New Jersey State Assembly Member Angel Fuentes said he regards Nilsa Cruz-Perez as a trailblazer for the other Hispanic members of the state legislature.
He still marvels at the fact that it took until 1996 for Cruz-Perez to become the first Hispanic member. Now there are 12, Fuentes said.
Today (12/15/14), Cruz-Perez’s career as a state lawmaker will begin anew when she’s sworn in at 1 p.m. to take over the 5th District seat in the state Senate, which Donald Norcross left vacant after his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Fuentes himself ran for Cruz-Perez’s 5th District Assembly seat in 2009, when she decided not to run after serving 14 years. He said he’s pleased with the opportunity to work with her in the future — at least through next year. A special election for the remaining two years of the term will be held in November.
“She’s somebody I looked up to for many years,” Fuentes said. “She was my mentor.”He said she understands the problems that are hitting the Hispanic community particularly hard, such as the large number of people without insurance, and the high drop-out rates among high school students.
But he said she also intends to tackle issues that are of concern to the 5th District as a whole, such as the high rate of home foreclosures, the financial hardships of getting into college and the need for economic development.
“I’m very happy to have her on board,” Fuentes said.
This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog