I agree with Union City Board of Education employee Celin Valdivia's comment that former Secretary of State Colin Powell exemplifies the struggle of immigrants, who achieve the American dream. Mr. Valdivia, who is the son of Cuban immigrants. praised the board president Jeanette Pena, for her decision to change Columbus School's name to Colin Powell. I invited Mr. Valdivia to join me in calling upon the board president to name the high school after Senator Robert Menendez, who is also the epitome of the American dream. His life story is similar to the life of the majority of local students, and product of the city's public schools. He was elected to the board of education at age 19, and later served as its secretary. In 1986 became mayor, was elected to the state assembly and state senate. In 1992 was elected to Congress, and subsequently to the US Senate. Those were hard personal goals to achieve for an immigrant's son.
During his incumbency as mayor, Menendez took into consideration the city's demographics by helping elect representatives of those groups to the boards of education, commissioners and Freeholders. During those years the School Construction Corporation did not exist, but he made it a priority to begin the urgent repairs of the city's decaying schools. At state and federal levels he has fought to secure funding for police and fire departments began to reflect the city's population, especially in supervisory positions. He treated municipal employees with dignity and respect. Many people owed their success and political careers to Bob Menendez, including Jeanette Pena, who advanced her career while working at Edison School Safe Haven Program.