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Primary 2019 - NJ Spotlight Questionnaire

NJ SPOTLIGHT | MAY 20, 2019

The 32nd District includes nine communities in Bergen and Hudson counties: East Newark, Edgewater, Fairview, Guttenberg, Harrison, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, and West New York.

This is the most Democratic district in the state, with 55 percent of all registered voters declaring for the “blue” party. About 11 percent of district voters are Republicans, with the remainder unaffiliated or aligning with a third party.

There is a contest in the Democratic primary. Both Assembly incumbents are on the ballot: Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, an MRI, CT and mammography radiographer specialist who resides in West New York, and Pedro Mejia of Secaucus. Challenging them are Roger Quesada of North Bergen and Mahmoud Mahmoud of Guttenberg.

The Republican ticket includes Ann Carletta of Edgewater, running for the second time, and Francesca Curreli of West New York. 

CANDIDATES IN CONTESTED PRIMARY

NJ Spotlight asked all candidates in contested races to fill out a brief survey about themselves and why they are running. These are the responses we received from 32nd District candidates. 

Roger Quesada

ROGER QUESADA: DEMOCRAT

Hometown: North Bergen

Age: 35

Occupation: eCommerce manager

Family: Domestic partnership

Website:www.pta2019.us

Email/phone: roger@pta2019.us

Why are you running for the Assembly? I’ve been an activist and community organizer for my whole adult life. Social justice has always been important to me, especially as a gay man. The LGBT community has always been a target of harassment and has been treated like second-class citizens. My struggle is the same intersectional struggle as those suffering from oppression for their legal status in this country, for being a person of color, for being a woman, or for being a Jew, Muslim, Christian; there are just so many people that have fallen victim to overt systemic oppression. They’ve been kept from thriving and being happy. It’s antithetical to the values of the country my parents gave me the privilege of being born in.

I’m running because apart from all those identity issues I mentioned, we’re also facing an enormous existential threat with climate change. All the picketing, chanting and marches may not be enough to combat government inaction and political cowardice. The proposed fracked-gas power plant in North Bergen was the last straw for me. I got tired of talking to Nick Sacco, my mayor and state senator, and feeling like he and all my local elected representatives didn’t feel the urgency I did or the one needed for a problem this big. They didn’t listen, so I decided to run. I’m running to save my community and to chip into the global effort to stop runaway climate change.

What are your three top priorities if elected?

  • Number one for me is the urgency of climate-change action. We need NJ to adopt a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects as soon as possible. We need to divest from these energy sources and begin investing, in a smart way, in renewables.

  • Second (although close second) is healthcare. We need NJ to once and for all admit to all its residents that healthcare is a human right that must be afforded to all. We can no longer be the only industrialized country in the world that cannot “afford” to have healthcare for everybody. This needs to be a priority.

  • Number three is affordable housing. We have a serious affordable housing issue in Hudson and Bergen counties, and it’s getting worse. We need investments in transportation infrastructure, but to simultaneously protect residents from being priced out of neighborhoods just because they live close to public transport. There are federal and state subsidies that are available, but all projects need to be considered in a holistic way... We need to look at rent laws and affordable-housing requirements for new urban developments and variance applications.

If NJ would support a Green New Deal, this would cover many of the policy priorities I’m espousing.

What makes you the best candidate? I am truly a people’s candidate. I have a long track record of grassroots activism and I will champion urgent issues that I know our district is demanding we tackle. I will not accept corporate PAC money, fossil-fuel money or any outside influence other than the direct demands of my constituents. The political machine of the future is comprised of the people. If Mahmoud and I win, we will ensure our teams both listen to them and respond accordingly. We will be their voices in Trenton.

 

 

Mahmoud Mahmoud

 

MAHMOUD MAHMOUD: DEMOCRAT

 

Hometown: Guttenberg

Age: 32

Occupation: Community organizer

Family: Single, no children

Education: Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Service

Website: www.pta2019.us

Email/phone: Mahmoudmahmoud11@hotmail.com/(973) 722-6726

Why are you running for the Assembly? I am running for Assembly because I have always wanted to help people. I have been fortunate to hold numerous positions in my professional life where I have been able to support various communities in need. I have worked for the United Nations, the American Red Cross, the Alicia Keys AIDS Foundation, with convicted minors in transition from incarceration, and lead a resettlement program for refugees and immigrants in NJ.

I have also been a community organizer tackling issues around affordable housing, investment in education and safer neighborhoods. I believe my experience and background make me a strong candidate well suited to fight for a secure and dignified standard of living for the people of the 32nd District, and I want to work in the Legislature to bring progress to our communities.

What are your three top priorities if elected? There are various issues in District 32 that need to be addressed. However if I were to be elected, my top three priorities would be affordable housing, transportation, and infrastructure.

Affordable housing — Ensuring that all new developments designate 30 percent of their units as affordable housing. According to several surveys by the federal government, paying more than 30 percent of your income on housing presents a financial burden on households. Residents throughout the district are close to paying 60 percent of their salaries to rent, double what they should be spending to maintain a dignified standard of living.

The government needs to assist those living in the community by requiring developments provide affordable housing in new and existing structures and offering subsidies to those paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, regardless of age or household size. People should not have to choose between finding a place to sleep at night or paying for food or medical bills. People are being priced out of their communities ... and we want to ensure that New Jersey remains a state committed to diversity in income.

Transportation/Infrastructure — Ensuring that we designate significant investment in quality transportation throughout the 32nd District. Studies show that transit-oriented developments translate into improved access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities while reducing commuting costs for the citizens who work and live in our community. The Gateway Tunnel project, connecting District 32 to New York City would improve the standard of living for many citizens who work and commute from this district. This project will increase property values, reduce traffic delays from the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge, and reduce dependency on the Lincoln Tunnel, which was severely damaged in Hurricane Sandy and continues to be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Environment — Hiring a sustainability environmental director for every municipality across the 32nd District and throughout the state of New Jersey to ensure that clean, green energy is included in development and infrastructure projects. We must lessen our dependency on harmful projects like the Keegan Landfill in Kearny, the Toxic Superfund Site in Edgewater, or the North Bergen Power Plant that will not provide energy to the people of North Bergen. New Jersey has a bad reputation across the country for chemical plants and it’s time we brought attention to how much these projects contribute to climate change and the destruction of our environment.

What makes you the best candidate? I believe the primary job of a representative is to listen to their constituents and to find the best solutions for a community. This is why I have spent this campaign knocking on thousands of doors across every city in the district, listening to our residents and learning about the issues that affect their lives. Personally, I have experienced many of the hardships that affect our district, including living off a modest salary that doesn’t keep up with the cost of living, experiencing housing distress, caring for an ailing parent, and an inability to afford decent healthcare.

I understand the difficult decisions that must be made in a household of limited financial means, and I want to work to better the situation of families throughout the district. I believe my professional experience, my life experience, and my courage to speak out and fight for the dignity of all people make me the best choice for the people of the 32nd District.

ANGELICA JIMENEZ did not respond to the survey request.

PEDRO MEJIA did not respond to the survey request.

Our Revolution NJ Endorses the Quesada Mahmoud 2019 Campaign

Our Revolution NJ

The New Jersey chapter of Our Revolution, a Bernie Sanders inspired political action and research group, has officially endorsed the Quesada Mahmoud 2019 campaign for the June 4th Democratic Party primary elections.  Mahmoud and Roger are challenging a system of status quo, politics-as-usual, where the people have often been neglected in an exclusive, insider system. Bernie Sanders inspired a movement of people to not accept the status quo and offers ideas that are far from the mainstream. Young people have been stepping up and running for office across this country and Roger Quesada and Mahmoud Mahmoud plan to be the next wave on June 4th to unseat incumbents Angelica Jimenez and Pedro Mejia.  

“To win elections, the Democratic Party needs a bold progressive vision -- and candidates who are willing to fight for it.”  - OurRevolutionNJ.org

This is exactly what the Quesada Mahmoud for General Assembly campaign is all about - a bold progressive vision and we certainly are ready to fight for what’s right. Our slogan, People. Transparency. Action. we feel is the right formula for the kind of change needed in Hudson and Bergen county. The mission of Our Revolution is to “Support local progressive candidates and other activist groups that are dedicated to bringing transformative, progressive change to our politics, our environment, and our daily lives by bringing transformation to the Democratic Party”, and that’s what we intend to do.

Our Revolution will provide logistical support where possible to grow the reach and impact of the Quesada Mahmoud campaign. Together with the political network of this grassroots progressive movement, the intention is to build a movement to win this campaign all together. The Quesada Mahmoud Campaign teaming up with Our Revolution New Jersey, will partner to reach and inspire more people to take collective action to make a change in the political process.

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Mahmoud Mahmoud and Roger Quesada for NJ General Assembly They are running because they think the people of NJ need working class champions of environmental, social and racial justice in order to thrive. They want to embolden voters to take collective action on the things we all care about through transformational change in government.

For more information, visit www.pta2019.us, www.facebook.com/quesadamahmoud, and www.instagram.com/quesadamahmoud/

Election day for the democratic primary is Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Keegan Landfill Protest

Kearny community members and leadership will discuss urgent health and environmental priorities.

Kearny, NJ -- Residents of Kearny have been suffering as a result of noxious hydrogen sulfide gas emanating from the Keegan Landfill, which is owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA).  As Gov. Phil Murphy continues permit operations, residents are responding to the health and environmental crisis now.

Residents, town officials and environmental activists will host a protest and then march to demand clean air and the ability to raise their families in a safe and healthy environment. Additionally, to let Gov. Murphy know that landfills do not belong near communities and the state’s continued operation of the Keegan Landfill poses a public-health and environmental emergency.WHO: Mahmoud Mahmoud and Roger Quesada for NJ General Assembly 2019

 

WHAT: Gov. Phil Murphy’s inability to act immediately in permanently shutting down this landfill is forcing the communities members to protest the health-hazard and environmental emergency the Keegan Landfill poses.

 

WHEN: Saturday, April 27 from 11:30 am EST

 

WHERE: Kearny Public Works Department 357 Bergen Ave, Kearny, NJ 07032

 

We will join this protest in complete solidarity with the residents of Kearny. We will be part of the discussion around the health and well-being of our Kearny residents, but also serious environmental harm the Keegan Landfill is continually causing. NJSEA has been issued multiple violations by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The community and mayor have had enough and are demanding that the serious health concerns be given the political will it demands to shut this landfill down. It is in very close proximity to residences, an elementary school and one of the most active recreational fields in town. Join us to support this substantive protest.

"I find it appalling that in 2019, we still have a government that doesn't find the issue of toxic air pollution a major priority. Why do we need people to start getting sick and dying to then react? We need to be proactive! We need to shut this landfill down immediately and remediate the environmental problem." - Roger Quesada

”This project has cost taxpayers 30 million dollars for 21 employees, most of which are not from Kearny. Governor Murphy hasn’t shown the political will to do what’s right on this matter, which is harmful to our climate and is an injustice to the people that have to bear the brunt.” Mahmoud Mahmoud

 

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Mahmoud Mahmoud and Roger Quesada for NJ General Assembly  They are running because they think the people of NJ need working class champions of environmental, social and racial justice in order to thrive. They want to embolden voters to take collective action on the things we all care about through transformational change in government.

For more information, contact the Anny Martinez  at anny@pta2019.us

Quesada Mahmoud 2019 Statement on Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey

Twelve states and Washington DC already issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants as a matter of public safety. However, in NJ in an election year in which all 80 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs, the issue of providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants is still being treated as a touch and go issue. The Quesada Mahmoud campaign stands by this being an absolute human rights issue. There’s an argument to be made about the safety of all New Jerseyans including the 466,000 undocumented immigrants of driving age. NJ Policy Perspective has published figures saying the proposal would bring $9 million in revenue to the state in the form of registration and licensing fees. At a time when the state is in dire need for additional revenue, this legislation could serve as a tangible manner to access those much needed funds for the state.

Furthermore, not taking action to secure legislation A4743 sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, and state Sen. Joe Vitale, which calls for allowing New Jerseyans to get a “standard” license that would allow that person to then get car insurance and protect them from having ICE target and forcefully eject them from the country for minor offenses has a profound impact on immigrant families. We need to protect families from being separated, which causes immeasurable harm to children. Penalizing immigrants for license privileges is not just a matter of public safety, it is also the kind of financial abuse that impedes on their ability to provide for themselves and their families. This type of license can only be used for lawfully driving a vehicle, so they can’t use it for documentation for anything else like an airport or a federal building.

Yesterday, our opponents Angelica Jimenez and Pedro Mejia had a press conference in North Bergen to announce their recent support of this legislation. The years spent silent on this issue has devastated countless immigrant households. For several years, democrats have been claiming they want to help our undocumented on this important public safety issue but continue to drag their feet while we continue to put NJ drivers at risk and lose out on enormous tax revenue. The democratic party continuously makes promises to the community during election season, but obstruct and lack real political will when the opportunity to act is at hand. The immigrant community is tired of the democratic party standing with them when it is politically convenient and being absent when it comes to action. We find the lack of moral clarity to act is dangerous and reckless to all New Jersey residents. Even on a national level, presidential candidates in the last 15 years have all catered to the immigrant vote promising immigration reform in the first 100 days, but never delivering when they had the chance. Now, under President Trump, we are all witnessing the very painful consequences of that decision.

Immigrants are an important part of our American heritage and over the centuries, we have partially built this great state of New Jersey off of the dreams and aspirations of those born of foreign lands. Over the decades, the United States, through both Democratic and Republican leadership, made it increasingly difficult to have a “path to citizenship”. Today it is increasingly expensive and difficult to become a United States citizen. Quesada and Mahmoud are both sons of immigrant families and wholeheartedly understand the quintessential roadblock that this kind of bill would knock down for so many struggling to achieve the American dream.

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Mahmoud Mahmoud and Roger Quesada for NJ General Assembly  They are running because they think the people of NJ need working class champions of environmental, social and racial justice in order to thrive. They want to embolden voters to take collective action on the things we all care about through transformational change in government.

For more information, visit www.pta2019.us, www.facebook.com/quesadamahmoud, and www.instagram.com/quesadamahmoud/ or contact Anny Martinez at anny@pta2019.us

 

Election day for the democratic primary is Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

Quesada Mahmoud 2019 Release Joint Statement on Earth Day

Guttenberg, NJ: April 22, 2019. For Immediate Release

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Quesada Mahmoud 2019 Release Joint Statement on NJ Marijuana Legalization

Guttenberg, NJ: April 20, 2019. For Immediate Release

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United Progressives Release Joint Statement Regarding Tax Day

Guttenberg, NJ, Release: April 15, 2019. For Immediate Release

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Quesada Mahmoud Campaign Release Joint Statement Regarding EDA Mismanagement

Guttenberg, NJ, Release: April 9, 2019. For Immediate Release

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Roger Quesada and Mahmoud Mahmoud Announce Their Candidacy for the 2019 NJ General Assembly Election

Guttenberg, NJ, Release: March 27, 2019. For Immediate Release

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