Growing up in North Caldwell, Josh Gottheimer’s childhood was similar to that of most Jersey kids. Josh’s mom was a nursery school teacher. His father started their own business in his basement when he was just 18. Owning their own business meant some years were better than others, but Josh’s parents always sacrificed, so that their children never knew about those struggles.
For Josh and his sister, family trips to the Jersey Shore were the highlight of the summer. He saw his first Bruce Springsteen concert at Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands. And, at sixteen, Josh got his first job stocking inventory at his father’s store to start saving for a car. Josh’s dad’s business didn’t have an official slogan, but it easily could have been “work hard” and “give back.” They were the two phrases Josh heard most from his dad.
After graduating from West Essex High School, Josh went on to the University of Pennsylvania, became a Thouron Fellow at Oxford, and then paid his way through Harvard Law School.
It was during Josh’s freshman year of high school that Senator Frank Lautenberg passed legislation banning smoking on all airplane flights, igniting Josh’s passion for public service and teaching him that one person could make a difference. It’s also why, in high school, Josh applied to be a Senate page for U.S. Senator Lautenberg, and then, in college, went on to intern for Speaker of the House Thomas Foley.
After graduating from college, Josh was hired to work in the White House for President Bill Clinton as one of the youngest speechwriters in history. Josh helped draft two State of the Union Addresses, wrote extensively on the economy, and served as a Special Assistant to the President until the end of the Clinton administration.
It was a different time in Washington. Working for President Clinton, Senator Lautenberg, and former Speaker Foley, taught Josh that you don’t have to compromise your values to find common ground. Folks in Washington may have disagreed on aspects of policy, but, first and foremost, they were there to work together and to find a path forward for the people they represented. That is how you find solutions to our toughest challenges and it is exactly the approach Josh will take in Congress. Washington must, once again, put people first and solutions first – not partisanship and not extreme ideology.
Josh’s approach is to offer sound, reasonable leadership: live within your means, work across party lines, make sure programs work and fix those that don’t, and support an economy where opportunity for all is a reality. And always — even in the face of tough challenges — work hard, work together, and find a way to get things done. At the end of the day, if an idea is a good one for the country and for a community, nobody should care which side of the aisle it came from.
Josh’s professional experience gives him a unique perspective that combines a knowledge of business and public service.
Prior to announcing his candidacy, Josh was General Manager for Corporate Strategy at Microsoft, where he worked on the cutting edge of technology, innovation, and management. Prior to Microsoft, Josh served as Director of Strategic Communications at Ford Motor Company, where he helped rebuild the image of America’s iconic car company. He was also a senior advisor to the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and published the book Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches.
Josh also served at the Federal Communications Commission and was its first Director of Public-Private Initiatives. The goal of the initiatives were simple: Rather than overregulate technology and telecommunications companies, government should partner with them to break down the barriers to new investment and job creation – all in the pursuit of solving national challenges.
Through these partnerships, Josh helped put digital textbooks in classrooms, helped law enforcement infiltrate the growing black market for stolen cell phones, and helped bring back thousands of tech support jobs back to America – all without an ounce of regulation or a nickel of taxpayer dollars. Josh also served on the team to develop automated text warnings for missing children and severe weather.
After his time at the FCC, Josh used that experience to help create Connect2Compete and then JerseyOn, a not-for-profit organization, that brings affordable high-speed Internet access to low-income students in New Jersey, so they can compete and win in the digital economy.
Josh has also taught history at the University of Pennsylvania and was a visiting fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. He is on the Rutgers Business School Advisory Board, founded Business Forward in the state, and is a member of the New Jersey and Ridgewood Chambers of Commerce. Josh is also a member of AIPAC.
Fiscally responsible and socially progressive, Josh is an energetic leader who will bring a new sense of commitment and involvement to the Fifth Congressional District. He will focus on bringing more jobs to the district, improving our crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels, repairing the tax code, and, overall, delivering common sense solutions. He will reach across party lines to find common ground. In short, Josh will deliver on his family’s legacy of hard driving toward solutions — working together, promoting opportunity and responsibility, and getting things done.
Josh lives in Wyckoff, NJ with his wife Marla, a former federal prosecutor, and their two young children Ellie and Ben. Ellie just started first grade and Ben is in pre-school and, just like their dad, the highlight of the summer are still those trips to the Jersey Shore.