Fil-Am wins full-term seat in Jersey City council

By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jun 15 2013 02:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 15 2013 10:27 PM

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Rolando Lavarro did it again. The first Filipino-American to win a seat in the Jersey City Council in 2011, wins his second Council-at-Large seat in this week's runoff elections.

Mayor-elect Steve Fulop's team of candidates -- Joyce Waterman, Daniel Rivera and Lavarro got about 15,000 votes each -- that's 17% of all votes in the runoff election.

"It's really a victory for all the Jersey City residents and it's truly a victory for Filipino-Americans in Jersey City, Filipinos came out in droves, vote and let their voice be heard, their presence be felt," Lavarro said.

Jersey City voters, including kababayans who fondly called themselves "Fulop-inos" got behind team Fulop, that now has a 7-2 majority of the nine-member body.

"It's great because the community is so welcoming and warm, so I view myself as not quite Filipino but maybe 'Fulopino,' so there you go," Fulop said.

Numerous Filipino-Americans volunteered to make phone calls and house visits and distributed campaign materials to help Team Fulop win big and make way for what they call a new breed of politicians in Jersey City.

"It shows, from now on, the political bigwigs of Jersey City will have to recognize that Filipinos is a power base," Jersey City Attorney Victor Sison said, adding "this time the Filipino community stood up for one man."

"Steve definitely knows how to pick a team that represents Jersey City as whole, and it's very positive for the city moving forward," Council-at-Large Elect Daniel Rivera said.

Voter turnout was about 30 percent of the 138,911 registered voters.

"That means that more than 70 percent of our population isn't interested in voting because they weren't moved to come to the polls," Lavarro said.

"We still have a lot to do in Jersey City to restore the trust and confidence in residents."