NEW YORK — New Jersey remembers its first Italian-American governor, Jim Florio, who died on Sunday at the age of 85.
In a tweet, Governor Phil Murphy said Florio cares more about New Jersey’s future than about his own political fortunes, and as reported by CBS2’s Tony Aiello, even rivals held Florio in high regard.
The third time was the charm of Florio, elected governor in 1989, but his four-year leadership in New Jersey proved difficult.
Determined to help large cities with budget deficits, he raised taxes and cut aid to suburban schools, which cost him support.
“He was someone who was passionate about his principles and what he cared about. He stuck to them at all costs, ”said former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Whitman made history by defeating Florio when he ran for re-election in 1993.
James Joseph Florio was born in Brooklyn in 1937. He dropped out of high school to join the Navy, eventually attending law school and winning the State Assembly elections.
Florio spent 15 years in Congress creating the groundbreaking Superfund program signed by President Jimmy Carter to clean up toxic waste landfills.
“I have great respect for what he managed to go through in Congress on the Superfund site and all the work he did to help clean up the atmosphere,” Whitman said.
The New York Times called Florio a “restless loner”, serious and private.
His second wife, Lucinda, was by his side when he joked with CBS2 about his image in 1989.
“I thought I was always gentle, warm and loving,” Florio said then.
The race in 1993 was anything but gentle. People nervous about the tax increases put stickers on the bumpers with the words “Dump Florio”.
“The governor joked that people outside the area thought his name was” Dump “because all those bumper stickers had” Throw Florio “, Andre DiMino told the Italian-US One Voice Coalition.
DiMino says Florio was a source of pride for local Italian Americans.
“There are so many Italian Americans in New Jersey, and his being first governor was truly a story,” he said.
Florio titled his biography “Standing on Principle.” He will be remembered for doing exactly that.
Murphy has ordered all US and New Jersey flags to display half of their staff on government buildings and facilities for two weeks, beginning Tuesday morning, in memory of Florio.
The governor made the following statement:
“Governor Florio’s legacy of service will be defined by his dedication to improving New Jersey’s lives and defending what’s right. Governor Florio first ran for public office in 1969 and continued a long career in the public service, devoting his life to representing the New Jerseyans as assembly member, US Congressman, and Governor. It was a great privilege to know Governor Florio, and I have always appreciated his advice and advice. Our hearts are both heavy and grateful as we remember his illustrious career and his lasting impact on the state of New Jersey. ”
The former governor left behind his wife Lucinda and three children from his first marriage.
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