Senator Sandra B. Cunningham was sworn in today to her first full, four-year term in the State Senate and pledged to focus her legislative efforts on educational opportunities for children, economic development for urban areas and job training programs for released offenders.
“I consider my role in the Senate to be a tremendous honor given to me by the people of the 31st Legislative District,” said Senator Cunningham. “But it is also a serious responsibility of mine to reflect the will and the needs of the communities in my district.”
Senator Cunningham, whose district includes Bayonne and parts of Jersey City, already has been named to the Senate Democratic Leadership Team as Majority Whip, a position responsible for negotiating agreements among her colleagues on important legislation.
“I see the new school funding formula as a topic of great significance because of its potential risk to the many Abbott children who attend schools in my district and throughout New Jersey,” said Senator Cunningham who opposed the measure when it was considered by the Senate on Monday.
“The new funding formula must be monitored closely to ensure that efforts over the past several decades to help poor, urban children achieve a thorough and efficient education are not squandered just as they are becoming effective,” Senator Cunningham said.
“So far, we have pledges and promises that programs will be sustained, but we need to see results,” she added.
Senator Cunningham said she also planned to support proposals that provide tax and development incentives in urban centers and would continue to monitor the redevelopment initiatives that have been unveiled in both Bayonne and Jersey City.
“Businesses need incentives in the form of tax relief to make long-term investments,” Senator Cunningham said.
Of particular interest to Senator Cunningham is a proposal she is developing to help offenders find employment through a statewide expansion of Jersey City’s Second Chance Program which has found employment for recently released offenders at the city’s incinerator authority.
“Our young people are our future and we need to help those who have been incarcerated realize that they have a future if they develop the skills they need to get meaningful career opportunities,” Senator Cunningham said.
Senator Cunningham was chosen late last year to fill the term vacated when Senator Joseph V. Doria Jr. became Community Affairs Commissioner. It is the same Senate seat held by her late husband, Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham who died in office in May of 2004.