1. What about your background would make you a good Assemblyperson?

I was born and raised in the 31st Legislative District, which I am running to represent. Therefore, I can relate to my neighbors and their experiences here, because I have walked the same neighborhoods, driven the same roads, shopped the same stores, and attended the same schools, as they have. Through our shared experiences, we know what works well here and what we do best, but we also know where we can do better.

I will bring my career experience in the banking, finance, technology, and real estate industries, as well as my experience in balancing budgets as the Treasurer of a large cultural association and a landlord/property manager, to the State Legislature. In order to balance budgets, business leaders focus on cutting expenses and improving efficiencies, before we even consider raising revenue by increasing prices to the end consumer. Taxpayers expect the same from our lawmakers. Our leaders have to learn to respect our hard-earned tax money, by making hard choices that will improve government efficiencies and provide more services with less tax dollars. I will bring that philosophy with me to the NJ General Assembly.

I will work hard to:

  • Make sure our tax dollars are spent prudently and help prevent tax increases;
  • Prevent and reduce crime by encouraging more police and community engagement in our most vulnerable neighborhoods;
  • Help improve our educational system by focusing more resources on curriculum-based learning, such as math, reading, and writing skills;
  • Help reduce or eliminate administrative red tape that hampers homeowners from improving their personal residences or rental properties and prevents or delays small business owners from opening or expanding their businesses;
  • And, improve housing affordability in the State of New Jersey, whether you own or rent your home.

2. In a largely Democratic area, how, as a Republican do you plan to attract Democratic voters?

Up until about a year ago, I myself was a Democrat. However, I have seen over the years how the party has completely changed; it has become a party that is more concerned with ideology and making lofty pie-in-the-sky promises instead of delivering actual results for the people. Because the party has dominated local politics for decades without much organized opposition, our Democratic leaders have been largely left to do what they wanted without any serious checks and balances, and unfortunately we have seen the devastating results. We may have some shiny new skyscrapers and apartment buildings thanks to millions of dollars in long-term tax breaks for wealthy developers that the politicians like to call progress, but our problems on the ground still persist. We have some of the highest taxes in the state and the country, increased crime and urban blight, crumbling roads and other infrastructure, segregated communities, local government red tape that seems impossible for homeowners and small business owners to navigate, and a public education system that consistently ranks in the bottom half of the state, despite the huge amount of money that is allocated to the schools (about 50 cents of every local tax dollar).

Democrats and Republicans want the same end results, and most of us are reasonable people. There is more that unites us than divides us. We have no problem putting country, state, or town above party. If we see that an individual candidate is the better option, then we will cross party lines to vote for that person. Here in this area, there is a silent majority of us who believe that our local government is broken and no longer works to serve the people, and we are well aware that it is the Democratic party that has had control over our local government for decades, and we know that the party has failed us. The Democratic establishment is less concerned with delivering results and more concerned with holding onto power, creating entrenched political machines with party bosses, and discouraging outsiders from running for office. This prevents the free exchange of ideas and severely hampers democracy, while simultaneously holding back the progress of our local area. The Hudson County Democratic organization has gone unchecked for too long. Even Democrats know this, as there are Progressive Democrats running in the primary against the establishment candidates. It is about time that an alternative rises up in the form of a strong, well-funded opposition party.

3. Some people believe that “the line” for party endorsed candidates is unfair and illegal. What is your position on it?

It is not illegal for a political party to hold a primary contest to choose a candidate to run and represent the Party in the General Election. However, it is unfair that a political party, especially the Hudson County Democratic Organization, is able to hand-pick its candidates going into a primary. In Hudson County, we do not hold elections, instead elections have become selections, where local and state party bosses determine who will receive the party’s support, financial war chest, and political endorsements. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone besides the party leaders to determine who will hold political office. Newcomers are not welcome, as we see happening in the current Democratic primary now, where the Hudson County Democratic establishment has already selected their preferred candidates over the Progressive Dems who are challenging the status quo.

I myself had this experience two years ago when running in the Democratic Primary for Mayor of the Town of Kearny. Beyond the insurmountable task of running against an entrenched 22-year Mayor who created his own political machine in town, I also had the added disadvantage of not running on the State and County Democratic line, under Governor Murphy. The Mayor had the advantage of his own 22-year campaign war chest, the town party’s funds, and the county and state party funds, plus he ran on the line with the Governor. Residents were bombarded with texts and calls from the State Democratic party to vote Line A (in a party primary contest to determine the Democratic candidate). These are similar practices that the National Democratic Party employed against Bernie Sanders, when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016. These “Democratic” Party practices don’t sound very democratic. In fact, the Hudson County Democratic Party seems as if it has become a party of elitist aristocrats, where party bosses crown the princes and princesses who will eventually inherit their thrones.

4. Can you tell us about specific things you've accomplished for Jersey City?

I am looking to represent the ENTIRE 31st Legislative District, which includes the Southern end of Jersey City and all of Kearny and Bayonne. This district also happens to be one of the most forgotten areas of Hudson County. Most residents in this area believe that we are an after-thought of the Democratic establishment in this County. Because I am not part of that old style political establishment machine and not a life-long politician, I have never been in an official capacity to make a legislative impact. However, if elected, I will listen intently to my fellow residents and bring our concerns all the way to Trenton, where I will work tirelessly with my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to make a difference in the lives of the people I intend to represent here at home. I will work my hardest to make residents proud and build back the people’s trust and faith in our state and local government again.

5. What do you feel are the most important issues to Jersey City residents and what would you do to address them?

PROPERTY TAXES: In Hudson County, we pay some of the highest taxes in the State and possibly the nation. Residents do not feel as if we get the value we deserve from the high taxes we pay.

HIGH RENTS / UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING: Taxes don’t just affect homeowners. Rents in this area are among some of the highest in the nation, partially because our taxes are so high. Landlords simply pass their increased expenses onto their tenants. The Democratic establishment loves to throw around nice buzz words, like affordable housing. However, under their leadership, housing in our County and State has become unaffordable.

CRIME: Residents and small business owners simply put do not feel as safe as we once did in some of our neighborhoods and communities. Despite the numbers and statistics that are reported, this perception is our reality that we face every time we ourselves or our loved ones walk out of our homes to go to school, work, or even run errands. This fear is real and omnipresent, as crime has become a persistent problem in our district—an issue that the current party in control tends to ignore and tell us we are the crazy ones for feeling this way.

POOR INFRASTRUCTURE: We would gladly pay our high taxes without many complaints if we had sound infrastructure and decent roads, but our local streets, highways, bridges, tunnels, and sewer systems are all literally crumbling. With the kind of money that we pay, we deserve far better. Where is our money going?

UNDERPERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Again, with the amount of taxes that we pay to support a free public education (about half of our property taxes fund schools), residents expect our schools to be performing at least at par or better than the rest of the state. Instead, we consistently rank in the bottom half of our state. I personally know many of the teachers and school staff in our district. They work hard each and every day; they are not the ones to blame. Instead, the blame rests on the various school boards and some of the administrators who tend to focus more on politics and other distractions beyond the basic elements of education, such as math, reading, and writing skills. The school boards, who are supposed to function independently, have in many cases become extensions of Town and City Hall, influenced by our Mayors and other politicians, and beholden to interests other than the kids and their parents, who they are meant to serve.

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 unfortunately am not too familiar with this proposal. I have only read bits and pieces of it and do not possess the full knowledge and details to formulate a solid position. In general, I will always support maintaining clean parks and open public spaces, more recreation for adults and especially children, and promote more tourist destinations that will generate revenue for the public good. However, the Devil is always in the details, and so I would like to read this proposal in detail before announcing that I am for or against it.

7. Are Jersey City state and local taxes too low, about right or too high?

Of course, Jersey City taxes are TOO HIGH; in fact, taxes for all of Hudson County are TOO HIGH. Anyone who claims otherwise simply does not live here. Most residents do not complain because they feel as if they should not pay taxes. We all know we have to pay our fair share in taxes, because our governments need revenue to provide daily services, infrastructure, and public safety. However, we feel do not get the value we deserve for the high amount of taxes that we pay. In comparison to other parts of the state and even the country, we pay far too much in taxes and we get very little in return for our hard-earned tax dollars.

Furthermore, residents are tired of playing by the rules and paying our fair share, while we see multi-million and billion dollar skyscrapers and apartment buildings erected that are not responsible for paying their fair share in taxes. These wealthy developers are getting 30 and 40 year tax breaks/abatements, while the rest of us are responsible for paying for the increase in the demand for services, such as more roads and other infrastructure, more police and fire personnel, more teachers, more DPW employees, increased sewer usage, etc. Those who can afford to pay more are given tax incentives, while the rest of us, who are struggling to make ends meet, are presented with the invoices. One may wonder why the political establishment here in this area is so generous to these wealthy developers. Perhaps all we have to do is follow the money trail of their political campaign contribution lists.

8. Is there anything else our readers should know about you?

I am a life-long resident of the 31st Legislative District, born and raised in the Town of Kearny. I attended the former Sacred Heart Elementary School in Kearny, Queen of Peace High School in neighboring North Arlington, and finally Rutgers University, Newark Campus, while working full time.

After graduation, I was hired by the former Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo) in Kearny, where I worked nearly four years as a Senior Licensed Financial Specialist. Over the years, I worked for various other companies and banks as a financial sales representative, personal banker, small business banker, technology salesperson, and retail sales manager.

In 2015, I ventured into my first real estate deal, purchasing a six family rental property. Over the years, I acquired more properties, which I actively manage myself. I maintain an open door policy and great relationships with my tenants, making myself available to help address their concerns on a timely basis.

After years of working in finance, retail sales, and management, I decided to shift course and take advantage of my five years of real estate industry experience. I accepted a role as a Buyer’s Agent and quickly obtained my real estate license in three weeks. I have since moved my license to Coccia Realty Better Homes and Gardens in Kearny, where I currently work as a licensed real estate sales agent.

I serve as the Treasurer of a local Portuguese cultural association, the Acores Social and Sport Club of Newark; I am an active member of the St Stephen’s Church Choir in Kearny; and I also volunteer my time and donate to several local charities, foundations, and organizations.

I will bring all of this life and career experience to Trenton. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, other party, or no party, whether you voted for me or voted for someone else, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, or other classification, I will work hard to represent and serve all of the residents of the 31st Legislative District equally. I will be the voice for all of us who currently feel voiceless and powerless, that our opinions and thoughts don’t matter. You and your families matter to me, your opinion does count, and when elected I intend to make all of our voices heard loud and clear in Trenton.

I intend to maintain an open door policy, build relationships with residents and my colleagues in the Assembly regardless of party, and rebuild the trust and faith that is sorely lacking in our government institutions. I cannot promise that I will be perfect or that I will never make a mistake, but I do promise that I will always do my best to make the residents of this district proud of electing me to represent and serve them.