I am working hard and enjoying the challenge of representing the place I’ve called home my entire life. We need to have an effective advocate in Washington who understands what’s important to our residents and who will work to get things done.
My life has been devoted to fighting for working families, seniors, veterans, and students. I know the struggles our families face because I’ve been there myself: from attending community college and raising my first son as a single dad, to working as an electrician and at times having to rely on unemployment and disability insurance to provide for my family, to having a son in the military, putting two children through college, becoming a proud grandfather and serving my community.
I hope to earn your support for my candidacy and agenda to grow our region’s economy by fighting for good jobs and higher wages, affordable educational opportunities, health care and retirement security, a strong nation and safe neighborhoods.
The best social program in the world is a good-paying job, and I’ve worked hard to help create new jobs and spur business growth in South Jersey.
I led the initiative to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage and now I’m calling for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, because America’s working families deserve a raise.
I am focused on strengthening our region’s core industries including our colleges and universities, hospitals, and ports. I’m working to advance big projects like the new Port of Paulsboro and ongoing ‘Direct Connection’ highway work along I-295. And I’m fighting hard to protect New Jersey’s Joint Military Base and the thousands of jobs it provides.
I championed a groundbreaking effort to improve our economy and bring new jobs to our region through the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013. These efforts have led to the creation of new manufacturing, service, and retail businesses along the ports of the Delaware River and throughout South Jersey. Among them is Holtec International, which is currently constructing a high-tech manufacturing facility along the Delaware that will eventually employ thousands of local residents.
I have also been a leader in modernizing our state’s brewing and distilling laws, supporting multiple small businesses throughout the state and creating jobs along with unique, Jersey-made craft brews and spirits.
As your representative in Congress, I will bring these innovative ideas to the national level and work to create family-sustaining jobs for all Americans.
My first and highest duty is to protect and defend the American people. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Emerging Threats Subcommittee, I’ve learned a lot about the dangers facing our world, and about the outstanding men and women working hard every day to keep us safe.
Recent events in Europe and America have reminded us that terrorism continues to be a threat in our society. I’ve called for common-sense steps to protect Americans, like conducting reviews of our Visa procedures and ending the outrageous terrorist background check loophole that currently allows people on our nation’s Terror Watchlist to legally purchase deadly firearms and explosives. We don’t let suspected terrorists board airplanes, and I am determined to make sure they can’t buy guns either.
In 2015, I traveled to the Middle East on three separate occasions and saw firsthand how the evils of terrorism are shaping our national security policies. Murderous, extremist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda must be defeated, and I have no doubt that by working together, we will prevail.
I fully support Israel, our strongest ally in a region that is both strategically significant and increasingly unstable. Israel proudly shares our American values of freedom and equality and is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. I oppose the nuclear deal with Iran because, as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran must never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon when it continues to threaten and vilify the people of Israel and America.
Our focus as a society must be to provide a world-class education for all, and to ensure affordable, accessible higher educational opportunities so that our best, brightest, and most industrious students can start building their adult lives without being mired in debt.
As product of New Jersey’s outstanding public school system, a graduate of Camden County College and a skilled apprenticeship program, I fully understand the value of a quality, affordable education that connects young minds with rewarding careers. Our economy can't thrive with so many students and young people facing the burden of excessive debt, so I support the President's plan to make community college tuition free for responsible students and I've acted to make critical reforms to student loan programs.
We have made great strides in boosting higher education in South Jersey and making our local universities and county colleges hubs for business innovation and high-tech job creation. I led the charge to strengthen our state’s higher education system and increase opportunities and resources for students at Rutgers-Camden and Rowan Universities, paving the way for a medical sciences research hub in our backyard. Likewise, I worked closely with our local county colleges to forge partnerships that make the transition to our universities easier and more affordable.
Now, I’m focused on expanding opportunities for students interested in attending our vocational, technical, and apprenticeship training schools so they can become valued members of our region’s workforce.
Men and women who have selflessly answered the call to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces should not be left behind when they return home. We have a duty to connect veterans and their families with every opportunity to work, get an education, and live a healthy life.
The bravery our service men and women have shown is not limited to state borders and neither should their education or health care. Our veterans deserve unrestricted access to the best health care America has to offer, and I am committed to giving every veteran the freedom to choose their preferred provider using their existing VA insurance. South Jersey is blessed with multiple world-class health care institutions, so our veterans should never have to suffer long waits or put up with sub-standard care. They gave their best, they deserve our best.
Veterans lead the country in unemployment, despite years of experience and the best training our military has to offer, which is why I have consistently fought to give them the support they need. Because of these efforts, local governments are now able to set aside a portion of their business opportunities specifically for veteran-owned businesses and those that employ our nation's finest, providing much-needed job opportunities for these skilled workers. In addition, New Jersey's colleges and universities now offer in-state tuition rates to all service members.
I recently announced my intention to rename the Deptford Post Office through an act of Congress after local hero and fallen Marine Lt. Sal Corma, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 in an act of heroism that saved the lives of dozens of his fellow soldiers.
Seniors have been hit hard by the economic climate, even as it recovers. In Congress, I will always honor our commitments to seniors and protect the Social Security and Medicare programs that they have worked hard to fund. I oppose voucher schemes and support reforms that will ensure appropriate cost of living adjustments that account for the rising costs our seniors face.
I’ve fought hard improve service and cut costs by supporting efforts backed by the AARP and other organizations that represent older Americans. In 2015, I was named a Medicare Advantage Champion by the Coalition for Medicare Choices, and I will continue these efforts to provide our most valued citizens with the health care and peace of mind they deserve.
I’ve also advocated for a Caregiver’s Tax Credit to help families give their elderly loved ones the attention they need in the comfort of home. This effort is strongly supported by the AARP because it provides a tax credit for qualifying caregivers and recognizes the enormous contribution they make to their families and our healthcare system.
Everyone deserves to live their lives without discrimination. Whether at home or at work, every individual is entitled to the same rights. Women deserve to be paid the same as their male counterparts and should never face opposition to their personal health care decisions. I have consistently supported progressive efforts that benefit women and families, from equal pay and family leave to protecting funding for women's health providers like Planned Parenthood.
Last year was a monumental year for civil rights: love won and now any couple is free to be in a loving and committed relationship, regardless of gender. As a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I will continue the fight to ensure equal rights, repeal discriminatory laws and stop hate violence.
Our leaders should be determined by the voice of the people, not the finances of a select few. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision placed a huge amount of power in the hands of a few wealthy individuals and corporations. I support a repeal of that decision and efforts to renew transparency and accountability in our elections.
We must also preserve the true meaning of democracy. That means safeguarding voting rights for every American and restoring the protections of the Voting Rights Act. I traveled to Selma, Alabama along with President Barack Obama and Congressman John Lewis on the 50th Anniversary of the march that helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act, and it's clear the time to restore voting rights established 50 years ago is now.
Our society must also address the vicious cycles of poverty, drug abuse, and incarceration that affects the lives of so many Americans. I support medical marijuana as a way to provide compassion for those suffering from terrible diseases, and decriminalization of the drug will go a long way toward fixing serious issues in our criminal justice system. Likewise, we must begin to treat the opioid crisis plaguing our country as a serious public health issue that requires prevention efforts, treatment options, and public safety tools like the Naloxone antidote. Mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders or those who lack the resources to post bail is not the answer, and in New Jersey I led the effort to reform our bail system so that dangerous criminals are kept behind bars and being stuck in prison is no longer a penalty for simply being poor.
I will continue to protect the individual rights of Americans and preserve the values of freedom, democracy and equality that make our country the greatest nation on Earth.
We need to ensure that the Earth is healthy and strong for future generations. Environmentally sustainable policies and investments in renewable energy will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, but it can also help us address climate change. The Clean Power Plan advanced by President Obama established the first-ever national standards to reduce carbon emissions, but there is still more we can do.
35 years have passed since the Superfund was created to enforce clean up of toxic sites across the country. New Jersey alone has 118 contaminated and abandoned sites, and all of them can be transformed into productive regions through the Superfund’s cleanup initiative, so I've worked hard to bring those resources back to our state.
We also need to protect the Jersey Shore from harmful offshore drilling in the Atlantic, which would harm both our environment and economy. As our beaches are still recovering form Superstorm Sandy, our businesses, families and tourism industries cannot afford the potential and irreparable damage that would come from drilling off our coast.
I'm proud to be a strong supporter of animal rights and organizations like the Humane Society of the US that work to ensure dignity and respect for all animal life. I am especially grateful to the amazing work of service animals, and I will continue to highlight their therapeutic value, the positive effect they have on people's day-to-day lives, and their notable contributions to law enforcement and national security.
Enhancing public safety is one of my top priorities. I led the successful push to reform our state’s bail laws and keep violence out of our communities by focusing on an offender's risks, not their resources, and was recognized by the New Jersey NAACP for those efforts.
I was an early supporter of equipping law enforcement officials with body cameras, and authored New Jersey’s first law to do so. Capturing this information protects both officers and the public they serve.
First Responders risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe, and I have stood up for them by instituting programs that help them gain and retain employment, and assist their families in times of need.
I also worked to increases penalties for illegal gun trafficking and allow police officers to impound vehicles in cases that involve illegal weapons, drugs, or prostitution, effectively removing vehicles of crime from our streets. We don’t let suspected terrorists board airplanes, and I'm determined to make sure that 'No-Fly' means 'No-Buy.’