Rep. Albio Sires is being challenged in the reconfigured 8th Congressional District by Republican María Karczewski and Independent Steven DeLuca in the Nov. 6 election.
The 8th District was formerly the 13th District until boundary lines were changed this year. The district includes a greater portion of Jersey City, less of Bayonne, and all of Guttenberg, Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, West New York, and North Bergen.
Sires, a former mayor and Assemblyman, is being challenged by Karczewski, who is a former councilwoman in Bayonne, and by Deluca, a Jersey City activist and attorney.
“We cannot balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor.” – Albio Sires
Sires was the first Hispanic to serve as speaker of the State Assembly from 2002 to 2006, and mayor of West New York from 1995 to 2006 until he ran for the House of Representatives in 2006.
An active Democrat since the 1970s, Sires became an anti-corruption candidate who opposed then-Democratic Mayor Anthony DeFino. He became a Republican in 1994, later registered as an Independent, and eventually became a Democrat again.
Sires said he is running on his record. Although DeLuca claims Sires only sponsored seven bills, none of which were ever made into law, Sires’ record shows he was the original sponsor of more than 44 bills and co-sponsor for more than a 1,450 bills, many of which were signed into law during his eight years in the House of Representatives.
Sires said he has been instrumental in bringing federal Homeland Security funding to his district, citing it as one of the primary risk areas for possible terrorist attacks.
A big proponent of the light rail, Sires said he hopes to see the line expanded to the Journal Square area of Jersey City and eventually to the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
But he notes that a Republican-controlled House of Representatives gutted the federal transportation bill earlier this year, and hopes this will change after the reelection of President Barack Obama.
A supporter of tax reform, he said, this has to be done with everybody in mind.
“We cannot balance the federal budget on the backs of the poor,” he said. “We need to deal with tax reform, but it has to be fair.”
Sires also supports President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform, saying the reform package retained health insurance for young adults still in college, for people with pre-existing conditions, and has the potential to improve coverage for about hundreds of thousands of residents.
Locally, Sires has been – along with both New Jersey U.S. Senators – instrumental in bringing in funding for local schools, for the North Hudson Regional Fire Department, and for shipping projects such as those at Global Terminals in Jersey City and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge Roadway.
“As Republicans, we understand the negative impact many of the Democratic policies are having on small business.” – Jose Arango
DeLuca: an independent voice Stephen DeLuca, who ran last year for Hudson County executive as a Republican, is running as an Independent candidate against Sires.
“I’m ready to serve and I want to serve, and I will work with people to get Congress working again,” he said, adding that the political bickering between the Republicans and Democrats has caused Congress to become dysfunctional. “I’m glad to be running as an independent. This way people will know that I’m not beholden to any party. There are issues that this county needs to solve and I think I have the experience and capacity to help, and because of my experience, I know how Washington works.”
Currently a resident of Jersey City, DeLuca went to the University of Rochester on a Navy R.O.T.C. Scholarship, received his Commission as a Naval Officer, and was assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway CV41, permanently forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
After law school, he served as a judicial law clerk for a United States judge for the Court of International Trade in NYC, enforcing the customs and international trade laws. While working on his doctoral dissertation, he served as a General Attorney (International) in the Office of Chief Counsel for Import Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., protecting American industries and jobs from unfair foreign trade practices.
DeLuca said Congress needs leaders who will make the effort reach across to the other party to find solutions.
“One of the things I do is reconciliation work, not just with my church or even just the Christian community, but I talk to people of different grounds and help them resolve dispute,” he said. “And if I’m elected, hopefully I can set the tone and others will also reach across the aisle to the other party.”
A strong opponent of human trafficking, DeLuca has been very active in the local community in trying to curb prostitution and drug distribution.
“I’ve been trying to raise awareness about these issues for years,” he said.
Something of a fiscal conservative, DeLuca said government does have a place in the business community, but must not stifle small business with over regulation, which prevents business from creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Large businesses have the resources to deal with these regulations, but often small businesses do not. He said government should be creating partnerships that will allow these small companies to prosper.
Although DeLuca applauds President Obama for trying to reform the healthcare system, he said there are issues unaddressed, such as the shortage of qualified doctors and nurses, and the negative economic impacts of Medicaid and Medicare that cause doctors to avoid taking these patients – thus sending poor people to emergency rooms and increasing the costs of health coverage even more.
“I’m ready to serve and I want to serve, and I will work with people to get Congress working again.” – Stephen DeLuca
Karczewski: Deep roots in Bayonne
Maria Karczewski’s family roots go back more than 100 year in Bayonne. A graduate of Bayonne High School who also attended St. Peter’s College, where she majored in business management and Spanish, she has been part of the executive team for Standard & Poors for more than 15 years before moving on to other business ventures. Prior to her Wall Street career, Karczewski served as a personnel recruiter at the United Nations for nearly 10 years.
Karczewski served on the Bayonne City Council from 2002 to 2006 and has had a focus in all of her campaigns on financial and economic stability. She ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 2006 and later ran for City Council again in 2010.
Karczewski has had an emphasis on integrity to government – meaning that her role would be to represent the people who elected her, not special interests.
Unavailable for interview for this story because of an out-of-state business commitment, Karczewski was recruited to run for the House of Representatives by Republican County Chairman Jose Arango, who said she brings to the ticket business expertise and experience as an elected official in Hudson County.
“She has been one of the highest vote-getters in Bayonne,” Arango said. “And Bayonne is one of the best cities in Hudson County for voting Republican. I believe Maria can get as much as 40 percent of the vote out of Bayonne. The Polish community and business community tend to support Republicans. She also has the support of Jersey City Republican and south Hudson Republicans, and just knowing her qualifications makes her an attractive candidate. She is a woman and we need more women in politics and in Washington.”
Arango said Karczewski’s primary issue is support of the small business community.
“Her family is into real estate, and so she understands what sacrifices minority-owned small businesses have to make, and all the factors that go into operating a small business,” Arango said. “As Republicans, we understand the negative impact many of the Democratic policies are having on small business. Obama talks about tax the rich, but many of these taxes affect the functionality of small business. We need someone like Maria who understands what people in Hudson County face. She has creditability countywide.”