By Matt Hunger
Donald Payne Jr. has received his second Council endorsement, with At-Large Councilman Rolando Lavarro announcing he would be supporting Payne, the Newark Council President, in his campaign for the 10th Congressional district seat. Payne's father held until his untimely death this year.
"Donald Payne is another in a long line of fighters for the people," Lavarro said in a statement. "The underprivileged, the unrepresented are the focus of Donald Payne and his accomplishments, just as they were his father."
Lavarro, who was elected in a special election in 2011 as an independent Democrat, will be campaigning on Payne's behalf in Jersey City's portion of the Congressional district.
Donald Payne Sr. was the first African-American elected to Congress from New Jersey, while Lavarro was the first and only Asian American elected to council office in Jersey City. Lavarro notes in his statement that the 2010 U.S. Census shows that over 23 percent of the Jersey City population identified as Asian American, the fastest growing ethnic community in the city.
"The Payne family has a record fighting for civil and human rights here and abroad," Lavarro said. "I know that Donald Payne Jr. will continue this legacy and confront injustice in all communities once elected."
Lavarro, an administrator at New Jersey City University, is of Filipino decent and points to Payne's sponsorship of the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2009 as a notable example of fighting injustice. The bill ultimately helped Filipino World War II veterans receive long overdue recognition and benefits for their service, he said in the statement. Lavarro also praised Payne Sr.'s sponsorship of the Dream Act, and thanked his son for a commitment to continuing support for the monumental legislation.
"I thank Councilman Lavarro for his support. We are both on the same team. We know people need jobs. I have created jobs and opportunities. If elected I will focus on jobs," said Payne in the statement, adding, "I know Councilman Lavarro has been a champion of issues that affect people the most. That's what I will continue to be, as well."
"Payne Jr. and I share a commitment to minority representation, to jobs, education, and affordable housing," Lavarro said. "We have a shared commitment to the south side of Jersey City and to local and federal partnerships that address the challenges in our urban communities."