Buono: 'together, we can create a better New Jersey'
By Max Pizarro | June 4th, 2013 - 9:11pm
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EDISON - Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) declared victory tonight in the Democratic Primary for governor in front of a crowd of Democrats gathered in the ballroom of the Edison Hotel.

"I’m running it for the mothers and fathers who work every day cleaning bathrooms and making beds and babysitting someone else’s children so they can earn barely enough money to take care of their own," Buono said. "I’m running it for the teachers and police officers and firefighters who devote their lives to keeping our communities safe but are told time and time again that they’re the problem. Let’s get one thing straight: We’ve got some obstacles in this state. And we will overcome them together."

Buono's choice for State Party chair, Assemblyman Jason O'Donnell (D-31), Bayonne, introduced Campaign Chair Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), who introduced the gubernatorial candidate to a throng of sign-waving supporters.

Sitting State Party Chairman John Wisniewski was in the crowd. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) was in the crowd.

Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie was in the room. So were Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35).

Below is the full transcript of Buono's remarks...

First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge that we meet during a moment of heartbreak and grief for the people of New Jersey. Early yesterday, we lost one of the greatest public servants our state has ever known, Senator Frank Lautenberg. 

This is surely a difficult time for Bonnie, his wife, and their family, and I am deeply sorry for their loss.

But even as we mourn his passing, my greatest hope is that we can all remember – and draw inspiration from – the way Frank Lautenberg lived.

Senator Lautenberg fought for the people of this nation, for the people of New Jersey, because he believed in them.

He believed that all they needed was opportunity, the same opportunity that brought his mother and father, Jewish immigrants from Europe, to these shores. He knew the value of a chance.

Senator Lautenberg embodied the American Dream. And he fought day in and day out to maintain it.

When it came to the reform of our gun laws, the state of our environment, the quality of our transportation systems, our schools and our veterans, when it came to our women and our children and every issue that mattered in this nation, Frank Lautenberg raised his voice and stood his ground. 

That is his legacy.

Senator Lautenberg is no longer with us, but let us carry that torch in his honor.  Let us remember the fight for the common good that unites us, not as Democrats or Republicans or independents, but as residents of the state of New Jersey.

That’s what’s at the core of this party. That’s what inspires me every day on the campaign trail.

It’s meeting men and women and children and knowing that every one of them has potential. And all they need is a chance.

That’s what tonight is about. 

This night is about you. It’s about every single person who believes that together, we can create a better New Jersey.

This night is about you. It’s about every single person who believes that together, we can create a better New Jersey.

Now, I’ve said it since day one. I’m not running this race against Chris Christie. I’m running it for you.

I’m running it for the recent graduates who’ve applied for job after job without even getting so much as a call back.

I’m running it for the mothers and fathers who work every day cleaning bathrooms and making beds and babysitting someone else’s children so they can earn barely enough money to take care of their own.

I’m running it for the teachers and police officers and firefighters who devote their lives to keeping our communities safe but are told time and time again that they’re the problem.

Let’s get one thing straight: We’ve got some obstacles in this state. And we will overcome them together.

But we only have one problem. And we’re going to solve it on November 5th.

Our problem is a Governor who sees 400,000 unemployed and says that everything is just fine.

Our problem is a Governor who sees our middle class shrinking and homeowners who can’t afford their property taxes – taxes up nearly 20 percent since he took office – and says that everything is just fine.

Our problem is a Governor who sees the poverty rate increase year after year but, refusing to increase the minimum wage and tie it to the cost of living and failing to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit, says that everything is just fine.

Our problem is a Governor who’s cut funding to our schools and denied some of our best and brightest residents the fair shot that is tuition equality.

Our problem is a Governor who vetoes marriage equality and tells our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors that their love is worth less.

Our problem is a Governor who’s defunded Planned Parenthood and our health clinics and left New Jersey’s women on their own.

Our problem is a Governor who, after two storms in the span of two years that devastated so many across this state, still wavers when it comes to the reality that is climate change.

That’s our problem. That’s not the New Jersey I know. I know that’s not who we are.

See, I was born in Newark and raised in Nutley in a working class home where my parents slept on a fold-out couch every night so that my sisters and I could have a bed. 

My father, an immigrant from a small village outside Naples, came here as a young boy with his parents, my grandparents – a man and woman who spoke no English. He wanted to study medicine, but after he dropped out of high school, he was more suited to a butcher’s coat than a doctor’s.

I remember he worked from dawn til dusk to give his daughters the chances he never got.

He taught me how to work hard. He taught me how to make sacrifices. He taught me that here in the United States, here in the state of New Jersey, opportunity is our most valuable resource.

He died when I was 19 but those lessons lived on in me.

They got me through Montclair State and Rutgers Law and a basement fire that destroyed everything I had as a young adult.

And even though he’s not here to see his girl run for governor, I know dad would be proud.

But I know I can’t just chalk it all up to working hard or being lucky. I’m before you today because I grew up in a New Jersey that invested in my success. I grew up in a New Jersey that wanted to see a kid like me succeed.

That’s what brought my grandparents to these shores – the fundamental belief that, because we invested in lifting one another up, this was a state where my dad would do better than them and I, running to be the first female Democrat to lead this state, would exceed their greatest dreams.

They came here for a New Jersey that rewarded hard work. They came here for a New Jersey where everyone had a chance to get into the middle class – and stay there.

Together, we’ve built on those principles. Together, we’ve strived for a level playing field, for equality of opportunity for all New Jerseyans.

That New Jersey – the New Jersey where we work together to build a better future for the next generation – it made me who I am. Without quality public schools – from grade school through law school, without affordable tuition and grants and loans to help me pay it, without food stamps to help put food on the table after that fire, I wouldn’t be here. Without the social safety net, I wouldn’t be where I am.

I don’t know all of your stories, but I know that some of you wouldn’t be here either.

So don’t tell me the social safety net drags us down. It lifts people up. It lifted me up.

And what I believe New Jersey needs now is someone who knows that truth first-hand.

And we’re here – as Democrats – because that’s what we believe – that regardless of what they earn or where they live or who they love, the people of this state need a New Jersey where opportunity exists for every resident. All they need is a hand up when they fall down. All the people of this state need is a chance. And it’s about time we give it to them.

This road will be long; this I know. And I cannot promise that it will be easy. In fact, it likely will not be.

But our society’s greatest challenges have rarely been overcome with ease. We have moved forward because of the sheer grit and determination of individuals standing together to make our state a fairer place.

After tonight, the real work begins. And the era of choosing shouting and showmanship over substance and mistaking name-calling for consensus-building comes to an end.

As your Governor, knowing that New Jersey was there for me, knowing that this state made me who I am, my first priority will be making sure that everybody gets a chance.

But I know I can’t do it alone.

Because we can’t just hope for a New Jersey of opportunity. We can’t just wish for a New Jersey where our public schools and public servants, our students and our middle class and working people across our state are a priority, where the public’s wellbeing is more important than corporate welfare.

We can’t just wait for it. 

Together, we have to work for it. So I’m going to need all of you.

I need you to tell a few friends that being on magazine covers and meeting Prince Harry don’t mean anything to us.

Because folks here in New Jersey don’t worry all that much about the Royal Family in England. They worry about their own families.

I need you to make a few calls and let folks know that playing games on the boardwalk may be all in fun but when their tax rates have gone up and their home values are down, our homeowners aren’t laughing.  

I need you to knock on a few doors over the next few months and tell folks what we all know to be true – the hype is nothing more than hype.

Ladies and gentleman the curtains are closing on the Christie show.

There will be no Act Two.

There will be no encore.

Because town by town, block by block, street by street, if we knock on doors together and make calls together and stand together and fight together, in five short months, we’re going to bring change to the state of New Jersey.

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