Rep. Menendez talks housing, immigration, Gaza, & more at Hoboken Town Hall


U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) discussed several topics including housing, immigration, women’s rights, Gaza, and much more, at a Hoboken Town Hall last night.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The event was hosted at the Hudson Tea Building by 1st Ward Councilman Paul Presinzano, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, former Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, and Liz Urtecho.

All four council members have endorsed Menendez and Council President Jen Giattino was in attendance as well, with Fisher and Ramos serving as the moderators for the evening.

“My dad was the mayor of Union City when I was in elementary school … I kept winning science fairs and people said my father was leaning on the judges, so they anonymized them, and I still won … I feel like in this moment, I have something to offer,” Menendez, whose chief opponent is Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, said during introductory remarks.

Early on, he was asked about his legislative priorities for the next session.

“We always want to continue to produce and bring back for your district. Affordability continues to be the number one challenge. Expanded child tax credit lifted 50 percent of children out of poverty. Too many families feel like they’re doing everything right … parents are both working full-time jobs … and at the end of the month they don’t feel like they’re getting ahead,” the congressman said.

When asked about what legislative action he’s taken, Menendez said he put his name on the Working Families Task Force Act, which has federal agencies working together to help create solutions, as well as signing on to an affordable housing and homelessness package introduced by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

There were also several questions posed about women’s reproductive rights.

“I was running for office when the Dobbs decision came out. It’s a really dire situation, we sign onto to every piece of legislation related to reproductive freedom that is proposed. Outside of New Jersey, what states were Planned Parenthood serving?” Menendez asked.

“It was actually New York, so woman in New York were not able to get care they needed, so they came to New Jersey. The impact of not having federal legislation impacts people, care providers in New Jersey, too many individuals. It’s great to be in New Jersey, we’ve done so much right. But we saw what happened in Alabama with IVF … The scary thing about this is it’s all about control.”

Similarly, several people in the room of about 100 wanted to know the freshman congressman’s stance on immigration.

“I went to our southern border twice in my first year, I sit on Homeland Security. Since we’re in the minority and we’ve clearly made this their priority, we need to do a decoupling on immigration policy … When you saw the Senate negotiations, a lot of it was really bad immigration policy: it was fundamentally changing our asylum process without doing anything for Dreamers,” he opined.

” … Imagine you were living in a place where you felt there was no future for you? So you make a decision that you’re going to sell all your worldly possessions to a cartel, you trust a cartel more for than your government … Just saying ‘everybody out’ is not a solution … A lot of the solutions Republicans are suggesting now are weaponizing immigrants.”

When asked about the tragic situation in Gaza, Menendez said it is important to hone in on how much suffering is going on in the Middle East before saying he supports a two-state solution.

“There’s just pain on all sides of it, this is just an excruciating situation … We need to acknowledge the pain that people feel, that this has been a traumatic several months for folks,” he began, noting that his good friend, Jersey City Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh, lost a cousin in West Bank.

“I believe in a two-state solution … we need to create a solution that recognizes the challenges … We need to create space for folks to engage in that conversation, it’s a difficult environment. There are hostages still in Gaza. Do we have concerns about how Israel is conducting itself? Absolutely. We need to hold all parties accountable. Part of this job is doing hard work, taking on challenges … We know at the end of the day what everyone wants is to live their lives in peace.”

He also said that realistically, it’s going to take a lot of time to build trust amongst all sides, which currently doesn’t exist at all.

Inevitably, some others asked about what he thought about Bhalla challenging him.

“Ravi endorsed me in 2022, did robocalls, we campaigned in Hoboken together. Frankly, I knew that he was interested in the seat in 2022 and I was thankful to have his support … I wish I had saved all the thank you notes Ravi had sent me before he decided to run against me. What’s changed is the issues with my father and he saw a political opportunity,” he asserted.

“Now listen, we know that he’s gonna want to use this and try to bludgeon me with it, it is what it is, it’s a political strategy. Some people may be impacted by my father and the challenges he’s having, I understand that. But I trust people to distinguish between us … and I trust people to let me make my case … There’s no nexus between the legal case between my father and myself. That’s the reality: We have not been accused of any wrongdoing, we’re not involved in this case … to suggest otherwise, that to me, is just disrespectful to the voter.”

In an interview after the roughly 90-minute event concluded, Menendez called Bhalla “a political opportunist,” echoing what he said when he announced re-election, stating that he didn’t believe voters what buy what he’s selling before again talking about his own record.

“The results speak for themselves and I think people know and look at what we’ve done, how productive we’ve been, especially for Hoboken, we’ve been wildly productive for Hoboken, including the Union Dry Dock issue, helping bring federal dollars back to the city, back to Stevens Institute, we’ve done the work,” he exclaimed.

” … We’re making sure we take on the gun lobby and fight for gun violence prevention, and we’re also fighting to ensure we bring back reproductive access for women across the country … We’ve brought back an immense amount of infrastructure money, $11 billion for the Gateway program and the Northeast Corridor … The thing about running for re-election is to build off this foundation that we’ve created for our first term in office.”

The primary election is on June 4th, with a third Democrat, Kyle Jasey, also on the ballot in 8th Congressional District.

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  1. Waving in anonymous millions at the border is “the solution” of the Democrat-Cartel Alliance. Child trafficking, women raped and abuse and fentanyl flowing and killing over 100,000 Americans annually.

    That’s the solution but it’s not an American solution. Who ordered it? Ravi endorsed it.

  2. Ravi made Hoboken a Sanctuary City. When Trump was president, he’d rush to the airport to complain about illegals being “mistreated.” Now’s he’s completely silent. Doesn’t he want Hoboken to get its fair share?