This potentially pits him against a former powerful ally in Hoboken.
Councilman-At-Large Ruben Ramos Jr., 33, a teacher in Paterson, accepted an offer earlier in the week from Union City Mayor Brian Stack to join his ticket and run for New Jersey's 33rd District seat in the state Assembly. Stack, in addition to being Mayor of Union City is also an Assemblyman for the district, but wants to become the district's next state Senator, replacing Bernard Kenny Jr. of Hoboken.
The Stack-Kenny rivalry has started an internal war in the Hudson County Democratic party.
Kenny, who is respected in Trenton and is the current Senate Majority Leader, has not officially announced whether he will run for re-election this November.
Stack, who is popular in his town of Union City, is also a relatively young mayor on the rise. According to Ramos, Kenny's not having announced his intention as of yet to run played a large role in his decision to campaign for his own seat.
"The biggest fear I had was that the way things were shaking up, Hoboken would be left without any representation on the state level, and that was too big of a risk for Hoboken to take," said Ramos last week. "I'm excited, I'm nervous, and I'm honored. I'm looking forward to the challenge and opportunity and will do the best I can for my district."
Ramos' acknowledged the difficulty in deciding to run on a ticket that will potentially force him to campaign against Kenny, who in the past has supported and assisted him in his campaigns in Hoboken.
"I have a lot of respect and admiration for Senator Kenny," Ramos said. "If I would have held back, it would have been because of that. It was my greatest apprehension, but I made a commitment and I'm going to stick to it."
In response to Ramos' announcement, Kenny issued a statement on Thursday, saying, "I will not share my private thoughts about personal matters as they are immaterial to the political process. As for the public matters, time will tell."
Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, a long-time ally for both Kenny and Ramos, who described Kenny as a friend and mentor, said on Friday, "I have been a friend of Bernard Kenny for over 20 years and have been a very close ally of Ruben's since 1999. I have always been a supporter and advocate for Ruben and I support him now. However, it was my hope that he would have allowed Senator Kenny the time to make the decision, giving him the respect and recognition he deserves before Ruben went ahead with any decision of his own."
Stack could not be reached for comment before press time.
The man and his goals
Ramos was elected to the 4th Ward Council seat in 1999 at the age of 25, becoming councilman-at-large in 2001 and serving as council president in 2002. Ramos is also a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in 1999. He was able to overcome the illness by receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatment at Sloan Kettering Hospital. In 2000 he was cancer-free.
The former St. Ann's altar boy graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1995 with a degree in political science. Currently Ramos is a sixth, seventh and eighth grade Social Studies teacher at P.S. 15 in Paterson.
Having been a teacher for 10 years, one of Ramos' priorities if elected will be to increase spending on public education with a focus on making colleges more affordable for students in the state.
Three other areas which Ramos wants to focus on are: making healthcare affordable on a state level, property-tax reform to give New Jersey residents relief, and acquiring additional homeland security funding to protect residents in an area of New Jersey that is laced with mass transportation.
The State Assembly and the election process
The New Jersey General Assembly, which is the "lower house" of the state Legislature, is comprised of 80 members. Each of the state's 40 legislative districts has two assemblymen and one state senator.
Each Assemblyman serves a two-year term. They often hold another job at the same time.
The 33rd District, which Ramos hopes to represent, consists of Hoboken, Union City, West New York, Weehawken, Guttenberg and parts of Jersey City. Besides Stack, the other current assemblyman for the 33rd District is Silverio "Sal" Vega, who is also Mayor of West New York.
This year's election is scheduled for the beginning of November, and the Democratic primary will be held in June.
In the November election, the two candidates with the highest amount of votes, no matter what ticket they run on, will be elected to Assembly seats. Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com.