JERSEY CITY, NJ – With barely 13 days to go before voters cast ballots, Filipinos organized a Pulongbayan (town meeting) to shore up a unity of support behind the re-election of Filipino American Rolando Lavarro and Team Steven Fulop. Lavarro is running as Councilman-At-Large and Fulop is seeking a second term as mayor.
Despite heavy rains, a mix of Filipinos and folks from Jersey City came to hear and watch the genial and energetic Mayor Fulop speak before them at the Golden Door Charter School auditorium. In his remarks, Fulop noted that the Filipino community had the power to influence the outcome of the elections and that they should apply it.
“You have the strength of the Filipino vote if it were used collectively,” he said. “Are you ready to get out and vote on Nov. 7 for the entire Fulop Team?” he asked. And the audience gave a ringing response: “Yes…”
For his part, Lavarro spoke about the strength of Team Fulop if the whole Fulop slate got into office. “It would be less difficult to pass legislative proposals,” he said.
Lavarro was elected for a second term as Councilman-At-Large on June 11, 2013. He was voted in for a two year term as council president. Initially, at a special election in November 2011, he became the first Filipino and Asian American in the history of Jersey City to serve on the municipal council.
Lavarro has his roots in Jersey City, growing up in the Greenville neighborhood where he still resides with his wife and daughter, Gabriela. He is the son of Filipino doctors Rizalina and Rolando, Sr., who immigrated in the late 1960s to the U.S. He attended St. Paul’s Grammar School in Greenville; Preparatory High School in downtown Jersey City; and graduated from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree.
He is committed to continuing to build coalitions and working with diverse groups in the community. A vocal proponent of the Fight For 15 campaigns to boost minimum wage in New Jersey, he sponsored legislation establishing and expanding earned sick days. This legislation provides paid sick time for most people working in Jersey City. He also has enacted wage theft protection, protecting workers of Jersey City businesses against unscrupulous employees.
In addition, Lavarro’s accomplishments include legislation enabling farmers markets, banning smoking in City parks, and establishing the first Immigrant Affairs Commission in the state of New Jersey.
His priorities include diversity in police and fire hiring, job creation, affordable housing, protecting immigrant communities, safeguarding healthcare, and fighting for working families.
Fulop was elected 49th mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey on May 14, 2013 defeating mayor Jeremiah Healy. He was formerly the Councilman for the city’s Ward E. He served as a councilman for eight years before becoming mayor.
Many, including Filipinos who live here – estimated at 15,000 to 20,000, believe that during his time as mayor, Fulop has shown what progressive leadership can accomplish.
Under his leadership, Jersey City became the first city in the state – and the 6th city in the country – to ensure paid sick leave. Steven has pioneered innovative ideas for helping prisoners re-enter society; he has passed legislation to protect small businesses; encouraged more to open shop; made Jersey City one of the greenest towns in the nation.
Fulop has undertaken sweeping public safety reform; the Jersey City Police Department is now seen as a model for diversity around the nation. And he has led the city to record economic development that has benefited families of all income levels. All without raising taxes.
Fulop said under his watch, development, which largely took place downtown and along the waterfront under previous administration, has moved to other parts of the city.
Bill Matsikoudis, a lawyer, hopes to unseat Fulop. Matsikoudis had served in the administration of Gov. James McGreevey, including as an assistant counsel to the governor and a senior deputy attorney general. He became corporation counsel for Jersey City in 2005 under former mayor Healy.
Team Fulop is composed of: Mayor Steven Fulop; For Council-At-Large- Rolando R. Lavarro, Joyce Watterman, Daniel Rivera; For Ward Council: Ward A – Denise Ridley; Ward B – Mira Prinz; Ward C – John Hannusak; Ward D – Moriah “Mo” Kinburg; Ward F – Jermaine Robinson.