My name is Sean Stratton I am a 24 year old environmental scientist and I am currently running for New Jersey District 18 Assembly as the Green Party candidate. I’m here to talk to you about my political platform and the experience of running as a young adult and third party candidate.

I decided to run for office 5 months ago after a friend’s tap water test came back containing 82 ppb of lead. This led me to research the federal Lead and Copper Rule along with conducting Open Public Record Act requests (for anyone not in New Jersey this is called Freedom of Information) to my hometown and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. What I found was that my hometown was not sampling the correct locations as per the federal regulations and they were not providing the correct notification to residents who had their homes tested. From this I began to look at other towns and found that we have multiple towns and cities here in New Jersey that have breached the federal action level for lead in residential drinking water. 3 examples are Newark, Trenton, and Milltown. This is significant because even during the height of the Flint Michigan crisis, Flint never exceeded federal standards.

This is when I decided I would run for office; I believe that everyone has the right to clean drinking water and in order to provide this we need to drastically rebuild our infrastructure including our water distribution system. I also believe that every worker deserves a livable wage which is why I support increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour here in New Jersey. Finally, I believe that all citizens no matter how rich or how poor have the right to healthcare. I support universal healthcare and will push for a New Jersey single payer healthcare system.

Want to get involved? You can check out my Facebook page or Nationbuilder:


EDIT: Wow! 7 hours and I definitely got way more questions than anticipated! Was great talking with everyone and I definitely learned a lot! Remember to vote in your state and local elections, they're important!

Comments: 1396 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

spyronos1011 karma

As an elected official you will be requested to vote on a plethora of topics, almost certainly the grand majority will have no bearing on your single stance. How can you fairly represent your constituents in these matters as a single issue platform? Not to mention, as someone your age, how can you justify to others that you have the experience to accurately and effectively navigate the political world to get your agenda passed?

Stratton4Assembly312 karma

If I would be fortunate enough to win, I would hold no outside interests other than my constituents. As I've said before I take no corporate money. I would work with various leaders of the community including the local mayors, to ensure that all bills that I vote yes too would not have a negative impact on the community. I would also fight everyday on the Assembly floor for my constituents.

I understand that many people feel I am not qualified due to my age. I have formal education at a 4 year school, and I also am not afraid to ask experts questions when I do not have an expertise on the topic. One of the hardest things to do is to admit that one does not know everything, and I fully understand that I do not have all the answers. This is why it is important to build relations with experts in individual fields to gather their professional opinion.

NsRhea82 karma

Out of curiosity, would you take money from unions?

Stratton4Assembly180 karma


serrol_463 karma

What jobs have you held that qualify you as an environmental scientist, and how long were you in that/those position(s)?

Also, how do you plan on paying for the programs you are supporting in your OP?

Stratton4Assembly710 karma

I graduated from Rutgers University with my degree in environmental science. I have been working as an environmental consultant since graduating which has been about 2 and a half years. My work mainly consists of monitoring contaminated sites and designing remediation strategies.

Fixing the lead problem is a costly project. However, in the short term we can provide filters and bottled water for residents that are impacted through subsidies or partnering with corporations or small business owners.

In the long term by passing Universal Healthcare we will free up between 20-30% of each municipalities budget. This will allow us to begin massive infrastructure projects to remove and update our piping and water utilities for our towns and cities.

State-level universal healthcare will be paid for by an increased payroll tax of 6% on employers and 2% on employees. This will allow us to provide healthcare to all residents of New Jersey.

NerdySmurf74 karma

So more taxes for NJ residents, who are already taxed to death? It’s the biggest reason I had to move out of the state.

Stratton4Assembly134 karma

It would be an increase in payroll taxes, however the money individuals would save from decreased healthcare costs and free insurance would far outweigh the negatives of the increased tax on payroll.

Do_Ya_Like_Dags_43 karma

How will passing universal healthcare free up budget?

Stratton4Assembly67 karma

Currently Municipalities have to pay for the insurance of the town employees. This is a significant portion of a town's budget as it is between 20-30%

LookingforBruceLee23 karma

What is your plan once Universal Healthcare doesn't pass?

Stratton4Assembly40 karma

To keep fighting for Universal Healthcare. We may not be successful the first time around, but there is no need to give up. I believe this is something worth fighting for.

TheAardvarker73 karma

The lead in the water sounds like a real issue, but I don't agree at all about the minimum wage or healthcare. What can people do about cleaning up the water without voting for you?

Stratton4Assembly82 karma

The first step would be holding their local representatives and civil servants accountable. Constantly reminding them that it is unacceptable to have lead in our water is a good start

grackychan9 karma

I live next to Milltown so this is alarming. What has the DEP done in response to your findings?

Stratton4Assembly19 karma

The DEP issued a letter to my hometown notifying the water utility that they must send updated notification to residents. As per Milltown and other cities I am not currently aware of any actions by the DEP.

coryrenton63 karma

Have you thought of running as one of the other parties to get a larger platform?

Stratton4Assembly79 karma

The closest my agenda is to the two parties would be the Justice Democrats. However, based on their ties to big corporations I would not run as a democrat because I do not want to take any corporate money as the only people I want to represent are my constituents.

gwhh58 karma

Why are all tree huggers socialist? Can’t you be a deep red capitalist and be a tree hugger?

Stratton4Assembly96 karma

I believe that environmental policy is a non-partisan issue. If elected I would be more than happy to work with any party and representatives to implement environmental protection. At the end of the day, environmental health is human health. What we breathe and what we drink directly affects our health.

aleishapaige35 karma

You are very passionate about the lead and water infrastructure problems your state is facing. Are there any other environmental issues that you plan on attacking?

Stratton4Assembly31 karma

Other issues include PFOA's in our water, along with overuse of pesticides. I also plan to push to near 100% renewable energy by 2035.


You may take this is as a multi-part question if you wish; they are all in a similar vein:

  • 1 What is your position on nuclear power, as a[n efficient and proven] means of combatting GCC and carbon emissions, until renewable sources can be utilized efficiently ?

  • 2 What are you doing to combat the Green Party's stance on Nuclear Energy, (which amounts to fearmongering IMO), despite its low deaths/KwHr even compared to solar and wind?

  • 3 What would you put forward to improve the state of nuclear power in NJ?

E: formatting

Stratton4Assembly10 karma

Sorry for the late response. The green party's current position on Nuclear energy is to phase out Nuclear energy as we get to 100% Alternative. As we push towards complete renewable energy, fossil fuels plants will be eliminated first, and Nuclear power plants will be taken offline as we build up enough renewable power infrastructure.

I will not push for more Nuclear Power here in New Jersey.

justscottaustin32 karma

While possibly a competent environmental science, do you have even the least idea what a state assemblyman does?

Stratton4Assembly35 karma

Yes, I fully understand the responsibilities of a State Assemblyman

PuppyNubblies29 karma

If elected, what would you do in your first few months?

Stratton4Assembly42 karma

I would put forward a bill to immediately provide water filters to residents in areas that are currently having their drinking water impacted by lead, and I would begin working on a bill with bi-partisan support to rebuild our aging infrastructure which would include not only our roads, and bridges, but also our waste water treatment plants, our water distribution network, and our water utilities.

cuteman23 karma

What kind of water filters?

Stratton4Assembly42 karma

The water filter depends on the contaminant that you want filtered. I recommend a filter that has been approved by the NSF. NSF is an agency that peer reviews filters to make sure that what the filter company claims is true.

For lead I would recommend a filter that is approved by the NSF to remove 99% of Lead concentrations

cuteman21 karma

Do you have an example of appropriate filters and their approximate cost?

Stratton4Assembly36 karma

The price is between $30 and $40 and it mainly depends whether you want a faucet mounted filter or a pitcher filter and what brand.

I don't want to say a specific brand but if you search NSF certified lead filter you should be able to find a couple different choices.

cuteman6 karma

Do Britta or Pur pitchers work?

Stratton4Assembly27 karma

Only if they have the NSF logo on the box and states that it filters lead

vs38726 karma

What resistance have you faced from opposing candidates?

Stratton4Assembly77 karma

I haven't faced direct opposition from other candidates. I've been mainly just ignored. The main resistance has been from the media. I haven't had any coverage talking about my platform or my ideas so it has been difficult reaching a wider audience.

J0llyR0ger22 karma

What have you tried to do in regards to helping fix our drinking water situation?

What is the average age of people you are running against? I applaud you for standing up for something at such a young age!

Stratton4Assembly26 karma

When I first stumbled on the drinking water situation I immediately began conduction more research through Open Public Records Act requests and I wrote an assessment of the current deficiencies of my hometown in regards to the Lead and Copper rule. This assessment was reviewed by Dr. Marc Edwards and Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, two Virginia Tech scientists who did a lot of work in Flint, Michigan. I sent this report to my local town council along with my mayor. In addition I contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection along with EPA region 2 and notified them of these deficiencies.

I then began looking into other towns/cities and found that lead was a serious issue in Milltown, Newark, and Trenton. I have walked the streets of Newark passing out information about the elevated levels of lead in drinking water, and on August 16th I protested with gubernatorial candidate Seth Kaper-Dale outside the NJDEP's office over their lack of response to our lead crisis.

I have written and called numerous reporters along with Senator Booker's Office, and I will continue to contact our representatives and reporters no matter what the results of the election are.

askingquestionslike22 karma

Do you have any strong feelings about university's in New York as compared to New Jersey?

Stratton4Assembly19 karma

I agree with New York's legislation that provides free education to residents who earn less than $110,000. I believe that New Jersey should move towards a free college education program because it is an investment in our youth.

Mr-Yellow18 karma

Will you survive having your dreams crushed by reality?

Stratton4Assembly20 karma

Yes. I believe that this will be an uphill battle, but just because its hard to make change doesn't mean its not worth fighting for it.

askingquestionslike16 karma

How do you feel about suits as athletic wear? In all seriousness, I'm sure you are very aware of the climate issues that are endangering the future of our species. Do you have any plans to combat climate change either directly or indirectly?

Stratton4Assembly13 karma

I want to push New Jersey to near 100% alternative energy by 2035.

ROBOTN1XON10 karma

as a hydrologist who is studying water law in Colorado, I find your water goals to be noble. I do wonder how do you plan to remedy these in instances where water contamination comes as a result of the pipes within a private residence? would you be for a national effort to support upgrading underfunded communities pipes? How much of the GDP do feel is appropriate to address issues of water quality?

Stratton4Assembly8 karma

Contamination within an individuals home is a serious issue, however we need to put a program into place to help residents get lead solder/ lead pipes out of individuals home. I believe it is the government's responsibility to protect it's citizens. At the moment I do not have a number for what portion of the GDP is appropriate.


have you spoken with, or would you consider speaking to, local municipalities and plumbing experts on action plans? What sort of solutions are you pushing for? would you be for a government contract or contest system for cheap retrofitting solutions?

Stratton4Assembly5 karma

I have spoken to my hometown's water utility. They do not believe there is a problem and that is mainly because the state agency is not raising the issue of lead with local water utilities.


can you clarify what they stated? did they say there simply wasn't a problem with city owned pipes? or did they say the private area wasn't an issue? [or did they not fully answer the question]

also, why don't cities/governments advise residents about what type of pipe they should consider installing OR give options to setup an additional filter system where the city line meets the private connection?

Stratton4Assembly4 karma

It is a mixture of both. The town stated there are no lead service lines which is inaccurate, and the DEP is not properly reviewing to ensure that the correct Tier locations are being sampled as per the LCR by the town.

A filter system where the city line meets the private connection would not work, mainly because these lines are inaccessible from the surface. I recommend filters at the end of the tap or through a pitcher.


how would you propose filters be paid for? At some point local government can only be held responsible for providing water at a pre-determined quality. If cities were able to effectively argue that they provided proper service in courts, who would be footing the bill for all the filters? would people be required to buy them?

It sounds like there may or may not be lead service pipes in your particular town, but in some towns there probably are. Some infrastructure is so old that the people who authorized those decisions are long gone, and made the wrong choice innocently. considering water utilities are essentially self-funded and use long term bonds for future demand projects, can municipal water suppliers even afford to address this situation if they caused it? Could courts even rule against them because of the national economic impacts the ruling would have? it seems more like federal or state level assistance would be needed to fund a solution to this issue. I don't think municipalities are capable of fixing this one fiscally speaking.

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

I agree that the federal and state governments need to step in and assist communities that have been affected. This is not just a New Jersey or Flint problem, this is a problem that is occurring all over the country.

Idahomi36 karma

If elected, how do you plan on passing any of your proposals without an coalition behind you?

Stratton4Assembly7 karma

Well arguing against clean water is rather hard to do. Hopefully constituents will force their representatives to vote in their favor

Idahomi39 karma

Wouldn't such a push be happening now? Differently put, why will you be the driving force behind a policy change?

Stratton4Assembly4 karma

We still need someone in the Assembly or Senate to start the push

Idahomi36 karma

What has stopped the push from happening? A lack of awareness? And if so, why do you think citizens will start to care if you are elected?

Stratton4Assembly8 karma

The first step is educating the public there is a problem. I believe once the public knows there is a problem they will start wanting the problem solved.

Idahomi35 karma

Good man. I'm not convinced, but I love your enthusiasm.

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

Thank you


I’ve worked with the Green Party in my state and I’m wondering how you feel about their organizational capacity. Here in Maine there is no accountability or structure to speak of, anybody can make statements on behalf of the party with no oversight, and there isn’t any work being done to educate members about leftist ways to effectively combat climate change, capitalism, or any other issues. It’s honestly kind of a shitshow free-for-all where nothing gets done. Many of the Maine Greens felt like the party wasn’t supporting real leftist policies and splintered off and joined expressly socialist organizations like the Jacobins, International Socialist Organization, and the DSA. Do you feel like the GP has the ability to successfully run a candidate and support them both during the campaign and after they (hopefully) get elected?

Stratton4Assembly5 karma

I started off as the environmental adviser to Seth Kaper-Dale, Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate. Him along with the Green Party have been very supportive of me. I believe we do have the ability to run candidates and win elections.

Steeple_of_People4 karma

What's your stance on NJ & RGGI? How about nuclear subsidies for Hope Creek, Oyster Creek, and Salem?

Stratton4Assembly12 karma

I believe that putting a cap on carbon emissions from the power sector is an important step in reducing carbon emissions. However, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative doesn't address the environmental justice issue of where these carbon emissions occur which are often in lower socioeconomic areas. If elected I would put forward legislation similar to RGGI, however I would make sure that lower socioeconomic ares are not taking an unfair proportion of the pollution that would be emitted.


I would make sure that lower socioeconomic ares are not taking an unfair proportion of the pollution that would be emitted.

WADR, I have two issues/questions regarding that.

I would make sure

How would you make "sure"? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say you would "put forward some legislation toward that goal"? And even if so, what sort of legislation and ensuing enforcement mechanism would/should be used toward this goal?

that lower socioeconomic ares are not taking an unfair proportion of the pollution

What exactly is "an unfair proportion", and how would this unfairness be measured?

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

You are correct I would put forward legislation to protect marginalized communities who have faced an unfair proportion of pollution.

amuzmint4 karma

How did you get involved with the party?

Are they helping you?

How does one sign up and run for a district?

I was hoping to do something similar in California so any tips?

Stratton4Assembly6 karma

I started off by volunteering on Seth Kaper-Dales campaign. Based on the work I was doing I decided to run because I see environmental issues as very important. PM me and I'll try to help you out.

marzipanrose3 karma

Do you worry about the lack of privacy that running for office brings? The idea of people rooting around in every aspect of your past to defeat you sounds like something most people would prefer not to deal with.

Stratton4Assembly10 karma

It is a concern. However, if nobody else is going to run to represent environmental concerns and to protect citizens from contaminants than I'll just have to deal with people rooting around my past

LeChevalierMal-Fait3 karma

How do you justify the 3rd party spoiler effect?

Stratton4Assembly13 karma

I believe that in a democracy voters have the right to have multiple choices. I also believe that voters should vote for who they feel will best represent them, whether that is a republican, democrat, a green, libertarian, or an independent.

gpsclayman2 karma

Do ypu beleive that climate change deniers shoild be jailed?

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

No, just because they are misguided does not mean they are criminals

simendem2 karma

Are you against water flouridation? I actually notice that my tap water negatively affects my mental health and I have to buy bottled water. A lot of people like to say if the water was bad, they would notice it but most people are deficient in Vitamin E and don't notice that either. They just need coffee to make it through the day and a glass of mind numbing alcohol at the end of the day. Nothing unusual about that!

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

Water Fluoridation is not currently in my platform

askingquestionslike2 karma

If you were in office right now, what would you be doing to aid Puerto Rico?

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

I would ask the rest of the assembly and senate to pass a relief bill to send emergency work crews to Puerto Rico to help with whatever the local government needs.

Refusetoreddit2 karma

Any advice for anyone wanting to be an E. Scientist? What is your fave part of the job?

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

Shoot me a PM. My favorite part is being able to make a difference in people's lives

askingquestionslike2 karma

In light of the recent Equifax hack, would you be willing to submit legislation that makes credit freezes and thaws free in NJ?

Stratton4Assembly4 karma


Willziac2 karma

I'm in a similar situation (27yo environmentalist) that has considered running in my state (IN). Do you have any advice for other young people that want to get into government without any other political experience?

edit: Words

Stratton4Assembly4 karma

Just find what you're passionate about and keep fighting for it

veganveal2 karma

How did you do in Boikess' orgo class? Forget lead. That alone nearly killed me.

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

I passed

Redditrons_Roll_Out2 karma

What was involved in the journey from a citizen to a potential representative?

I am a chemist in the tobacco industry and whenever anyone asks what I want to do, I describe what you are doing. The US government needs the scientific method.

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

The main motivation is water quality. I raised my concerns with the deficiencies in my hometown along with surrounding towns and cities with the NJDEP and EPA over lead. I feel that the current virtually non-existent response is not enough to protect citizens which is why I am running to help protect public health.

vey3232 karma

NJ is prime real estate for offshore windfarms, but the bureaucracy has been dragging their feet. Bird migration and scenic views should not hold up progress. What is your stance on offshore windfarms, how hard will you push to make that a reality?

Also, I didn't see much of a platform on your links. What are your stances on the myriad of political issues affecting NJ - illegal immigration, gun rights, budget issues, corruption, etc?

Full disclosure: I am not in your district.

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

I believe solar and wind are important aspects of moving to alternative energy. I support building offshore wind farms.

I support Universal Healthcare, the creation of a public bank, increasing affordable housing, increasing education funding, ending mass incarceration including legalization of marijuana, and rebuilding infrastructure.

Meritania1 karma

I have recently graduated as in environmental studies and have enrolled in a graduate program for environmental policy making for a think tank, which is a position that has its ups and downs.

My question is, in your experience what was the greatest hurdle you have faced and how did you overcome it?

Stratton4Assembly1 karma

The greatest hurdle is convincing people lead and drinking water is a serious issue. Most people don't believe this is a serious issue and they point to lead dust and lead paint as a much bigger issue. I am still trying to overcome this hurdle and break through the media to let people know that there are serious issues with their water.

The link below is data compiled by the NJDEP you can use it to sort through water utilities here in New Jersey and see their lead testing results:

jackcykalyat1 karma

Do you have a G O O D B O Y E or G O OD G I R L E as a pet?

Stratton4Assembly2 karma

I have a jack russel, I like him

MrTubalcain0 karma

Very noble of you. I wish they would pump millions into your campaign like they do for far right or even slight left candidates. Im starting to get the feeling that the other two parties just don’t care and there job is keeping the status quo in place. They’ll play lip service and be offended but as far as action they won’t do anything. States, cities, and various municipalities are generally corrupt, inept, bureaucratic, etc. If you were to be elected how will you actually change anything?

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

I believe change comes from public pressure. If we can build awareness around environmental issues such as clean water, and have constituents demand their representatives to help them, I believe that change will begin.

TheFlyingPanda192 karma

What do you say to people who don’t believe in climate change?

Stratton4Assembly3 karma

I try to show them the evidence, most of the time this does not work so I pivot my argument that decreasing carbon emissions will not only help with climate change but will also help with eliminating airborne pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses. This is important as it protects human health