wars,” he noted. “We are exiting Iraq and somewhat exiting Afghanistan.
One student asked the congressman about Iran and the country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. “They are on the verge of having them,” Frelinghuysen said. “They have received help from Russian scientists and they are working overtime on a nuclear arsenal.”
When a student asked the congressman if he ever planned to run for president, he laughed. “No, it is a God awful job. The presidency is a wonderful privilege, but you have no privacy. You live in a huge fish bowl and everyone knows your business.”
Frelinghuysen also presented Laura Drago, the District’s Instructional Supervisor of Social Studies, Business, Fine and Practical Arts, with an American Flag, which had been flown at the capitol in Washington D.C. on Oct. 5, 2011.
Afterwards, the congressman shook hands with students and met with some of them informally before leaving for his next stop of the day in Caldwell.
Connor Quinn of North Caldwell said he enjoyed the congressman’s presentation. “I thought it was very interesting,” he said. “He made many good points.”