My name is Russ Cirincione. I’m a dad and a public servant. As a government attorney, I fight for housing justice, and I’m a loud voice for housing rights. I’ve dedicated my career to serve the public good and protect affordable housing. I’ve often stood up to big money and their lawyers in fancy suits in courtrooms. Now I’m taking the fight for the People to the federal level. I’ve drafted laws, one recently passed in June 2019 that protects tenants from predatory lending practices. So I have experience as a legislator. But we need more than just a law drafter. We need a champion for the working People of America.
As a father, my two year old son is the most important part of my life. His future is in our hands now. How we deal with the climate crisis will shape the world he lives in. Will it be a dystopian wasteland filled with drought, heatwaves, mass migrations, starvation, and death? That’s for us to decide. I’m choosing to do everything I can with every ounce of strength in my body to protect our homes and our families.
We need people to represent us, people with the courage to stand up to the powerful fossil fuel industry. We must go 100% renewable energy by 2030. This is about cleaning up the forests, the air we breathe, and the water we drink, and switching to a renewable age of clean energy. I have the courage to do so, because I’ve done it for years.
For far too long, the 99% has been neglected by our government. The status quo has focused on maintaining corporate profits, but not the People. We face several crises as a nation, and we need People standing up and fighting for justice and for our causes.
My wife teaches special needs students. Her dedication to enriching children’s lives inspires me. But our schools are underfunded and teachers spend their own money for school supplies. This is absolutely unacceptable. That’s why I’ll fight for increasing the federal education budget, so teachers don’t have to go out of pocket for supplies, and so property taxes won’t have to increase every year to fund local schools.
My wife and I don’t make the big bucks. Because of rising housing costs, we couldn’t afford a house in the neighborhoods we grew up in. We were gentrified out, so we found the best place possible to raise our family. Like many people before us, my wife, my son, and I moved to Old Bridge over a year ago. We love it here – the good schools, the low(ish) property taxes, and the People here. During college at Seton Hall, I lived in New Jersey, so I’m thankful for the education I obtained here. My wife and I reconnected at the Jersey Shore and spent several summers there. These are some of the reasons why I love New Jersey so much, and why we will call it home for the rest of our lives.
Every morning, I commute on a bus for three hours to and from work in downtown Manhattan. My life is like the millions of people who commute long hours, away from our families, to make a living. We spend way too much time in traffic and we need updates for our growing population. New Jersey needs fast and cheap commuting options, like new high speed rails, electric buses, and better infrastructure. We also need local jobs, so that most of us don’t have to spend so much time commuting to work every morning. That’s why I’m fighting for investing in America first, in new jobs, new transportation, and new energy, with the Green New Deal.
Growing up, my family was lucky. My mother stayed at home to raise my brother and I, until I was in high school. She went back to work as a teacher about 12 years ago, because one income is not enough to get by. Having one parent home with the kids is such a rarity nowadays. I think we need to do everything we can to get back to that. Parents should bond with their children. One good job should be enough for a family. We used to have the highest standard of living in the world, but that’s changed over the years, due to a decline in unions. That’s why I’ll fight for strong unions and a living wage.
I went to a good high school. I couldn’t afford college, and I have student loans. My parents encouraged college – they said I had to be competitive. My high school guidance counselor said, “just go to the best school you can get into, you’ll pay your loans off. Eventually.” At 18, I believed what I was told by my authority figures. But at 18, I had no idea it would leave us with over $200,000 in student debt. The reality is, the high cost of college traps 44 million Americans by soul crushing debt. It drains our economy and prevents us from achieving our full potential. It’s affected our ability to retire, move out of our parents house, buy our own homes, start a family, or start up a new business. Many people in our district have said the same. Some couldn’t afford tuition, even though they wanted to go to school, and took the first job they could get out of high school. After law school, I finally was able to move out of my parents house at 27 years old.
Even the opportunities I had are dwindling for many Americans. I’d like everyone in this country to have it far, far, better than I did. We need free public college for all, free vocational training and cancellation of all student debt. This is about opportunity for all and having the best educated work force of the future. We’re falling behind – 10 countries have a higher percentage of college educated people. If we want a democracy, we need free thinking people, so we can understand how the world affects us. Free public college will provide that.
In college at Seton Hall, in South Orange, New Jersey, the high cost of on campus dorms forced me to move to off campus apartments for my junior and senior years. For two years, I dealt with landlords that wouldn’t fix the heat when it shut off during cold winter nights. I remember sleeping with my back on the furnace in an unfinished basement trying to stay warm, just waiting for it to be fixed. The electric systems would fail when we plugged in our phone chargers.
When I graduated undergrad in 2009, the market had crashed. I remember when the bailout bill passed, trillions of dollars were created overnight but millions of people would face foreclosure and had no bailouts. I thought that was unjust – where was the bailout for main street?
I went to law school because I wanted to understand how to navigate the legal system. As an attorney, I’ve chosen to defend affordable housing and tenants’ rights in court. I’m often up against unscrupulous landlords and corporate attorneys in fancy suits. I’ve heard them argue almost anything to make an extra buck. Some landlords even try to deny tenants’ rights to organize. Some will even harass a tenant if they complain about sub par conditions in their buildings, like rodents or dirty hallways. In one case, tenants complained about the owner’s loud barking german shepherd. The dog was often left in the hallway to run wild. Once the tenant Claire was chased into her apartment by the growling dog and complained. She was afraid of being bitten. The landlord decided to get mad about the complaint, rather than fix the problem. He pounded on Claire’s front door, and when she opened up the door, he stuck a gun in her face and threatened her life for complaining. Because we have very few federal rent protections, Tenants are at the mercy of their local and state government. We need to invest in affordable housing and fund near-zero interest mortgages for everyone, because housing is a human right.
If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that big money only cares about one thing: more money. Their interests are always against ours. They can always afford to hire expensive lawyers that argue the rules don’t apply to them. That’s why rich people get short sentences for criminal activity, or are not prosecuted at all. But working people are usually left fending for ourselves and often the law is heavy handed for those without adequate representation. My litigation experience taught me that it takes an army of people willing to stand up and demand our rights, and justice, for all of us. We need more public servants willing to fight that fight for us. We may be the underdog in this fight, but not for long. The 99% is awakening and knows that we must demand justice for ourselves and our families.
The incumbent has represented this district for 30 years. He opposes Medicare for All, and has said so publicly. He’s said “no” to going green renewable energy by 2030 and the Green New Deal. He’s said no to improving our lives and is out of touch with the constituents. I’m sick and tired of waiting for him to fight for my son’s future. So I decided to do it myself.
We need strong representation in Congress willing to speak truth to power and address the crises of our time. Representation that will fight end the influence of big money. Big corporations and lobbyists ought to never, ever, influence any legislative decision. I want to work to build a system that listens to the People. One that only cares about protecting and empowering all of us. One that prioritizes investing in Americans first, not the endless wars, not the banks, but the People.
In today’s politics, it’s not enough to just be “Not-Trump”. I’m done with being told what is “politically possible” by the establishment that benefits from the things the way they are. I’m pissed that the establishment telling me they won’t lead the fight to make my son’s life better. I’m sick of our protests falling on deaf ears. We deserve leaders, not those that only resist the radical right wing of republicans. They need to get out of the way of those willing to actually listen to the People first and champion our causes.
Now, more than ever, we need a leader with the courage to demand bold action that the People want. That’s why we are demanding Medicare for All, 100% renewable energy, and ending corruption. We need new ideas and a new vision for America, for the future. Government is supposed to prioritize the important things, the things that help our country and our people make progress.
And I’m not waiting until the June election to start changing things in New Jersey. Our campaign has been canvassing for local issues. We helped keep Edison’s water supply under local control, out of the hands of profiteer water companies that would raise rates and lower quality. We canvassed a township that went 100% renewable energy by 2035 via a voter referendum. I’ve been speaking out in favor of 100% renewable energy projects in New Jersey this year as our Governor and State decide whether new fossil fuel projects will be built in our townships, further destroying our great State’s nature preserves.
Join us today, by chipping in a few bucks, so we can fight for the People, you and your families. Together, we will make an America, that works, for all of us.