Latino Leadership Alliance PAC Endorsed Governor Christie for a Second Term

STATEMENT BY MARTIN PEREZ, PRESIDENT OF THE LATINO LEADERSHIP ALLIANCE

We are here to announce our endorsement of Governor Chris Christie for a second term as Governor of New Jersey.

We met Chris Christie when he became New Jersey's US Attorney. His accessibility struck us, and enabled our friendship to develop. We found him to be a good listener, and he showed a genuine interest in getting to know us and our concerns. We also learned that disagreement was forthright but respectful. We were impressed with his commitment to end abuse of power by elected officials, and his fight against corruption at all levels of government. These qualities were the building blocks for the friendship that evolved, and also for the transformational leader he has become for all of New Jersey.

Over the last three years Governor Christie has listened to our concerns, worked closely with us and given us a seat at the table. There are many complex issues that are of concern to New Jersey's Latino communities, and chief among them are education, immigration, civil rights, health, law, politics, arts and culture. But the Latino community also faces the problems common to all New Jerseians that have been many years in the making. The problems that threatened every New Jersey family's quality of life and the simple hopes and expectations that families can grow, prosper and stay in New Jersey.

Governor Christie came to office with an understanding of how deep these problems have become and a willingness to do whatever it takes to fix them. With creative, bold, assertive and aggressive leadership he has tackled New Jersey's problems in ways that have restored our hopes in New Jersey's future. He has challenged both parties to step up their game. And, leading by example, he has set aside rigid partisan political boundaries to address the needs of the people, from the victims of Hurricane Sandy, to the needs of small businessmen and women, to homeowners confronted with the highest property taxes in the nation.

The Governor's commitment to education reform has been especially important to New Jersey's Latino families. Half of all Latino school children are trapped in poor performing districts, where poor educational outcomes are a life sentence to poverty. For over a decade, the Latino Leadership Alliance has fought with successive administrations for educational reform that ensures our children have access to high quality education, educational opportunity that breaks rather than perpetuates the cycle of poverty. In this arena, Governor Christie has been unrelenting in his commitment to our children's needs. Unlike any predecessor, he stepped directly into the ring with Trenton's educational establishment to fight for the education rights of Latino children stuck in dysfunctional schools. As a result, today, Latino parents have more educational choices because of the record number of high quality charter schools that have been opened and renewed under the Governor's administration. He also broke the stranglehold of tenure laws and policies that for years have protected adult interests at the expense of children. Now an educator's performance, rather than the passage of time, is what measures effectiveness, pay, and whether a person stays at the front of a classroom.

And, just earlier this week, in his budget address, the Governor again demonstrated his commitment to the fight for educational justice, by dedicating funds for an Opportunity Scholarship Pilot Project, while also providing more state aid for education than any previous administration.

We also had an in depth discussion with Governor Christie about our concerns for health care access and it is clear from Tuesday's budget address that he heard us. Despite his differences with the Affordable Health Care Act, the Governor announced his agreement to expand the State’s Medicaid health care program for senior citizens and low-income residents, opening it to an additional 104,000 participants, while saving the state $227 million. This change in health care in New Jersey will have a positive effect on the Latino community, which has many qualifying recipients of Medicaid.

The Governor's budget also made a historic commitment, unmatched by any of his recent predecessors, to make the full scheduled payment to the state's pension fund. He has successfully crusaded to reform New Jersey's pension system. In making this payment he is putting New Jersey fiscal health on the right track for the long term, while showing our law enforcement, fire, and other state employees he is committed to them, so that the money is there when they reach retirement. This issue has been of great concern to our Latino law enforcement and firemen.

Concerning immigration issues, the Governor agrees with us that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is long overdue and endorses a shared responsibility approach between government and the undocumented. The Governor is sensitive to the need to bring people out of the shadows, for the benefit and security of both the immigrant and non-immigrant communities throughout the country. The Governor is especially sensitive to the many undocumented who came here as children, and have become Americans by upbringing, acculturation and disposition. He shares our view that we should not erect unnecessary boundaries to realization of the full potential of these young Americans, who have so much to contribute to the future of our state and country.

Finally, Governor Christie has demonstrated throughout all the time we have known him that he practices what he preaches in his commitment to diversity. The Governor believes that state institutions and government should reflect the diversity of the state's population, and his actions have demonstrated his seriousness. We have been heartened by his appointment of qualified Latinos to key administrative posts, judicial positions and state Boards, and we are confident diversity will continue to grow in state government in New Jersey. But, we are especially proud of our friend, who has expressed in the most candid terms, the need for his party to become more welcoming to Latinos. We know from our experience over many years that the Governor is a man of his word, and we can count on his commitment to lead the Republican Party toward greater inclusivity. We know the Governor's commitment in this regard is destined to have a fundamental impact on both parties, as it will positively enhance the political effectiveness of the Latino community.

We are very proud to announce our unanimous decision to endorse our friend, Chris Christie, for a second term as Governor of New Jersey.

February 28, 2013