Tis the season for lists. So here goes. The brightest stars in 2014 include the well-known and the less well known. Some are newcomers and some have been with us for years. Some hold powerful jobs while others convey a powerful message.
Go below the fold to celebrate these people and read why they shine brightly.
Feel free to add your own stars. There are many more out there.
Ras Baraka – Against the wishes of both the county executive and George Norcross, he became Mayor of Brick City, besieged by police, education, and finance monitors, but retaining his reformist zeal.
Aimee Belgard (D) – Running in CD 3 against carpet-bagger Tom MacArthur, who won the contest after self-financing his campaign to the tune of $5 million, she came the closest of Democratic challengers to flip a district.
Shawn Boburg – A Bergen Record reporter, he broke the story on what soon became known as Bridgegate.
Roy Cho – He led the battle for CD 4 with more smarts, charm and money than his recent predecessors but failed to breach the Garrett castle.
– Jamie Fox – Recently appointed commissioner of transportation and long a star (he served in senior positions under five Governors) he may become a star anew. Hopes are pinned on him to build bridges (literally and metaphorically) to create a viable source for on-going funding of our transportation needs.
Don Guardian – Defender and the mayor of Atlantic City he has been striving mightily to cut his budget, gain state financial support, fight off casinos in the north, diversify his economy, and aid his hurting city – a herculean task.
Larry Ham – Newark’s Chairman of People’s Organization for Progress, he has for years been “taking it to the streets” in support of quality education, employment, access to health care and against racial profiling, and police brutality.
Kaci Hickox – A nurse returning from aiding Ebola patients in Africa, she was ordered by Christie to be detained outdoors in an ill-equipped tent and sentenced to 21 days there, but her determination and indignation won her an early release.
Rush Holt – In CD 12, a leader for our times, the representative spread good ideas like Johnny Appleseed spread seeds and is about to lead the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Jim Keady – An Asbury Park councilman, as one of many he sought to express a concern, this time about Sandy reconstruction, at a “Town Hall” meeting. Christie said to him, “Shup up. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here, buddy!” They did not appear to be buddies, and it’s unclear whether Christie was ever there without cameras.
Ray Lesniak – As a state senator, he champions issues of all kinds including gay marriage, and this year took on the inhumane caging of pigs which peeved our Supreme Leader who now loves Iowa more than New Jersey.
Thais Marques – A Newark student leader and rally participant, she testified before the Assembly Budget Committee saying, “Governor Christie’s $56 million deduction of public school aid will impact the most at-risk students.”
Clement Price – A distinguished Rutgers history professor, with wisdom, leadership, common sense and grace, he became Mr. Newark, but sadly passed away this year.
Babs Siperstein and Andrea “Andy” Bowen – They are out and proud advocates for our transgender community.
Bruce Springsteen – Although worshipped by Gov. Christie, New Jersey’s rock star had no hesitancy attacking the governor on the Tonight Show.
Jim Tedesco – Former Paramus mayor and freeholder, against the odds, he defeats long-time power player incumbent Republican Kathe Donovan to become Bergen county executive.
Bonnie Watson Coleman – Former Democratic state party chair and assemblywoman, she becomes New Jersey’s first African American woman representative (CD 12) with plenty of progressive creds and courage to speak out.
Loretta Weinberg – Whether it’s the Port Authority Terminal, Bridgegate, or women’s health, the senate majority leader speaks truth to power and people listen – even Gov. Christie who thought reporters should “take the bat” to her.
John S. Wisniewski – With a steady hand as co-chair, the assemblyman has guided the Select Committee on Investigation through rough and seamy waters and brought to us the troubling phrase, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” which remains both an indictment and an ongoing mystery.