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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“It was critical to hand-pick leading Democrats in their community who are beholden to the people, not outdated, machine party politics,” Holley said.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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