(BELLMAWR, NJ) - Saying that Washington could use a dose of reality by electing a solidly middle-class electrician to Congress, today State Senator Donald W. Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) formally kicked off his campaign for New Jersey’s First District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Norcross was joined by his family, childhood friend New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, and numerous South Jersey local elected officials and Democratic Party leaders at the Bellmawr VFW Hall.
I’m running for Congress because South Jersey needs to continue to have an effective advocate, a voice in Washington who understands the issues that matter most to our families,” said Norcross, 55, of Camden, a longtime labor leader and former Chairman of the United Way of Camden County.
"From personal experience, through my work with the building trades and the United Way, I’ve learned that every problem a person faces is easier to deal with when they have a job that can pay their bills.”
Norcross continued: "We need affordable vocational and higher education opportunities so the leaders of tomorrow aren’t forced into debt bettering themselves and their job prospects. Parents shouldn’t be forced to decide between taking out a second mortgage on their home or depleting their life savings just to pay for college or grad school tuition bills for their kids. It’s a vicious cycle that takes middle class families backward, not forward.
As Senator, I led the fight to keep and expand Rutgers University’s presence in South Jersey and make Rowan University a major research hub. Now we can take full advantage of the first medical school in our region in over a generation, as well as the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Institute at Cooper University Hospital. I want to continue that fight so the best and brightest South Jerseyans aren’t forced to leave the area for better opportunities elsewhere.
South Jersey used to be an economic power house in manufacturing. We need to start building things again so we don’t slip further behind in the global economy.
I live in the same building my father once worked in when it was still RCA — where they made the first talking machines, radios, and TV’s. We need to create jobs in South Jersey to regain our competitive edge.
I will develop and support initiatives in Congress that create manufacturing opportunities here by rewarding business innovation and reversing the trend of offshoring jobs — a practice that leaves New Jersey workers behind. Given our close proximity to world class institutions of higher learning there’s no reason we can’t make the promise of innovation a reality.
As Senator, I led the charge on getting the Economic Opportunity Act passed into law — a game-changing law that will help to create thousands of jobs in our region. In Washington I want to step up that effort to bring new opportunities here to South Jersey, not overseas.
Finally, New Jersey is among the lowest state recipients of federal aid for the tax dollars we send to Washington. While I’m glad I played a role in the ongoing Rt. 295/Rt. 42 connector project to ease traffic congestion in our main highway corridor, I will fight tooth and nail to make sure South Jersey gets its fair share from our nation’s capital. We pay an awful lot for not enough in return.
That’s what this campaign is about: jobs for American workers; affordable educational opportunities for our children; and ensuring South Jersey gets its fair share. But I can’t do it alone, I need your support.
I stand before you, a kid from Pennsauken and the son of a labor leader who got his start installing antennas on rooftops throughout South Jersey. My mom was a stay-at-home mom until we were in high school and she started night classes at Camden County College, where I also attended. We eventually graduated together, and Mom then worked as a social worker helping senior citizens.
We were as middle class as middle class could get — 4 boys, 2 parents, and a dog — in a modest house on a modest street.
My three brothers, who I’m very proud of, all staked out successful careers in business, academia, and law, but I’m the only one who worked with his hands and rides a Harley.
At Camden County College I majored in law enforcement and public administration and was focused on a career in criminal justice. I even had a short stint as an Atlantic City special police officer. But like so many of us, my life has taken many twists and turns, and I had the opportunity to start an apprenticeship as an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and shortly thereafter, my wife Andrea and I started our family.
It wasn’t that long ago that I worked outside at refineries up and down the Delaware River, on area bridges, on high-voltage power lines, and in many other dangerous workplaces, and in all kinds of weather — but it was always rewarding.
In my trade there were not many second chances. Going to work always meant you had to be on your toes because one little slip and you wouldn’t be sitting at the dinner table that night. More often than I want to remember I was on jobs where some of my co-workers never made it home.
I remember what it was like being on unemployment as my wife and I were expecting our daughter. That’s the nature of the trade I’m in, but when times were tough we did more with less until the next job came along, and we made it work.
While this is an exciting new endeavor for me, holding titles has never been my driving ambition in life. My dad taught me to never forget where you came from, to give back, and to be authentic.
That’s why I led efforts for decades with the United Way of Camden County, and other non-profits. We utilized trade labor to build wheelchair ramps for seniors, created call-centers for help lines for those in need, and helped kids get off the streets and into skilled jobs.
When I was elected to represent Camden and Gloucester Counties in the State Assembly and State Senate, I hit the ground running. I studied the process and the intricate details of legislation, developed relationships on both sides of the aisle, worked hard and listened to my constituents. I’ve met with countless residents who just want their problems solved, a call returned, an answer. This is a role I take very seriously and I’m proud to say that I continue to fight for the values that made me who I am.
These real-world experiences have shaped my career in public service and I intend on bringing that everyday worker attitude with me to Congress, because it sure could use a dose of that reality.” ###
BIO OF SENATOR DONALD W. NORCROSS
Senator Donald Norcross has been a lifelong advocate for working men and women of New Jersey whose efforts have resulted in the creation of quality jobs for people across the South Jersey region. He has championed programs to expand and diversify the workforce through the recruitment and hiring of women and minorities, and has supported legislative initiatives that put our nation’s veterans to work.
Senator Norcross began his career in organized labor in 1979, working as an electrical apprentice and rising through the ranks of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to become assistant business manager of Local 351, a position he still holds today. He is former president of the Southern New Jersey Building Trades Council and served as president of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO Central Labor Council for 16 years.
Deeply committed to his community, Senator Norcross has been active in the United Way of Camden County for close to two decades, serving as chairman from 2002 through 2004 and since as a member of the organization’s Executive Board. He is currently a board member of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Since 1993, he has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Union Organization for Social Service (UOSS), the nation’s first labor agency devoted to community service.
Senator Norcross is a founding member and on the executive board of The Home Port Alliance, a coalition that brought back the retired USS New Jersey - the most decorated battleship in U.S. history - to serve as a monument for veterans and a major attraction for the revitalization of the Camden/Philadelphia Waterfront.
While New Jersey is the richest state per capita, Senator Norcross recognizes that many working families have been left behind. That’s why he strongly advocated for increasing the minimum wage, giving hundreds of thousands of residents the raise they deserve. He is committed to making New Jersey affordable through the creation of public-private partnerships and other initiatives that stimulate economic development, revitalize neighborhoods, and rejuvenate business districts.
Senator Norcross championed the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, with incentives that have already begun generating jobs and providing sustainable growth in the state. His historic Higher Education legislation modernizing our colleges and universities has put New Jersey on the map as a research and medical sciences education hub.
Senator Norcross authored the New Jersey First Act to prioritize jobs for our local workforce and ensure that public salaries stay in the Garden State. His veterans’ business program allows for local governments to set aside a portion of their contracts specifically for veteran-owned businesses. He has also introduced the New Jersey Tuition Equality for America’s Military (NJ TEAM) Act, which offers in-state tuition rates to all veterans attending New Jersey schools. He is currently leading the charge to reform our state's bail system and keep violent offenders out of our communities.
In February 2014, Senator Norcross announced his candidacy for United States Congress in the First Congressional District, where he plans to continue advocating for New Jersey’s families.
Senator Norcross and his wife live in the City of Camden. He is the father of three and grandfather of two.