Both a politician and volunteer, Newton Mayor Helen Le Frois visits FDU
While speaking at Fairleigh Dickinson University on March 29, Newton Mayor Helen Le Frois answered a question she often receives: how does she work in both government and nonprofit sectors?
By Kenna Caprio
Blending the mindset of politician with that of a volunteer, Newton Mayor Helen Le Frois has firmly established herself as someone who cares in Sussex County.
Le Frois addressed students, faculty and staff on March 29 in Lenfell Hall, Hennessey Hall, speaking about working for a nonprofit, serving as mayor and looking to “strike that work-life-volunteer balance as a steward of the community.”
Though she was a political science major at University of Southern California, Le Frois didn’t get involved locally until she and her husband bought a home in the historic district of Newton, New Jersey.
While working on their new house, Le Frois realized she had to go before the historical committee to make certain changes to the home. While before the committee, she ended up asking so many questions that she was told to just join. So she did. From there, she volunteered at her children’s school and then decided to run for town council.
During the campaign for town council, in which Le Frois ran alongside a female friend, she received an email from a local man saying that he had seen their signs and wanted to meet the “two young men making a stink in town.” Le Frois rose to the occasion and wrote back, explaining that she and her friend were both women. They ended up receiving the man’s vote.
“(It’s) my opinion that we need more women in politics,” she says, citing statistics about female politicians in New Jersey: out of 566 municipalities, there are only 75 female mayors are serving.
She also stressed the idea of “servant leadership,” and focused on letting constituents know that she didn’t have plans to “sit on a dais in Newton and mandate,” as she campaigned for mayor.
Next up for Le Frois is her campaign for Sussex County Freeholder.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved, whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat,” says Le Frois of politics.
“I love when I walk into a council meeting and the room is full — that means people are involved,” she says. “It’s so much easier to walk by someone with a smile than someone who is trying to close the door on you.”
Le Frois spoke in Lenfell Hall, invited to present in PublicMind’s “Politics on the PublicMind” series and as part of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s celebration of Women’s History Month.
'Politics' will resume next fall, in October, with campaign advertising as the series' theme. Stay tuned for dates, names and location!