Frank Lautenberg, a long time US Senator, who grew up in Paterson, returned to his hometown to announce that he will not seek re-election in 2014. This is not the first time Mr Lautenberg announced retirement; in 2000, he did just that, but few years later he was pulled back into politics; this time may be different because he is considerably older, and he says he wishes to spend more time with his children and grandchildren who are dispersed around the United States.
During his ceremonial retirement announcement, Mr Lautenberg shared a story about his father, who died at the age of 43 due to poor working conditions, he said: “My father died from [ poor working conditions in silk mills]“. And then he mentioned his uncle who also worked at the mills and died at a young age, 52; then he mentioned, joking, an uncle who lived down the street, worked at a tavern, and lived to 101.
Mr Lautenberg did much for New Jersey and for the country: he wrote the law that bars smokers from puffing in planes; he worked tirelessly to ensure New Jersey had the proper transits to prosper, so much so that few years ago he secured 3 billion dollars in grants for a rail tunnel under the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey, which was scrapped by Governor Chris Christie; and for his home town, working with Congressman Bill Pascrell he secured National Park status for the Great Falls.
Not forgetting his Paterson roots he said, “They can take the kid out of Paterson, but they can’t take Paterson out of the kid”. Mr Lautenberg grew up in a poor Jewish family; he said during his speech, his parents did not have much to bequeath to him, but they did have values.
He said in the two years he has left in office he will spend them working towards: passing gun control laws that ban the purchase of high-capacity magazines; modernizing the nation’s infrastructure; and fighting for the country’s poor and middle class families.
At one point in his speech he said, “I have an inherent love for Paterson.”