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LD20 Flashpoint: Holley Announces Running Mates

Holley and his team in LD20.

A candidate for the state senate, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20) selected his two running mates for the June 8 primary election.

“It was critical to hand-pick leading Democrats in their community who are beholden to the people, not outdated, machine party politics,” Holley said. “We have learned plenty over these past few years with the current State Senator: Kitchen tables issues, civil rights and social justice have no role in his partisan agenda that excludes so many of us. It is time to return the State Senate seat to the people.”

Holley is challenging incumbent state Senator Joe Cryan (D-20) of Union, who is running in the Democratic Primary with Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) of Elizabeth and Reverend Reginald Atkins of Roselle.

To bring state representation back to Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union Township, Holley said he and his Union County Democratic allies selected Christian Veliz and Diane Murray-Clements to serve as running mates for Holley, both of whom are seeking the Assembly seats in the upcoming primary election.

Veliz, of Elizabeth, who earned a graduate degree from Harvard University, worked for the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, to ensure a fair count among people of color, minority groups and recent arrivals to the United States. As a bilingual, leadership-orientated professional, Veliz has unparalleled financial and business acumen, making him ideal as a state legislator, Holley said.

Of his many professional accomplishments, Veliz worked with a team to implement an outreach strategy to ensure that Spanish-speaking people are engaged, now being implemented across the country, noted the assemblyman and state senate candidate. Through his social media outreach, there was a 32% increase in census goal participation through the greater Elizabeth area.

Veliz is also heavily involved in his hometown of Elizabeth, where served as the mayor’s representative to the Elizabeth Public Library Board of Trustees. He also is a volunteer with the Archdiocese of Newark, serving for many years as a community services coordinator, among many other civic activities.

“My family is committed to community service in Elizabeth and the other communities in the 20th Legislative District,” Veliz said. “I am proud to live here, and to be a public servant. My goal is to finally give a voice to so many of my neighbors and friends, who feel ignored under the current system. It is time for their issues to be addressed.”

Team Holley also welcomes Diane Murray-Clements, born and raised in Hillside, where she served as an at-large councilwoman for three years. She is a small business owner, operating an insurance business for many Fortune 500 companies through her office in Union Township.

Murray-Clements hosts a popular podcast with a national audience, titled “It’s a Sure Thing,” in which she highlights business owners and discusses their issues. Murray-Clements carries a strong faith as a lifelong member of Franklin-St. John’s United Methodist Church in Newark. Over the years, she has held membership in many ministries including Modern Gospel Choir, Girl Scouts as a Troop Leader, and as a trustee of her church.

For more than 30 years, Murray-Clements has demonstrated her commitment and strong advocacy to the district, collecting coats for the needy and chairing several organizations focused on financial literacy education, health, and family.

As an elected official she coordinated the first ever Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration and Senior Valentine’s Day dance. In addition, she partnered with a truck company to deliver collected nonperishables, clothes, and toiletries for victims in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

“As a member of the state Legislature, my focus will be to engage with all people in the legislative district, no matter their social background or economic status,” Murray-Clements said. “I believe that type of representation is sorely lacking in the state Legislature. Through my work as an elected official, I will encourage people to invest in themselves and this legislative district that is so eager for fair and equitable leadership.”

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Johnson, Mukherji & Holley Bill Providing Tax Exemption for Fuel Cell Devices, Systems & Related Products, Services Passes Committee

Aiming to encourage the use of fuel cell devices that produce clean energy, three Assembly Democrats sponsor a bill that would exempt fuel cell devices and systems – as well as other related products and services – from sales and use taxes.

Fuel cells are a source of energy that use fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant to generate electricity without combustion – and therefore no harmful byproducts. As such, the electricity generated by these cells is considered clean energy and can be used as both primary and backup power sources for a variety of buildings and equipment.

Under the bill (A-733), fuel cell devices/systems as well as the hydrogen or propane used in these devices would be exempt from sales and use taxes. The electricity generated by fuel cells and any natural gas and utility service used to co-generate power alongside fuel cells in a facility would also be exempt.

Any tangible, personal property such as electronics and vehicles that are powered solely by a fuel cell device/system could also be sold tax-free under the measure.

Upon the legislation passing the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Monday, Assembly sponsors Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) and Jamel Holley (D-Union) issued the following joint statement:

“Any opportunity we have to encourage the use of clean energy throughout our state is an opportunity we must take as climate change continues to accelerate. Not only do fuel cells provide clean energy, but energy that is also safe and reliable for a wide variety of applications. Exempting fuel cells and their related products and services from taxation will help incentivize their use throughout our state, benefitting every one of us in the long run.”

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Holley Outraged over Party Decision to Abandon Ally Staten in Union Bust-up

Andrea Staten

In anticipation of his Roselle ally, Union County Commissioner Andrea Staten, losing the Democratic Party line, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20) criticized Democratic Party leadership, specifically Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Scutari, for going in another direction.

Holley was livid when he received the news.

“On March 1st, we are going to exclude a black woman,” said the assemblyman, who’s running for the state senate seat off the line against Senator Joe Cryan (D-20).

Staten is apparently a casualty of that collision in the first significant sign of the district senate contest spilling into another corner of the county.

“It’s disgusting,” said Holley. “Nick Scutari should be ashamed of himself, and this will not end well. He should reconsider it because there will be a long-term price to pay. Every woman on that freeholder board should stand up for their sister and the women of this state stand up for this lady, who has a heart of gold and served in local office and on the planning board in Roselle before getting elected to the [commissioners’] board three years ago.

“This is what you get with good ol’ boys in the backroom,” he added. “These are the types of things that take place. This is one more reason why I’m ruing – to take away these barriers and these plantation politics from Union County.” Holley said the organization has also denied positions of influence on the commissioner board.

A source with knowledge of the deal to get rid of Staten said the organization is giving Rahway Councilman James Baker a hard look. A second source said it’s a done deal for Baker.

A local ally of Holley, Staten in June of 2014 was appointed to serve as Third Ward Councilwoman of the Borough of Roselle, filling the unexpired term of the late Councilman Randy T. Sandifer. She was later elected to serve a full three-year term on the Borough Council. Staten served as committee member for the Human Resources and Finance Department, Committee Chair of the Department of Recreation, and a Class Ill Commissioner on the Roselle Planning Board.

She is currently a member of the Union County Democratic Women’s Club. In November 2018, Andrea was elected to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders (now the Commissioners) to serve a three-year term.

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Jamel Lauds Legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey


New Jersey lawmakers finalized the legalization of marijuana this morning, which will end the countless arrests each year in our most struggling communities.

This bill signing followed the will of the voters of New Jersey, who have resoundingly voiced their support for recreational marijuana, projected to generate millions of dollars in new revenue for state coffers each year. 

I am pleased that my colleagues have recognized the critical component of social justice in adopting legalization bills, ensuring that juveniles in our poorest communities are no longer unfairly targeted with arrest and prosecution. I look forward to the swift enactment of this legislation that New Jersey has been waiting months to see happen.

Today’s landmark bill signing finally puts an end to antiquated, ineffective, broken anti-drug law.  It is being replaced with a new business stream for New Jerseyans, based on a smart, sustainable and scalable cannabis market.

Yours, for the 20th Legislative District,


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Jamel Leads the Charge for Fairer Auto Insurance Rates in New Jersey

Jamel is a prime sponsor on a bill designed to finally put an end to auto insurance rates hinging on a driver’s level of education, credit score and employment.

“I have been saying it for years: it is unfair that auto insurers are discriminating against lower-income drivers in New Jersey,” Jamel said. “There is now support in both houses of the Legislature to finally put a stop to it.”

The proposed legislation (A-1657), co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20th Dist), would finally force insurance companies to establish rates based solely on a driver’s driving habits and not his or her socioeconomic status.

According to, Consumer Reports reports that credit score can play a bigger role in determining insurance premiums than almost any other single factor. A New Jersey driver with a clean driving record but poor credit may be forced to pay as much as $1,700 a year more for insurance than a driver with a similar driving history but excellent credit.

“That is like having a couple of tickets on your record,” Jamel said. “It is punishment for being less fortunate than others. Why are the people who are most struggling in New Jersey subsidizing the rich people who live in the right zip codes? When are we putting an end to it? To me, the time is now.”

Jamel introduced the bill with other primary sponsors on January 14. It is now awaiting a hearing in the state Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Other prime sponsors: Sen. Nia Gill, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Sen. Nellie Pou, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.

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Jamel Urges Residents to Support Make Our Schools Safe

Three years ago, 14 students and three educators were senselessly and brutally murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida.

Lori Alhadeff, who has become a very personal friend of mine, lost her daughter Aylissa. Aylissa grew up in NJ and later moved to Florida.

As we all witnessed this tragic Valentine's Day story, Lori never stopped advocating for our children's school safety.

As a result of Lori's efforts, we now have a law named after Aylissa. Aylissa's Law provides schools across the state with the necessary dollars to secure and keep our schools safe to help prevent these incidents from happening again.

As the primary sponsor of the law, it was one of the best pieces of legislation I've worked on because I admired the tenacity and drive of Lori and others that had the continued willingness to protect other children.

I humbly ask that you support Make Our Schools Safe and purchase merchandise to help Lori and others to pass similar laws across the United States. To learn more or purchase, click here.

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ADL and NJ NAACP Sign Joint Agreement to Collaborate in the Fight Against Extremism, White Supremacy, and Antisemitism




Contact:  Alana Burman ([email protected])

                Marcus Sibley ([email protected])

Click Here for the Full Release


ADL and NJ NAACP Sign Joint Agreement to Collaborate in the Fight Against Extremism, White Supremacy, and Antisemitism


New Jersey, February 3, 2021 …ADL NY/NJ Region (the Anti-Defamation League) and the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NJ NAACP) today signed an agreement to expand efforts to collectively combat discrimination, bigotry, bullying and hate crimes in New Jersey.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ADL NY/NJ and NJ NAACP commences the second phase of a multi-year partnership working to fight back against the rising tide of hate crimes and discrimination facing marginalized communities in this state.

The agreement was signed today by Richard Smith, President of NJ NAACP, and Scott Richman, ADL’s NY/NJ Regional Director.

“We will fight racism wherever it rears its ugly head and we will call out anti-Semitism where we see it. We will not allow anyone or anything to drive a wedge between our communities. Over the long haul of the years, we both have proven that we are too strong for that,” NJ NAACP President Richard Smith stated. “Today we re-embrace the spirit of oneness and leave here committed, like never before, to walk, march and fight arm-in-arm as one. We agree that coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.”

The partnership is rooted in shared values between ADL and the NJ NAACP: opposing hate and discrimination; promoting safe and inclusive communities, and protecting people’s civil rights.

“For over a century, ADL and the NAACP have been united in a shared mission to ensure equal rights and dignity under the law,” noted ADL NY/NJ Regional Director Scott Richman.  “We know that the communities we represent face a common enemy in white supremacy and hate, and that we must face this threat by working together.”

As part of the partnership, ADL and NJ NAACP will launch a series of town halls and listening sessions throughout the state to raise awareness among different New Jersey communities about the two organizations’ collaboration and the importance of identifying and reporting incidents of bias and hate. The campaign also aims to build bridges of acceptance and understanding among ADL and NAACP constituents, and to respond with a united voice to racism, antisemitism, and all forms of hate in New Jersey.

To mark this momentous occasion, Senator Cory Booker had a message for the signing to show his support for two civil rights groups.

“This pledge by the ADL and NAACP to build a stronger and more just society together speaks not only to the history of collaboration between the Black and Jewish communities, but also this moment in history,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “We are facing trying times, but by joining together we can fight the scourge of white nationalism and intolerance in our nation as we march towards equality and justice for all.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley also attended and was called on by President Smith to speak.

"The African American and Jewish communities can only build stronger bridges through ongoing communication. That is why I have been one of the leading proponents of this partnership and look forward to playing a leading role in town halls and listening sessions that are being planned," said Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20th Dist.) "Through collaboration, debate and discussion, we can truly mend our fences and sow the seeds for a future where bigotry, hate and anti-Semitism are no longer rooted in our communities. That is why this partnership between the ADL and the NJ NAACP is so critical and why I pray it is everlasting. Together, we are the united voice against the bias that has historically torn so many of our communities apart."

In 2019, ADL tracked 2,107 antisemitic incidents, more than recorded at any other point in the last 40 years. According to recent FBI hate crime data, 2019 was the deadliest year on record with 51 hate crime murders – a 113-percent increase over the previous record of 24 set in 2018. Race-based hate crimes remained the most common type of hate crime (54%), as has been the case every year since the FBI began reporting hate crime data.


ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.




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With Scarce Vaccine, There Are Options to Find Appointments

Vaccines are to be available to anyone who lives, works or studies in New Jersey, and the state is working to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible with the very limited doses available to the state.

The limited vaccine impacts appointment availability and has prompted questions among those eligible for the vaccine on how to get one.

Who can schedule an appointment:

Vaccine eligibility currently includes healthcare workers in Phase 1A; sworn law enforcement and fire professionals who are the first group in Phase 1B to be included; individuals age 65 and over, and those age 16-64 with certain medical conditions.

While people are encouraged to pre-register, there are currently many more people seeking vaccination than appointments available. State health officials continue to work to improve information on sites and accessibility.

How to pre-register and schedule an appointment:

Option 1: Individuals can pre-register for a vaccination appointment using the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) at

As appointments become available, the system will send emails prompting pre-registrants to schedule their first dose. Email notifications will be sent in batches based on recipient eligibility and availability of appointments. The email will contain a link to schedule an appointment with sites using NJVSS, as well as a link to a list of community-based sites that use their own scheduling system.

Option 2: Individuals can make appointments online or by phone at open sites listed by county. There are megasites and other community-based sites serving as vaccination points of dispensing that have their own registration systems. Additional sites continue to be added.

Please see below the link to make online appointments:

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Wimberly, Quijano, Holley, Timberlake & McKnight Bill to Set New Regulation for Possession, Personal Use Advances to Governor’s Desk, Clears Legislature

Moving to create more equitable laws on the possession and personal use cannabis and establish expedited and virtual expungements, the full Assembly approved legislation Thursday, 64-12-3, sponsored by Assembly members Benjie Wimberly, Annette Quijano, Jamel Holley, Britnee Timberlake, and Angela McKnight. The Senate approved the bill 31-2.

“This is only one piece of the many parts of change that must be done in the name of social justice for our communities. The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of people and affecting families irreparably for decades,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The action we take now to help our black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by current laws surrounding cannabis use is critical to trauma for future generations.”

“There have been far too many people, especially those from Black and Hispanic communities, who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Quijano (D-Union). “There have been long term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color. This legislation is the product of taking a hard look at our current laws, listening to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taking a common-sense approach to cannabis offenses.”

The bill (A-1897) provides for certain criminal and civil justice reforms, particularly with respect to legal consequences associated with certain cannabis offenses as well as broadening awareness of available expungement relief.

“Black New Jerseyans are up to four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than White people. It is a sad fact, a further painful reminder that so people in our communities have been disenfranchised for far too long,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union). “There have always been glaring social justice concerns and obvious inequity in the high number of arrests of minority residents. Now, finally, is the time for it to stop.”

New Jersey law enforcement officers made over 24,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, more than in the previous 20 years – approximately one every 22 minutes. African Americans are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis passion than white New Jerseyans, despite similar usage rates with white counterparts. Cannabis possession arrests also constituted three out of five drug arrests in 2012.

The state spends approximately $127 million per year on cannabis possession enforcement costs.

“It’s time for the change we seek,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “New Jersey residents are not happy with the status quo and we need to move in a direction of compassion for the communities that have long been targeted by current regulatory criteria. The call for action, for social justice reform, is resounding throughout our nation. And it begins with legislation such as this.”

“Decriminalization and expungement for those who have been disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana offenses is well overdue in New Jersey and many other states throughout this nation,” said Timberlake (D-Essex). “A criminal marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, obtain gainful employment, receive housing support, and address child custody issues.  Not all communities are impacted equally by marijuana enforcement, measures to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal records are ones of racial, social, and economic justice. This legislation is about social justice for a people who have endured the inequities in the law for generations.”

The bill would regrade the unlawful distribution of, or possessing or having under control with intent to distribute, less than five pounds of marijuana or less than one pound of hashish.

Under current law, distribution of less than five pounds, but at least one ounce or more, of marijuana, or distribution of less than one pound, but at least five grams or more, of hashish, is punishable as a crime of the third degree; this crime can be punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.  Distribution of any smaller amounts, that is, less than one ounce of marijuana or less than five grams of hashish, is punishable as a crime of the fourth degree; this crime can be punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

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Jamel Congratulates Elizabeth Native for Reaching the Super Bowl

Todd Bowles, a football standout at Elizabeth High School, who went on to a career as a NFL safety and then head coach of the New York Jets, is heading to the Super Bowl in Tampa as the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bowles, from the Class of 1981, famously returned to Elizabeth in 2016 as the city’s waterfront football field has been renamed in his honor.

“Todd Bowles, an Elizabeth native-turned-Super Bowl champion for the Redskins in 1988, has come to symbolize hope for Elizabeth’s future,” Jamel said, noting that Bowles presented the city schools with a $25,000 check, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

“We could not be more proud of a native son of Elizabeth heading back to the big game,” Jamel said. “While we may not all be Buccaneer fans, we are all certainly Todd Bowles fans.”

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