Two prominent New Jersey Fil-Am Dems up for reelection Nov. 7
JERSEY CITY, New Jersey — Arvin Amatorio of Bergenfield and Rolando Lavarro Jr. of Jersey City are seeking votes that would return them to their respective council seats. Both of them currently hold the title of Council President in their respective townships.
“If reelected, members of the council can vote for me again (as council president),” said Amatorio when interviewed by The FilAm.
The first time he ran for a council seat, Amatorio won right away, surprising some in the Filipino American community who were not familiar with his name.
“Do I have the support of the Fil-Am community now? Humbly, I could say I think so,” he said. “We have done our part as a public servant. Ginawa natin and dapat natin gawin.”
Bergen County, is home to an estimated 15,000 Fil-Ams. The latest census counts more than 5,000 Filipinos live in the boro of Bergenfield, known as “Little Manila.”
Amatorio declared that Bergenfield is in “good financial shape.”
“For the past 15 to 20 years, Bergenfield had no infrastructure to speak of,” he said. “In the last two years, we pushed hard for infrastructure development. Last year we paved 30 roads. This year, we’re doing more than 20 roads. We have repaired handicap ramps for seniors and the disabled. We are repairing 300 sidewalks, repairing sewage systems, automatic garbage disposal, etc. There’s a lot going on in Bergenfield, and the people of Bergenfield can attest to that. There is no day of the week where there’s no construction going on.”
Despite all the services and infrastructure spending, the council’s finance committee, which Amatorio chairs, reported an $8 million-budget surplus.
“That may not mean anything for a big city like Jersey City, but for a small town like ours (it is big),” he said.
In Jersey City, Rolando Lavarro, Jr. is officially certified as a Council-At-Large candidate. He is running for re-election under the banner of Mayor Steven Fulop.
The position of Council At-Large represents the entire city of Jersey City and requires 1,357 signatures from Jersey City voters to be certified as a candidate for the non-partisan municipal election on November 7. More than 4,000 petitions were submitted to Jersey City’s Municipal Clerk certifying Lavarro’s candidacy for reelection, three times more than the minimum threshold for At-Large candidates.
“Thank you to everyone who signed and everyone who volunteered to get petition signatures,” said Lavarro in a statement. “I’m excited to speak with Jersey City’s voters to make the case and ask for the opportunity to serve for four more years.”
Lavarro touts his accomplishments as a tireless fighter for working families and diverse communities. He said taxes have remained stable with no municipal tax increase over the past four years. He said he pushed for safer streets by increasing funding to expand the police force from a record low of 779 police officers to nearly 950 police officers.
He cited a “development boom” in areas around Journal Square, Bergen-Lafayette, and Greenville, which includes the construction of affordable housing.
He said Jersey City has adopted policies in support of immigrants, like Sanctuary City, at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is sweeping across the nation. The city’s diverse population counts 18,000 Filipinos.
Lavarro is the only Asian American to ever hold the At-Large office. He first ran in 2009, albeit unsuccessfully, for the Ward A council seat which represented the Greenville, Country Village, and Society Hill sections of Jersey City where significant numbers of Filipinos reside. Lavarro made history in 2011, successfully besting 15 other candidates in a special election for the At-Large position.
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