1. What about your background would make you a good Assemblyperson?
For the past 5 years or so, I worked as the chief of staff and then assistant corporation counsel for Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Among my responsibilities was serving as the lead negotiator, successfully securing the Union Dry Dock site for the purpose of protecting Hoboken’s shoreline eco-system and uniting Hoboken’s waterfront as a contiguous, public park. I also worked closely with the mayor, assisting him and other city officials on a proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic-one that protected Hoboken’s older and most vulnerable residents. Additionally, I helped to negotiate an historic redevelopment project to revitalize the Hoboken Terminal, securing $176 million from the State of New Jersey.
Before working for the mayor, I was an attorney at a law firm that specializes in education issues where I represented School Boards around the state, along with other clients. My interest in education issues began early. A product of New Jersey public schools, I served on the School Board in Old Bridge, my hometown, while still in college and ended up the Board president. I have now returned to that private law practice.
I am active in the Democratic Party, having served two terms as a Hoboken Democratic Committeeman alongside my wife, Tara, as Committeewoman, and now serving as an Honorary Hudson County Democratic Party Vice-Chair.
As an Assemblyman I will put this governmental, legal, and political experience to work every day for the people of Jersey City and Hoboken, and for New Jersey.
2. Have you run for office before?
Yes, I ran for an at large Council seat in Hoboken in 2017, one of 3 Council candidates running together with Ravi Bhalla. I came up just short, finishing 4th out of 14 candidates. I was disappointed to lose, but it was a great experience, one that provided invaluable experience which I am drawing on in this contest.
3. Some people believe that “the line” is unfair and illegal. What is your position on it?
I believe the way it is currently structured strikes the right balance. Political parties have the right to designate the candidates they choose on the primary ballot. Winning the Hudson County Democratic Organization endorsement requires earning the respect of elected officials and party leaders. The political skills needed to do so are the same skills that it will take to gain support for one’s legislative priorities from fellow legislators. Candidates that don’t receive the endorsement but believe strongly in their candidacy should make their case directly to primary voters. Under the present system, that is exactly what they can do.
4. Can you tell us about specific causes you’ve worked on in Jersey City?
Since I am a resident of Hoboken, that is where I have been active in the community I am a long time board member of Easter Seals NJ, however, which is dedicated to serving people with disabilities and their families, helping to provide critical services and opening up opportunities. This is a cause that works to help people and families in Jersey City as well as the rest of the state.
5. What do you feel are the most important issues to Jersey City residents and what would you do to address them?
I will work hard to ensure that Jersey City school children as well as children in the rest of the state receive a quality education, one that prepares them to compete and succeed in today’s economy. Towards this goal, I will strongly advocate for boosting state funding for pre-k so that is available to all Jersey City families. I will also focus on expanding access to health care and improving our infrastructure and mass transit-all issues that are important to Jersey City residents.
6. Do you support the plan proposed for Liberty State Park by the Paul Fireman backed groups “Liberty State Park for All” and “The People’s Park?’
I oppose privatization and commercialization of Liberty State Park specifically and public parks in general. Liberty State Park is a jewel and must be protected for all to enjoy. I support the Caven Point Protection Act and stand with Assemblyman Mukherji and Senator Stack on this issue.
7. Is the overall state and local tax burden on Jersey City residents too low, about right or too high?
The overall tax burden on Jersey City residents is too high. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation in part because it is the main way we pay for our schools. This is a regressive tax, so it hits working class and middle-class residents in Jersey City and other urban areas particularly hard. We must boost state aid to our urban schools, which have unique challenges and are overly reliant on property taxes for funding.
8. Is there anything else our readers should know about you?
I am a fervent New York Giants fan.