JERSEY CITY – On a crisp, radiant day, as spring ushers in its first Saturday of the season, Rolando Lavarro stood outside of his newly opened campaign headquarters on the corner of 1757 Kennedy Blvd. and Cator Avenue.
The 38-year old Filipino American Jersey City Council candidate representing Ward A was all smiles, eagerly grasping a hand to shake, welcoming and guiding folks to the door of his campaign’s operations center.
They were Filipino, American, Italian, Irish, African American, or Latino — it didn’t matter if they were young or old, rich or poor — all that mattered was their interest in this young man’s dream to become a public servant of Jersey City.
Put on view in one large window pane was a poster of Lavarro donned in dark suit against a background of white and green appropriately symbolizing his message of change and hope. A change one can see in the quality of life in Jersey City and a hope for a future which change represents.
As sun rays faded a bit past high noon, a tunnel of light was projecting to Lavarro’s poster on the window pane as if it were highlighting and echoing the words he said at the launching of his candidacy:
“This election is not about me. It is about the seniors, about the parents and their children and Jersey City residents – young adults like me who grew up in Jersey City but are considering leaving town.
“They want to leave town because taxes, crimes and schools don’t make it reasonable for them to continue staying here. It is about a City Hall that has lost touch with its people and whose voices have not been heard. This election is for all those voices and the people of Jersey City.”
These words are truly inspiring and uplifting – words spoken by someone who cares about the city; words spoken by someone with a belief in translating these words into action, and a commitment to serve all the people of Jersey City not just Filipino Americans. And words spoken by someone determined to win the elections with the whole-hearted support of everyone.
Inside the office, a bevy of volunteers meticulously decorated and organized the place, prepared food and beverages for guests who were coming, and readied the sound system – everyone working like a clock work in a manner that was not done before.
As people started coming in and as all seats were getting filled, and with an overflowing guests that extended outside the office, it was time for the man of the hour – candidate Rolando Lavarro — to welcome everyone to his campaign’s “clubhouse,” as he calls it.
His signature smile was evident and he spoke clearly and confidently to his audience without traces of weariness of door-to-door, block-by-block, and day-to-day campaigning which he and his volunteers have been doing more than a month ago. He was energetic, enthused by the rousing applause and cheers of his supporters.
“I welcome you all to this clubhouse,” he began, “a place which is a testimony of the encouragement you have shown me and the 2009 Manzo Team. Our journey continues and this is a place we all could be in to take back City Hall. As I said before, this election is not about me… it is about all those voices that have not been heard this past four years.”
Lou Manzo, mayoral candidate, took the cue from Lavarro and reiterated the problems that needed to be addressed such as crime, taxes and affordable housing.
The lack of foresight by the Healy administration and their failure to keep their previous campaign promises to the people who voted them into office is also a concern, Manzo said.
“Our team is the most diverse team this city has ever had because we know that everyone has been affected by the failures of the current administration.”
Manzo also mentioned the Operation CeaseFire, which he sponsored as an Assemblyman in the State of New Jersey.
“The only way to stop crime is through the CeaseFire approach with community policing, cops on corners night after night arresting people recruiting gang members and leaders and having alternatives there for kids who are at risk, including jobs, job training programs and giving them other things to pick up like computers, books and tools rather than guns,” he said.
Manzo introduced the other candidates in his slate: Joseph T. Cassidy and Betty Outlaw, candidates for council-at large; James King, Ward C candidate; and James Carroll, Ward D candidate. Each one spoke briefly highlighting their respective experiences and plans to implement the vision of Manzo for Jersey City.
At the end of the short program, Lavarro called for more volunteers to join him during the campaign and urged everyone to visit the “clubhouse” to sign in for the much needed assistance.
“We must stay resolute in this historic campaign and defining moment in our community. We need you; this is our time,” he pleaded.
Meanwhile, a Cocktail and Buffet Reception for Rolando Lavarro and 2009 Team Manzo will be held on April 2 at the Trump Plaza West on 88 Morgan Street, 7th Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey. The fundraising event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end by 9 p.m.