New Jersey’s 8th congressional district begins just north of North Bergen, includes West New York, Guttenberg, Union City, Weehawken, and Hoboken moves down into Historical Downtown Jersey City and then winds around most of Bayonne and Newark Airport into the Latino neighborhoods north of Newark and includes all of Elizabeth. Most of the voters live in Hudson County, although there’s a sizable chunk of Essex County and some in Union County. The district is almost 55% Latino. 8.3% is Black, 7.7% is Asian and the white population is about 27%. The district is deep, deep blue, with a PVI of D+24; Obama beat McCain with 73% and then 4 years later beat Romney with an astounding 79%. Since 2007, when crooked Rep. Robert Menendez became crooked Senator Robert Menendez, the congressman has been Albio Sires, previously the Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly. Rated a “D” by ProgressivePunch, the 2015-16 congressional session is the worst of any New Jersey Democrat other than Donald Norcross, the conservative South Jersey Machine candidate.
Eloy Delgado, a millennial candidate challenging Sires the cycle, was born in Elizabeth, NJ during the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic. He describes his childhood as a happy one due to family sheltering him from the realities that were taking place outside of the apartment. As a child, Eloy would make it a game to kill as many roaches as possible. He did not know that his housing complex was kept in substandard conditions which contributed to the high rates of asthma in his neighborhood. He did not know that the loud pop sounds he heard constantly during the summer months were actually the scourge of gun violence in his neighborhood. At the time of his childhood, he was not aware that he went to one of the “worst” public schools in the State of New Jersey. Despite the challenging circumstances of his upbringing, today he says he is grateful for being able to experience these circumstances because they gave him the ability to empathize and see the importance of systemic public investment, which has a good deal to do with his endorsement of Bernie Sanders.
He describes the district as a working class area that highly depends on public transportation for economic development. “Unfortunately, investment in public transportation has never been a priority for many of our elected officials. Local roads are subjected traffic patterns and volumes they were not designed to bear and the quality of life of local residents declines as result. Despite this, the best asset the district has to offer is its people. The people from the 8th district are from all over the world and their diversity enriches the district with an array of cultures, customs, and food.”
Eloy himself is a first generation American. He was born to a Dominican mother and a Cuban father. He told us he saw first hand what it’s like to work hard for the American dream while external forces work against said dreams. “This area used to be filled with good paying manufacturing jobs that provided middle class wages to working class people. Our disastrous free trade policies, busting of the unions, tax cuts for the rich, and other policies have all contributed to dismal state of the middle and working class. Moreover, our colleges and universities started to mirror the broader trends in the economy: cutting protections, salaries and benefits for middle class professors, while funneling more money into upper administrative positions. Tuition at our universities and colleges keep increasing while the number of tenured salaried professors keeps declining. While our economic policy has focused on the 1%, our foreign policy has been a reckless one that has kept us looking backwards instead of forward.”
Because Sires works closely with foreign policy reactionaries like Ileana Ros-Lehtien and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida against President Obama’s policies of opening up relations between the U.S. and Cuba, we asked Eloy where he stands on Cuban policy.
No area is this more evident than with our policy towards Cuba. I agree with President Obama that continuing the policies of the Cold War is not productive for America or the Cuban people. My father left Cuba, and I fully understand why so many believe we should not engage with the Castro regime, but isn’t it the definition of insanity to repeat the same failed policies over again and expect a different result? The United States must always be a voice of human rights around the world and our engagement with the Cuban government should not be seen as an affirmation of the Cuban government’s record on human rights; however, our policies have not had the intended effect of toppling the Castro government, instead they have directly hurt the Cuban people. It is time to end the embargo and establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Cuban people must be the only ones to determine their own destiny.
My opponent does not agree with me on this issue. He would continue the disastrous embargo policy that has directly hurt the Cuban people. He would continue the policies that prevent families from reuniting, and he would continue the policies that keep us in a Cold War mindset. It is time to turn the page on our engagement with our Caribbean neighbor; it is time to turn the page on our engagement with the world.
If you’d like to help Eloy replace Sires in Congress, he is on the Blue America ActBlue page dedicated to congressional candidates who have endorsed Bernie Sanders and are running on a similar policy agenda. Shortcut: tap the thermometer: