1. What about your background would make you a good County Commissioner?
As a former diplomat from the Philippines, I fully understand the impact of and sacrifice for public service engaging with culturally diverse communities. Pursuing the rule of law as a lawyer in various jurisdictions, I have developed a deeper sense of what justice demands and what circumstances permit. From building a career in my country of birth to raising my family in my country of choice, I have overcome adversities while embracing the emotional middle ground of excessive skepticism and exaggerated hope.
2. In a largely Democratic area, how, as a Republican, do you plan to attract Democratic voters?
I fully trust our voters’ commitment to citizenship that they can look beyond party affiliations and sincerely measure up our individual qualifications and character on who can best serve our county’s constituency.
3. Some people believe that “the line” for party endorsed candidates is unfair and illegal. What is your position on it?
I am willing to look into ways of evaluating the impact of the county line on election outcomes and addressing the concerns that adversely affect the expression of the will of voters.
4. Can you tell us about specific causes you’ve worked on in Jersey City?
I have been involved with the Philippine American Friendship Community (PAFCOM), a non-profit organization based in Jersey City that nourish closer relationship among Filipino-Americans as well as with other American multi-cultural communities to achieve a more neighborly community life. It promotes deeper understanding and welfare of the immigrant communities. It organizes the biggest annual parade and festival in Jersey City highlighting Filipino culture and heritage.
5. What do you feel are the most important issues to Jersey City residents going forward and what would you do to address them?
Among the important issues facing Jersey City are the adequate tax evaluation of home owners and businesses; an effective Economic Development plan for our main streets using resources from Urban Enterprise Zones to help our small businesses; support for our County Sheriff Office along with local law enforcement and State Police; a productive negotiation for a first class health care institution in the city; efficient support for the welfare of our children and senior citizens; and a better plan for affordable housing taking into full account different available grants. Addressing them is the art of the possible. To determine what is possible, we need to listen; because it is only in listening that we can discern what is acceptable to the people, and therefore, a viable solution.
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 acknowledge the need for creating sustainable recreational opportunities that can coexist with the park’s natural environment. We need to hear from all stakeholders and work together.
7. Are Jersey City property taxes too low, about right or too high?
Jersey City property taxes are about 1.76% of the value of the property while 1.4 to1.5% percent was the norm. It will be prudent to work on legislation to mitigate heavy reliance on local taxes to fund the city’s budget needs.
8. Is there anything else our readers should know about you?
After earning undergraduate and law degrees from the University of the Philippines, I began my legal career as a litigator in Manila. I practiced there for several years before deciding to join the Philippine Foreign Service. I worked my way up the ladder as a career diplomat with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs engaging in policy development for political and economic cooperation in Southeast Asia. I was initially posted in Australia where I spent much of my time helping the very large Filipino expat community address problems and concerns with labor, employment, and immigration issues. I earned a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Australian National University in Canberra, and gained admission to practice as a solicitor in New South Wales, Australia. My next posting was in the United States, where I served as Consul of the Philippine Consulate General in New York. As Consul, I was the senior legal officer responsible for helping distressed Filipinos on their employment and immigration issues, among others. I also supported the efforts of private lawyers pursuing employment-related class actions. I was admitted to practice as a lawyer in the state and federal courts in New York. I obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA Nanyang Fellows) from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Australian National University. Since returning to private practice after years of government service, I have used all of my experience to help clients resolve their legal concerns to protect their welfare and promote their productivity.