Rolando Lavarro wins in low turnout election

He promised to ‘roll up sleeves’ to create jobs.

Amid a dismal 18 percent voter turnout, Rolando Lavarro Jr. was elected Jersey City’s council member-at-large. He will represent Ward A, a predominantly FilAm district.

Messages of congratulations essentially saying ‘We’re proud of you, kabayan’ streamed into Lavarro’s Facebook page. Long-time Jersey City resident Ledy Almadin told The FilAm she voted for Lavarro and was praying that he gets confirmed.

See, Lavarro’s proclamation ran into a little technical glitch. After the November 8 elections where Lavarro and Richardson were the clear voter getters, Hudson County election officials could not promptly certify their victory because the cartridges were left in two voting machines, and it had to take a court order to authorize officials to retrieve them.

Although the delay in certification appeared to be an accident and had no shade of impropriety whatsoever, a few dozen Filipino supporters of Lavarro took to the streets to protest, urging election officials to “be honest for once” and to “not steal history from us.”

The results were certified November 15, and Lavarro was promptly proclaimed winner, making the NYU-educated son of doctors the first Filipino and Asian to hold an elective position in Jersey City.

“I promise no one will work harder to unite our communities and make Jersey City a better, safer, more affordable place for all our families,” was Lavarro’s campaign vow. “ I’ll roll up my sleeves to create jobs for Jersey City residents and fight for a thriving local economy

The candidacy of Roland Lavarro was a difficult one for some Filipinos in Jersey City because it forced them to ponder deep and hard if this candidate was one they could trust.

“Many Filipino leaders in Jersey City have failed us,” said a voter who declined to give his name. “I hope Lavarro is different.”

He was referring to former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Ador Equipado who was accused of extorting from couples he was to marry. He resigned in 2007. In a previous election, two Filipinos fought for the same council seat, thus splitting the community’s votes. Neither won.

Lavarro, his wife Veronica and their baby daughter, Gabriela, live in the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City. — Cristina DC Pastor

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