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Election Profile: Karlito Almeda For NJ 39th Assembly

Patch logo Patch 5/19/2021 Montana Samuels
Maria Rheza Mae Rubio et al. posing for a photo: Almeda, 26, a Mahwah resident, is a graduate of Ramapo College, and a Deputy Legislative Director for Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. © Shutterstock Almeda, 26, a Mahwah resident, is a graduate of Ramapo College, and a Deputy Legislative Director for Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

NJ 39TH — Karlito Almeda is one of six total candidates hoping to land an Assembly seat in New Jersey's 39th District, and one of two Democrats running.

Almeda, 26, a Mahwah resident, is a graduate of Ramapo College, and a Deputy Legislative Director for Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

He hopes to win the seat, paving a path forward for not only the young people who are entering a job market facing "one of the worst economic downturns of our time," but to also address community problems across the district.

Learn more about Almeda and his platform in this Patch Q&A.

Why are you seeking office in this election?

Right now, my peers are entering the job market in one of the worst economic downturns of our time and as a result more young adults live at home with their parents than since the Great Depression. We need Legislators that represent us - the working families wondering in the middle of the night how they’re going to pay for their family’s medical bills, food, rent, mortgages; the grandmothers who worries she won’t be able to afford to live in the community she raised her family in, my peers who want their own chance at the American dream - a good job, affordable housing, a clean environment and quality healthcare. As a public servant, climate activist, and community organizer I see that we need independent leaders that speak for the people. This is why I’m building a community movement – where change is by us.

What is the single most important issue you’d like to tackle in this role, and what is your plan to address it?

Revitalizing our infrastructure and rethinking transportation. The State and the nation are at an inflection point, and the Biden administration is on the cusp of ushering in a Golden Age for infrastructure. This is key for the State because how we think about infrastructure and transportation has the potential to improve the air we breathe, the water we drink, the internet we use, address income inequality, and help communities of color. For example, one way we can all take part in the fight for a more sustainable future and reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050 is by changing how our mass transit systems, which is the largest statewide system in the nation, consumes energy. Without reexamining how Transit operates, the State will not be able to live up to the goals outlined in the ambitious Energy Master Plan published by the Governor one year ago.

A legislator cannot solve an issue by themselves, but they can serve as a spokesperson for a movement. This is how I plan to serve and creating the most impact. Through advocacy, education, and legislation I plan to help steer the State towards a more sustainable and renewable future.

The coronavirus pandemic had a major impact on many aspects of life. What are your plans for the future when it comes to offering assistance to those impacted by the pandemic, and where do you think is the best place to start?

The pandemic changed a lot of us. My family, like many, has had changes in employment, felt isolation, and lost loved ones. One thing that I have noticed throughout the thousands of Zoom calls I’ve participated in during work, was how many parents struggled with balancing between caring for their child and work. We've seen and heard many instances where parents have had to sacrifice themselves, and forgo employment in order to keep their children engaged in virtual school. All while trying to balance their own mental health. There is no one fix, but we can aim to build things better. We can fight to make sure everyone has childcare so that folks can return to work, the state can increase aid to schools so students can increase their formative experiences, and invest in our infrastructure so that we can have access to good paying jobs while saving our environment.

In addition to that primary issue, what are the other pillars or your campaign platform?

Advocacy, education, and labor. Society benefits from an engaged citizenry, but it has been difficult to compete with national media and there has been a decline in local news coverage with decreasing subscriptions, which has led to less reporters on the ground. We need more elected officials who put themselves out to the public, that are easily accessible, and can inspire the next generation of leaders. In my time working in the Senate, the majority of the legislation or policies we’ve advocated for was because a community member or advocacy group came to our office and we picked up the phone and listened.

I also believe that part of the path towards a better future hinges on the new labor movement. We need to support workers’ right to organize because unions make wages higher, increase safety precautions at work, increase our quality of life, and do a lot of work to increase awareness.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

One of my biggest achievements in the Legislature has been guiding a package of sexual assault reform legislation, which had unanimous support on a bipartisan basis that were signed into law this past April. These bills were the work of Katie Brennan, who channeled her experiences into positive change. To me and to many these are not just laws, but an example of how our government can help lives when you have the right leaders in office. Serving in the Legislature isn’t about fighting or opposing everything. It’s about being an advocate, knowing when to seize the moment for change, and working with people.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

You only have two things in life - your word and your name. Be true to both.

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

I’m a 26-year-old first generation Filipino American, lifelong Democrat, and resident of Mahwah running to represent you, District 39, in the Assembly. With my generation concerned about their shot at the American Dream and the environment, I’m running to bring fresh leadership to Trenton and make sure all our voices are heard.

I love to cook, when I'm not working I like to experiment with new recipes. My friends and family say I'm pretty good at basting a steak. I've also been a music enthusiast and enjoy going to metal concerts (pre-covid) and playing the guitar.

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