Gov. Chris Christie visited heavily Democratic Hudson County again during the election season, this time on Oct. 25, to woo Latino voters by announcing a state directive making it easier for U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico to transfer their drivers’ licenses.
The governor’s declaration was made at the Sabor Latin Bistro on River Road in North Bergen.
Christie ordered that New Jersey honor the transfer of valid and current drivers’ licenses of newly relocated residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories and commonwealths without retesting.
Under the modification, those submitting an application for a New Jersey drivers license who have a valid one from American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands will no longer have to take a written or a road test in order to qualify, but will still have to present the Six Points of Identification that is required of everyone.
“He did a fantastic job.” -- Debbie Nazario-Lopez
“The common sense change expedites the process and brings uniformity to how the state handles these applicants and those who want to transfer licenses from the 50 states and the District of Columbia,” Christie said.
The partisan crowd at the restaurant was happy to meet and listen to the well-liked Republican chief executive.
“He’s really a popular governor,” said North Bergen Commissioner Frank Gargiulo, also a Republican. “The last time a (Republican) governor spent so much time in Hudson County was Tom Kean.”
Paul Castelli and Maria Malavasi-Quartello, Republican candidates for the 32nd District state Senate and Assembly seats, respectively, also attended.
“I’m here to support the governor and everything he stands for,” Malavasi-Quartello said.
“It’s our district, which we’re going to represent once we win the election,” Castelli said.
Debbie Nazario-Lopez, co-owner of the bistro, was happy with both Christie’s visit and his edict.
“I think they should go through the same process as everyone else, being that they are part of the USA,” she said. “What I love about him is how he helped during Sandy – and cleaned up everything. He did a fantastic job.”
Larry Wainstein, president of the North Bergen Concerned Citizens Group, and other members, were buoyed by the Christie visit. The civic organization had earlier in the week thrown their support behind the governor in his reelection bid. In making the endorsement, Wainstein had noted that “Gov. Christie has appointed many qualified Hispanics to key leadership positions in his administration … ”
Christie also visited Secaucus twice, Hoboken, and Bayonne, earlier in the campaign.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.