JCT: Have you ever run before for elective office?
JR: No. I am a first-time candidate.
JCT: Can you tell us how you came to be endorsed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization for one of the Assembly seats in Legislative District 32? Did the HCDO approach you or vice versa?
JR: I had mutual friends and shared professional acquaintances with both Assemblyman Mukherji and Mayor Fulop, who were generally aware of my passion and interest in public service, and Mayor Fulop and Raj approached me and asked if I would be interested in running for office. Thereafter, I had an opportunity to further discuss the possibility of running for assembly in the 32nd District by having meaningful conversations with Chairman Vainieri and other leaders of the HCDO. After serious consideration and thought, I advised Mayor Fulop, Assemblyman Mukherji and leaders of the HCDO of my willingness to run if given the opportunity. I was honored to learn soon thereafter that I received the endorsement of the HCDO.
JCT: Have you ever spoken at a meeting of the Jersey City Municipal
Council and, if so, what about?
JR: I have not spoken at a City Council meeting.
JCT: Can you tell us about specific causes you’ve worked on in Jersey City?
JR: As a contract attorney for the Public Defender’s Office, I represented and assisted indigent clients and juveniles, including several from Jersey City and Hudson County. While serving as the managing attorney for Catholic Charities’ Immigration Program, my service to the undocumented population, defending individuals’ rights to seek asylum and fighting family separation included clients in Jersey City. That experience helped me realize that there was a shortage of and need for attorneys who speak Spanish.
JCT: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish for Jersey City in particular?
JR: Building on Assemblyman Mukherji’s record and drawing on his experience, I will fight hard to ensure that Jersey City and other urban areas get their fair share of state funding and that the needs of our residents as well as those of Hoboken and other urban areas are prioritized. This includes reducing overcrowding on NJ TRANSIT buses, securing more affordable housing, addressing women’s health issues, and meeting the needs of working families.
JCT: What is your position on the development proposed for Liberty State Park by the Paul Fireman backed group “Liberty State Park for All”
JR: I oppose privatization and commercialization of public parks, including Liberty State Park which is a national treasure. I support the Caven Point Protection Act and stand with Assemblyman Mukherji and Senator Stack on this issue.
JCT: What about your background would make you a good state assemblyperson?
JR: I am a zealous advocate in the courtroom, which has helped prepare me to be a zealous advocate for Jersey City and Hoboken in our state’s capitol. Throughout my legal career, I have advocated for immigrants, children, sexual assault victims, aggrieved consumers who were victims of abusive business practices, and other vulnerable citizens. I am passionate about fighting for the underdog and the underrepresented.
JCT: What do feel are the most important issues to Jersey City residents?
JR: The people of Jersey City – like so many Americans – are concerned about paying rent and making their mortgage and property tax payments, about the impact of inflation, and about public health after the pandemic we all endured. Women in Jersey City are concerned about the government encroaching on our bodies. I think students in Jersey City are worried about how they will afford college – like I was as a first-generation law student who immigrated from Puerto Rico at the age of 8 – and the threats to the environment and the condition of our planet. Seniors in Jersey City are worried about not having enough saved up for retirement. These are issues of concern to me and my 32nd district running mates.