Councilwoman Arati Kreibich’s Progress to Congress


Photo Credit: Arati for Congress

Glen Rock councilwoman Arati Kreibich is in the midst of a congressional run for New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District.

by Yethmie Goonatilleke, Staff Writer

Arati Kreibich was a scientist, mom, Glen Rock citizen, and a proud supporter of Congressman Josh Gottheimer in 2018. 

Arati Kreibich is still a scientist, mom, and Glen Rock citizen, but she doesn’t support Josh Gottheimer anymore. She’s running against him. 

Kreibich was born in India and immigrated to the United States at 11. She grew up in Jamaica, Queens. Later, she attended Boston University. She received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. Now, she resides in Glen Rock with her husband, two sons, cat, and dog. 

Kreibich had long been involved in politics, just to a lesser extent. She made an effort to vote and campaign for candidates. But after the 2016 presidential election, Kreibich believed progression was needed. 

Coincidentally, a council position in Glen Rock was opening up. Kreibich ran—and she won—becoming the first South Asian woman to serve on the council. 

“I really bought into this whole notion of local change begins at home, and that if I wanted to make a difference, then I needed to be more involved,” Kreibich said.

Around the same time Kreibich was on the council, Democratic candidate Josh Gottheimer was running for Congress in New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District. Kreibich proudly displayed a “Josh Gottheimer for Congress” sign on her front lawn. 

At the time, she fully supported Gottheimer’s run for NJ5. But that support gradually waned when Gottheimer endorsed actions that were detrimental in Kreibich’s opinion.

In many aspects, Gottheimer has been more moderate than Democratic. Gottheimer supported funding ICE. He did not sign on to the Social Security 2100 Act, which would support seniors and retirement. He is known as an excellent fundraiser, but much of that money is from large corporations. 

Instead of just complaining, Kreibich took matters into her own hands. She announced her campaign for New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District near the end of July 2019. 

Unlike Gottheimer, Kreibich is running a grassroots campaign: a campaign where people and their support serve as the basis for the campaign. She will not accept any corporate or fossil fuel money. 

Climate change and healthcare are two key issues Kreibich wants to push for. She also wants to protect social security and retirement. 

A common misconception about politicians is that they don’t like listening. Kreibich is the exact opposite. Going out and talking to people is one of her favorite parts of running for Congress. 

“The most rewarding part of my job and running for Congress are really the same thing: Being involved and listening to people’s problems and concerns and trying to solve them. Even when I don’t necessarily agree with them, I will definitely listen to why they feel a certain way about the issue,” Kreibich said.

Though it’s rewarding, running for Congress isn’t exactly a leisurely task.

“The hardest part of doing all this? I guess feeling like you don’t have enough time to do everything and making sure you’re trying to do everything,” Kreibich said.

Her office is now littered with posters and papers, all relating to her Congress run.

On top of that, Kreibich is up against an incumbent candidate. An incumbent is an official who currently holds office. She has to fundraise a substantial amount of money. Being a minority could also be seen as a disadvantage. 

It could be seen as overwhelming, but support is what drives Kreibich. 

“It’s been really great to have the support of my family, but what keeps me going is when I’m outside on the street, walking my dog, and strangers come up to me and say things like ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this.’ I’m just lucky enough to have a really great team. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of really great women who do a lot. That kind of sisterhood keeps me going and inspires me,” Kreibich said.

As Kreibich gets inspired, her journey, in turn, inspires her friends, family, and supporters. 

“Hardworking would be a word that carries it all, I’d say. She’s just very inspiring,” Gabbi Krachenfels said. Krachenfels is a freshman, as well as an intern and supporter of Kreibich.

Arati Kreibich went from a neuroscientist to a councilwoman to a candidate for Congress in a little under two years. 

Arati Kreibich was dissatisfied, so she decided to change and take a stand. 

“Just do it. You can be both vulnerable and brave at the same time. Don’t be afraid to fail – that just means you tried and you will learn.”