Raymond Lesniak

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Raymond Lesniak
Raymond J. Lesniak.png
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 20th Legislative District
Assumed office
June 16, 1983
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 20th Legislative District
In office
January 12, 1982 – June 16, 1983
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 21st Legislative District
In office
January 10, 1978 – January 12, 1982
Personal details
Born (1946-05-07) May 7, 1946 (age 69)
Political party Democratic
Residence Elizabeth, New Jersey
Alma mater A.B. Rutgers University (Economics)
J.D. St. John's University School of Law
Occupation Attorney
Website Legislative web page
http://raymondlesniak.com/

Raymond J. "Ray" Lesniak (born May 7, 1946) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 1983, where he represents the 20th Legislative District. Before entering New Jersey's upper house, the Senate, Lesniak served in the General Assembly from 1978 to 1983.[1] Lesniak is considered a major power broker in the Democratic Party, having served as New Jersey Democratic State Chairman and New Jersey Chair for Clinton/Gore and Gore/Lieberman. Lesniak is running for governor in 2017.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Lesniak grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969, then earned his A.B. in Economics from Rutgers University in 1971, and his J.D. from St. John's University School of Law in 1974.[1] He is an attorney with the firm Weiner Lesniak.[1]

Lesniak is ethnically Polish.

Political career[edit]

In 1980, Lesniak ran for the office of Mayor of Elizabeth. He was defeated by incumbent mayor Thomas G. Dunn, whom he challenged in the Democratic primary election.[3] Dunn scored about 7,100 votes to Lesniak's 6,600 while about 2,000 went to David Conti, the challenger who came 276 votes away from toppling Dunn in 1976 and was (in 1980) endorsed by the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County.[citation needed]

Subsequently, Dunn orchestrated Lesniak's removal from the 'party line' -- a preferred ballot position aligned with almost all other incumbents—when it was time for the lawmaker to seek re-election to the General Assembly in 1981. Party leaders did not inform Lesniak about his loss of support until two days before the petition filing deadline. Elizabeth Health Director John Surmay was selected to replace Lesniak on the ballot between Sen. John T. Gregorio and Assemblyman Thomas J. Deverin, his prior running mates.[citation needed]

Building on the organization assembled during his race for mayor, the Elizabeth Democratic Association, Lesniak waged a campaign with support from organized labor, environmentalists, minority communities, and others. On June 6, 1981, Lesniak won renomination with approximately 20% more than the number of votes cast for Deverin and almost twice as many ballots as Dunn's proxy, Surmay.[4]

In a June 1983 special election, Lesniak won the Senate seat of John T. Gregorio who was forced to vacate his office after being convicted of hiding his ownership of a pair of Linden go-go bars.[5]

Lesniak serves on the Economic Growth Committee (as Chair), Commerce Committee (as Vice-Chair), the Legislative Services Commission, the Judiciary Committee and the Legislative Oversight Committee.[1]

Lesniak has also been involved in national politics over the course of his tenure. In 1996, he was Chairman of the New Jersey Clinton-Gore Presidential Campaign, and in 2000 he was a key insider in the Al Gore campaign. Lesniak served as Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, and Chairman of the 1997 Jim McGreevey campaign for Governor of New Jersey.

Legislation[edit]

Early in his tenure, he sponsored landmark environmental policies, such as the Environmental Cleanup Responsibility Act (ECRA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Pesticide Control Act, making New Jersey first-in-the-nation to tackle such issues. The laws hold polluters responsible for their actions and have resulted in cleaner drinking water for New Jersey residents.[6]

Lesniak has championed the abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey (after having voted for its reinstatement in 1982[7]); the Marriage Equality Act; and environmental initiatives to clean up one of the most heavily industrialized regions in the nation.[8] He has worked with The Humane Society and other animal rights organizations.[9]

In 2014, Lesniak announced his plan to pass a bill that would legalize sports betting for racetracks and casinos in New Jersey, challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. [10]

District 20[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 20th district for the 2014-2015 Legislative Session are:[11]

First BankAmericano directorship[edit]

On February 9, 2010, The Wall Street Journal published a copy of a letter[12] from Senator Robert Menendez to the Federal Reserve pushing for approval of a deal for the sale of First BankAmericano of Elizabeth where State Senator Lesniak served on the Board of Directors.[13] A media controversy arose due to BankAmericano’s political connections. Its board members included several major campaign contributors to Menendez — among them State Senator Lesniak. Following the media controversy over the bailout request, it was disclosed that Lesniak had also received "insider loans" from the bank.[14] Prior to the bailout request, First BankAmericano had been under financial pressure for more than a year because of mounting loan losses. A highly critical report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.(FDIC) also found the institution had engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices, including "operating without adequate supervision by its board of directors", an excessive level of delinquent or bad loans, inadequate earnings and insufficient coverage of its assets.[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1982, Lesniak was named "Citizen of the Year" by Polish American World, and "Man of the Year" in 1991, by the Jewish National Fund, and the American Cancer Society. In 2003, he was awarded "Legislator of the Year" by the Medical Society of New Jersey for working to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, expanding the PAAD low-cost prescription drug program to cover more seniors and expanding cancer and diabetes research and education.[16]

Lesniak was the grand marshal of the Pulaski Day Parade in New York City in 2004.[17]

In 2009, Lesniak won the Mémorial de Caen International Human Rights Award in Normandy, France; only one of two Americans to ever do so, with the speech "The Road To Justice and Peace."[18]

On September 30th 2014, the Raymond J. Lesniak Experience, Strength and Hope Recovery High School on the Kean University campus was inaugurated, New Jersey's first recovery high school, a program designed for youths battling drug and alcohol addiction. Lesniak, who championed the creation of the program has sponsored legislation to start similar schools in New Jersey.[19]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[20]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Raymond J. Lesniak (incumbent) 21,251 100.0
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[21]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Raymond J. Lesniak (incumbent) 12,510 75.5
Republican Helen S. Rosales 4,052 24.5
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Raymond J. Lesniak (incumbent) 9,760 58.7
Republican Linda Gaglione 4,478 26.9
Independent Stanley J. Moskal 2,397 14.4
Democratic hold


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Senator Lesniak's legislative webpage, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed February 14, 2008.
  2. ^ http://www.politickernj.com/max/32791/despite-polls-lesniak-confident-blue-state-coupled-christie-stumbles
  3. ^ Staff (October 24, 2013). "The Joe D-Dunn Connection". PolitickerNJ. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ 1983 Special Elections to Fill Vacancies in the State Legislature", State of New Jersey. Accessed July 15, 2010.
  6. ^ http://vote-nj.org/politicianissue.aspx?state=nj&id=njlesniakraymondj&issue=cnjenvironment
  7. ^ "Editorial - Mr. Lesniak Changes His Mind". The New York Times. June 10, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2015. In 1982, when he was a young member of the New Jersey Assembly, Mr. Lesniak voted with the majority to reinstate the state’s death penalty. 
  8. ^ http://magazine.rutgers.edu/alumni-notes/truth-teller
  9. ^ http://www.hslf.org/news/press-releases/hslf-endorses-lesniak.html
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ "Legislative Roster 2014-2015 Session". New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez defends bailout request for struggling BankAmericano in Elizabeth, The Star-Ledger, February 9, 2010
  14. ^ Lesniak, other insiders got loans at failed bank
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^ http://www.goleader.com/07election/raylesniak.htm
  17. ^ http://www.goleader.com/07election/raylesniak.htm
  18. ^ http://politickernj.com/2009/02/senator-lesniak-wins-international-human-rights-competition/
  19. ^ http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2014/10/union_count_opens_recovery_high_school_aiding_students_battling_to_stay_sober.html
  20. ^ "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/05/2015 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. December 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2015. 
  21. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 22, 2012.
  22. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 22, 2012.

External links[edit]

New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
John T. Gregorio
Member of the New Jersey Senate for the 20th District
June 16, 1983 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
C. Louis Bassano
Chuck Hardwick
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly for the 20th District
January 12, 1982 – June 16, 1983
With: Thomas J. Deverin
Succeeded by
Thomas W. Long
Preceded by
John T. Gregorio
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly for the 21st District
January 10, 1978 – January 12, 1982
With: Thomas J. Deverin
Succeeded by
Chuck Hardwick
Edward K. Gill