Run for the 33rd Local candidates for the state Assembly seats

(Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two part series on local candidates running for the two available state Assembly seat in the 33rd Districts. This week, the focus is on candidates Nicole Garcia and Caridad Rodriguez. Next week, Carol Marsh and Ruben Ramos will be profiled.)

The June 5th primary is fast approaching and among the most coveted positions are the two available seats in the 33rd District of the New Jersey Assembly, which encompasses the municipalities of Guttenberg, Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, West New York, and part of Jersey City.

Running for the seats are four candidates: Nicole Garcia and Carol Marsh supported by the longstanding Hudson County Democratic Organization, and Caridad Rodriguez and Ruben Ramos supported by the newly formed Democrats for Hudson County.

This is the first of two articles, which will profile the four candidates in no particular order. This week will highlight Nicole Garcia and Caridad Rodriguez.


A life long Hudson County resident and democrat, Nicole Harrison Garcia has been in the political arena for many years, although this is her first attempt at elected office.

“As long as I can remember, [my family] had a very strong sense of responsibility for the electoral process,” said Garcia.

Garcia graduated from St. Dominic’s Academy and Seton Hall University with a degree in communications and minor in political science.

Some of the strongest role models in Garcia’s life were her mother, the director of Hudson County Welfare, and her Italian grandmother, who first came to this country through Elis Island.

“[My grandmother] was the backbone of my family,” said Garcia. “My mother taught me humility, the importance of helping others, and professionalism.”

Garcia and her husband, former Union City Mayor Raul “Rudy” Garcia, have lived in Union City for the last 11 years while raising their young daughter.

“I am trying to set an example for my daughter,” said Garcia. “[To show her] that as a woman you can achieve anything you set forth to do.”

Despite recent troubles for Rudy Garcia with his alleged involvement in an international illegal gambling operation, Garcia does not believe it will affect her campaign.

“I am running as Nicole Garcia,” she said. “My name is on the ballot, not his.”

Garcia added, “I am sure that the people in the 33rd District have been through difficult situations in their families, but I believe in the judicial process and I do not abandon my own.”

Garcia discussed the recent loss of funding for some of the new school projects from the School Construction Corporation.

“Too much money has been spent on these sites [due to mismanagement],” said Garcia.

In addition, Garcia is concerned about changes occurring in Abbott school funding, which includes municipalities in the 33rd District, and the effect on programs from early childhood care services to remedial or gifted programs.

“We may fall short without our Abbott funding, and the local tax payer will bear the burden,” said Garcia.

Garcia wants to preserve the necessary funding for these types of programs to give children the quality education they deserve. She also plans to advocate in Trenton against gang violence, and preserve the recreational spaces in the urban districts.

“Right now I would like to see every child have the everlasting enjoyment and innocence of playing on a baseball field or performing in a play, and most of all fulfilling their dreams,” said Garcia.

Garcia said that students must be properly educated and recreational facilities must be safe havens. In addition, Garcia has become familiarized with the legislative process.

“I have sat in on committee hearings, watched the legislature in session and observed how a bill becomes a law,” said Garcia. “If elected as an assemblyperson, I will take the position very seriously, and represent all the constituents of the district.”

Garcia has worked as an insurance claims professional for the last 12 years with Harrison Limited.


A resident of Hudson County for over 40 years, Caridad Rodriguez currently serves as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the township of West New York, and is the first female commissioner in the town’s history.

Prior to that, Rodriguez already had 12 years experience working for the people of West New York and the 33rd district and served as the executive assistant to then Mayor and Assembly Speaker Albio Sires.

“I can say I was a public servant all my life,” said Rodriguez. “I want to expand the opportunities for the people of the 33rd District, and feel I have the experience [necessary].”

Born in Cuba, Rodriguez’s family came to the United States in 1962 and settled in Union City.

Rodriguez graduated from Union Hill High School. After a year in Louisiana in 1968, Rodriguez and her husband Joseph returned and settled in North Bergen and raised their three children. They eventually moved into West New York in 1999.

First serving as a legal secretary and paralegal, Rodriguez first entered constituent services 12 years ago when Sires first came into office.

“I was in charge of his constituent services,” said Rodriguez. “My main duty was listening to the people and attending to their needs. It also led me to deal with local, state, and federal offices on a daily basis [to resolve problems], which has given me great satisfaction.”

Last November, when Sires was elected to Congress, Rodriguez filled his vacancy on the board of commissioners.

“I loved the idea of serving the community as an elected official,” said Rodriguez. “I am very proud of it. It gave me more hands on experience.”

Now Rodriguez is attempting to take her public service to the next level as a legislator in the Assembly, and fighting for district issues such as affordable housing, education and health care.

“My passion is to serve people,” said Rodriguez. “I see the need for the expansion of the [Section 8] programs [affordable housing for low income residents]. I also want to see the property tax rebate expanded for renters and home owners.”

In education, Rodriguez hopes to continue addressing the overcrowding problem, especially at the elementary school level, as well as increased access to higher education.

She also hopes to work on legislation for health insurance funding for low income families and children. Working with Sires on the local and state level, Rodriguez is also familiar with the various programs and the process to acquire funding.

“I strongly believe we can expand these opportunities even more,” said Rodriguez. “My experience makes me confident that I will do a good job. I just want to give the community what I was given.”

Rodriguez also served as a member of the West New York Planning Board for six years and on the Board of Adjustment for three years, and continues to work with Sires managing the congressional office in West New York, and serving as his scheduler. Jessica Rosero can be reached at


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