New Jersey Lawmakers Launch First Commercial In Competitive Primary

By John Celock

A pair of Democratic legislators in New Jersey are focusing on being the children of single parents in the first ad of one of the state’s most competitive primaries.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth) and Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Roselle) make their life stories the highlight of an ad that debuted Tuesday focused on voters in Elizabeth. Quijano and Holley are facing off against two other tickets for the two Assembly seats in the Union County based 20th district. Quijano and Holley, who are backed by the establishment Democratic Party in the county, are facing off against a ticket of Elizabeth Board of Education member Tony Monteiro and Giuliano Farina, which is aligned with the party faction that controls the Elizabeth Board of Education, and a ticket comprised of former Hillside Councilman Jorge Batista and Vivian Bell.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D), who has long been at odds with the party faction which controls the Elizabeth Board of Education, narrates the ad.

“It was always easy for Annette Quijano and Jamel Holley,” Bollwage said in the ad. “Raised by single parents both Annette and Jamel learned the value of hard work and became true public servants.”

In the ad Bollwage cited Quijano’s work in the Assembly on college affordability and health care issues, while he noted Holley’s work as Roselle mayor on gun control and economic development. Quijano was first appointed to the Assembly in September 2008 to fill a vacancy, while Holley was appointed last month to succeed Democrat Joseph Cryan, who stepped down to become Union County sheriff.

While mayor, Holley was active in Mayor’s Against Gun Violence and lobbied Congress on gun violence issues. Quijano currently serves as deputy majority leader of the Assembly and is also the chairwoman of the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. Outside of the Legislature, Holley is the public works director in Irvington and Quijano is a prosecutor in Elizabeth.

The Democratic Party faction that control the Elizabeth Board of Education has long been at odds with Bollwage and Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), who also represents the 20th district. The Board of Education faction has long made unsuccessful Democratic primary runs in the 20th district, along with challenging establishment Democrats for seats on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and for city office in Elizabeth.