Reelect Raj Mukherji to the State Assembly

headshot_408x594_JPEG.jpgABOUT RAJ

A champion of the middle class and working families, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji proudly represents the 33rd Legislative District (Hudson County) in the New Jersey State Legislature.  He is a businessman, former Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, and former Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve.  He is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at New Jersey City University.

In the Assembly, he sits on the Budget Committee, which is responsible for crafting the Legislature's annual appropriations bill - the entire state budget - proposed at $34.4 billion in FY 2015.  He is also a member of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the Assembly Labor Committee.

At 24, Raj was appointed Commissioner and Chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority, the youngest in city history.  At the state's second largest housing authority, he earned nationwide acclaim for his oversight and various reforms at the $70 million agency serving over 16,000 residents and over 6,700 households.  At 27, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey's second largest city, where he served from 2012-13.  At 28, Raj won the 2013 Democratic primary election for Assembly by a 36-point margin and won the November general election by a 20-point margin, making him the second South Asian to serve in the Legislature in state history.  In addition, he is presently the only Bengali-American state legislator in the United States.

Assemblyman Mukherji is the son of Indian American immigrants.  He supported himself through high school, college, and grad school as an emancipated minor when economic circumstances forced his parents to return to their native India.  After suffering a pituitary tumor, stroke, and other ailments, Raj's father - the late Asim Mukherji, an accountant - could no longer work as a result of his health but could not afford health coverage without employment.  This experience shaped Raj's perspective and interest in healthcare and inspired much of his subsequent advocacy in that field.

Raj had founded an Internet consulting and software development company while in middle school, grew it, and later sold it to a larger technology company to enlist in the Marines two weeks after 9/11 at age 17, where he served in military intelligence for the Marine Corps Reserve.  The young entrepreneur withdrew from high school at 15 to enroll in an early college program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree from Thomas A. Edison State College, an individualized Master of Liberal Arts focused on national security from the University of Pennsylvania, and a law degree (Juris Doctor), cum laude, from Seton Hall Law School.

At 19, Raj cofounded a public affairs firm that he grew into the state’s third largest lawyer-lobbying firm while learning the inner workings of the State House and becoming fascinated by the policymaking and legislative processes in Trenton.  With clients ranging from social justice causes to higher education institutions to government agencies to Fortune 500 corporations, he advocated to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey and replace it with life imprisonment without parole; lobbied for LGBTI equality; worked with the NJEDA and the Business Action Center in successfully advocating for job creation and tax credit incentives; successfully brokered or facilitated complex transactions, including the sales of a nursing home and hospitals; and secured millions in grants or appropriations for hospitals and nonprofit clients and advocated to expand Medicaid and charity care for the underprivileged, a cause especially dear to his heart due to his father’s narrative.

During his tenure as Chairman of the Housing Authority, the JCHA undertook several multimillion dollar transformations of distressed housing developments and also improved its annual Section 8 management score from HUD to the six highest ratings in the agency’s history and the highest in the State among similarly-sized housing authorities.  At the Housing Authority, Raj was first appointed to a fractured Board of Commissioners, replacing a chairperson who was removed by state authorities and later convicted on corruption charges.  He quickly built consensus, repaired the Board's relationships with its staff, and restored public trust in the agency, and today - nearly six years later - the greener, safer, modernized JCHA is lauded as a champion of quality of life enhancements and crime reduction initiatives, energy efficiency and green building practices, policies promoting Section 3 hiring, and an impeccable track record of revitalizing obsolete public housing.

Under Chairman Mukherji’s leadership, the JCHA received acclaim for its new anti-crime and social services initiatives; for using stimulus funds to create a "Green-hab Crew" to renovate units using green technologies; for undertaking a multimillion dollar energy efficiency investment that spanned seven of its complexes; and for the HOPE VI-funded A. Harry Moore revitalization that transformed blighted barracks-style and high-rise “vertical concentrations of poverty” into energy-efficient, privately managed, architecturally distinguished mixed-income communities, providing social and supportive services and attracting low, moderate, and market-rate residents.  Mukherji also spearheaded the start of a $300 million transformation of the Montgomery Gardens-McGinley Square corridor.

 

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