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HDA Class of 1999

Robert Menendez

First Latino U.S. Congressman from New Jersey

School of Law–Newark 1979


As a member of Congress, Robert Menendez helped to create jobs and boost economic growth in New Jersey while working nationally and internationally to protect human rights. As chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security, he introduced the Bioterrorism Protection Act. Menendez began his career in politics in 1974, while an undergraduate at St. Peter's College, when he was the youngest and first Latino elected to the Union City Board of Education. He later became the first Latino mayor of Union City, serving from 198692. In 1987, he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, serving until 1991 when he became the first Latino elected to the state Senate. While a state senator, he sponsored the landmark Bias Crimes Law. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, as the first Latino from New Jersey, in 1992. In January 2006, Governor Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to complete his term in the U.S. Senate; in November 2006, New Jerseyans elected Menendez to serve a full six-year term senator.


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