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Sen. Lautenberg Remembered for Commitment, Leadership

Members of Congress, community leaders and local politicians spoke about Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday morning.

Following the death of longtime  legislators and community leaders from around the state praised Lautenberg for his landmark legislation and his continuous work representing the state’s best interests.

Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), Democratic candidate for Governor, said Lautenberg fought for what he believed in and called the senator an "American hero." She offered her thoughts and prayers for his family.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Lautenberg. Senator Lautenberg exemplified the American spirit and his commitment and devotion to the country he loved was unmatched. He always answered the call to serve—first as a soldier in the United States Army during World War II and later as Senator in the United States Senate representing the people of New Jersey," she said. "Senator Lautenberg always stood up for the principles he believed in and fought everyday to improve the lives of everyday New Jerseyans. Frank Lautenberg was an American hero and an icon in New Jersey, and he will be sorely missed."

Newark Mayor Cory Booker also praised Lautenberg for working to enhance the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.

"Senator Lautenberg was a model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. He was a passionate advocate for New Jersey and a crucial and tireless partner who always delivered for the people of Newark. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lautenberg family," Booker said.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Township) called Lautenberg's death a "personal loss as well as a loss for New Jersey and the country.

"I don't think there will ever again be anybody quite like Frank Lautenberg," he said.

Holt said Lautenberg's humble beginnings helped shape him as a person and he was inspired to pay back his country partially by the GI Bill that sent him to Columbia University. He also named a few of his legislative accomplishments and their impact.

“Much will be said about his accomplishments: keeping trains and buses safe, promoting public health, safeguarding chemical plants, keeping cigarettes out of planes, and more. But what stands out in my mind is what Frank did to prevent drunk driving. As part of his transportation work, he established limits on blood alcohol levels. Today you could fill several football stadiums with people who are alive only because of Frank Lautenberg—and not one of them knows who they are," Holt said.

Holt also described Lautenberg's character, calling him "dogged" and said he was well-liked by Senate members. He was respected for fighting what he believed in and doing his "homework" regarding legislation.

“Frank and I worked together on a number of things, so I feel this loss very personally. Frank, we miss you, but your ideas and your legacy live on,” he said.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Middlesex) was saddened by the news of Lautenberg's death, having known him for decades as both a colleague and friend. He offered condolences to Bonnie Lautenberg and the senator's children and grandchildren.

“Frank Lautenberg was a moral guidepost on so many critical issues.  As a leader in the U.S. Senate, his impact was felt on some of the most important issues facing New Jersey and our nation.  His work on issues like gun violence prevention, improving our nation’s transit systems and transportation infrastructure, making Americans healthier through anti-smoking initiatives, and rebuilding our state after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy will be recognized for generations. Senator Lautenberg’s dedication to public service was evident in everything he did from his military service, to his philanthropic work, to his time in the U.S. Senate.  Frank Lautenberg’s life defined public service and what it means to live the American dream," Pallone said.

“Senator Lautenberg has been at the forefront of some of the most important movements to protect our environment, an issue critical to New Jersey and the nation. I witnessed his commitment to environmental stewardship firsthand when we worked together on legislation to address inequities in the Superfund system so we can better clean up toxic sites throughout the state. Senator Lautenberg and I also worked together to champion the issue of keeping our waterways clean and safe when we introduced the BEACH Act.”

Sen. Thomas Kean Jr.(R-Essex-Morris-Somerset-Union) said that "America has lost a true New Jerseyan who dedicated his life to public service." Kean noted Lautenberg's work in fighting for funding for Superstorm Sandy victims.

“Until his last days, the resolute Senator served New Jersey honorably, fighting to bring home Superstorm Sandy recovery funding for families and small business owners. Senator Lautenberg was a consistent leader and a man of his convictions. May Frank Lautenberg rest in peace, and let his family know we are praying for them," he said.

Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-Monmouth-Ocean) also expressed gratitude for Lautenberg's work for Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.

“Sen. Lautenberg was an accomplished public servant who served the residents of New Jersey well during his 30-year tenure. More recently, Jersey Shore residents will remember him for his tireless efforts in obtaining crucial federal funding for recovery efforts following the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy," he said. "I extend my deepest condolences to his wife and family."

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Essex-Morris-Somerset-Union) expressed regret for Lautenberg's family.

“Our state has lost a dedicated servant who served in Congress for almost 30 years. We appreciate his service to New Jersey and the United States. On behalf of Assembly Republican caucus, I wish to offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Bonnie, their children and grandchildren.”

East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl, a Republican who is running on Tuesday in the 18th District Primary as the Republican nominee for Senate with the hope of replacing Buono, offered condolences.

"Senator Lautenberg served honorably, fighting hard for his convictions. He will be missed and I extend my condolences to his family and friends," he said.

Rutgers University issued a statement referencing Lautenberg's dedication to education.

"Senator Lautenberg was tireless in his commitment to higher education.  His support of federal programs to provide financial assistance to students was exemplary," the school said in the statement. "Senator Lautenberg, who was proud to say that he attended college on the GI Bill, knew firsthand the value of higher education and how, with the right programs in place, there is no limit to what a young person can accomplish."

"Senator Lautenberg will be deeply missed by the Rutgers community."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) New Jersey also chimed in with praise of the senator's work for civil liberties throughout four decades in Congress, calling him a "relentless champion."

"New Jersey has lost a leader defined by his compassion, integrity and concern for society’s most vulnerable," the ACLU said in a statement.

“Sen. Lautenberg constantly made New Jersey proud, not only for standing up for the rights of Americans, but often for leading the charge to preserve those rights,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer. “He led with a personal imperative to serve the people who elected him, and his tenacity in doing the right thing on their behalf only sharpened over the years. He never lost sight of where he came from, and he never lost his fire for righting an injustice. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s tireless fight to strengthen our freedoms has made our country, and New Jersey, a better place for all who live here."

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin also commended Lautenberg for fighting for justice and equality.

“Senator Lautenberg was a beacon for equality in Congress. He fought for justice with more than simply his vote. He knew bullying in our schools is a scourge, and he stood up to end it. He knew that workplace discrimination and hate crimes erode the freedom of all Americans, so he worked to stop them, session after session," Griffin said. “Nothing better sums up his undying legacy than his 2004 floor speech opposing a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. ‘When we see things that are shameful we should not be too spineless to respond. Senator Lautenberg had spine, and he will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends, family, colleagues and the many across New Jersey and across this country who knew and loved him."

Salaam Ismial, director of the National United Youth Council described Lautenberg as much more than a politician and offered prayers to him and his family.

"He was more than just a liberal politician. He was a humanitarian and a friend to the downtrodden members of our society. We asked him to come to a dilapidated housing complex in Newark many years ago where a young person was killed because of a broken elevator. Surprisingly, he came (with) a press corps and raised hell about the conditions and demanded HUD do something about it, and they did. He took a stand on gun violence and we appreciate that. He will be missed,” he said.

GAzer June 05, 2013 at 05:01 PM
What class is there in pretending to honor the legacy of a traitor to the constitution? Call a spade a spade - the man was a fiend in death and in life.
John Kerwin June 05, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Hey Alex we now have a "volunteer" army. That excuse about fighting war and drinking was back in the 60's when there was a draft. Get to the present. Of all 18-20 year olds how many are serving in the military? Even with these laws read the newspapers and see how many 18-20 year olds still die in automobile accidents and take innocent lives because they are drunk. I want these young people to live and become productive, law abiding citizens.
marylou June 05, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Gerry,I think you need to read my comment again.My brothers-in-law were in the military during war time,but like the late Senator,were never in combat.You either lack reading comprehension or need glasses.
Alex C June 05, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Ok John, then why at 18 was I REQUIRED to register for the Selective Service? It's not just the military thing though. It is the enter concept of society legally considering someone an adult, and requiring all the responsibilities of adulthood, but not affording all of the rights and priviledges. Most adults I know drink and drive every now and then. I do not. It's not worth it. But I can't even count how many of my own friends in their late 20's or middle aged friends of my parents that I've seen get into a car after drinking too much. Most 18-20 year olds spend 9 months a year on a college campus and don't even have a car. It's a B.S. law, and the U.S. still has a B.S. uptight attitude towards alcohol, even so many years after prohibition has ended. You want to curb binge drinking among young people? Let them learn to drink during that last year of high school when they are monitored by their parents more closely. But back to the military argument. Do you honestly believe that a 18 year old young man or woman is mature enough to decide to go off to Afghanistan, but when he/she comes back missing two legs, he's not then mature enough to celebrate not just being outright killed with his parents over a beer and a cigar? Do you honestly believe that? I get that we have a volunteer army (for now), but it's just hypocritical to define maturity in a way that is convenient for the government. You want to raise the military age to 21, fine, but let's have consistency.
Coloniamick June 05, 2013 at 09:27 PM
I met him twice personally: at a friends business up in North Jersey and at the original ADP HQ off of Route 3...he was all business. I also was on two flights on the old shuttle from DC to Newark and saw him berate several flight attendants. He may have gotten some things passed that were worthwhile, but he also pissed away a lot of taxpayer money on worthless transportation projects. He was not personally likeable from what I saw.

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