BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
PLEASANTVILLE — The loud chants of “Irvin! Irvin! Irvin!” could probably be heard throughout Pleasantville from Fiesta Oaxaquena on North Main Street on Sunday as young community activist Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez officially announced his candidacy for the Pleasantville city council.
Moreno-Rodriguez, is the assistant director of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton, and has long been active in the community along with his brother Cristian Moreno-Rodriguez, where they worked together at the community nonprofit El Pueblo Unido.
“How can you not get emotional after introductions like that,” Moreno-Rodriguez said after being lauded by Bert Lopez, longtime president of the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County, and Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina, statewide Hispanic advocate and president of the nonprofit Latina Civic.
“It’s no surprise that you are here with me in one of the most important days of my life. Together we have fought the good fight. Each person in this room has gone above and beyond in our collective effort to make Pleasantville, Atlantic County, South Jersey a better place for all. It’s time once again to fight the good fight.”
Moreno-Rodriguez, a Class of 2022 member of the FRNJ 30 Under 35 Top Young Latino Leaders of SJ, said as the son of immigrants, he grew up seeing the needs of the community.
“I felt it. My brothers and I didn’t have much growing up,” he said. “But my parents stood by my side. They worked hard to put food on our table and my family persevered. My family taught me no matter how much is in your wallet, give back. Help someone and keep fighting.”
“You keep fighting for those who have lost their voice and you keep fighting for those who have lost hope.”
Moreno-Rodriguez added that the “the needs of our community have not been met. Fight after fight with the Pleasantville city council has left us with no other option but to vote for people who represent us. It is time for our community to be heard. Our voices have been ignored and our people marginalized. Our children left behind because of the decision career politicians have been making for years in Pleasantville. It’s time to fight four our seat at the table.”
Himself a longtime local Latino leader, Lopez said he has been impressed with the work of the Moreno brothers and know Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez will make a positive difference for everyone in the community.
“I’m here because it’s personal to me,” Lopez said. “Irvin and his family are very personal to me. They are in our community. They are not sitting back. They are making a difference every day in our community. I really admire that.”
Lopez talked about serving on the school board for five years and knows the struggles ahead. He said Moreno-Rodriguez has the love of the community at heart to make a difference.
“Running for office is not as glorious as what many people think,” Lopez said. “It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of endurance and you have to put up with a lot. I know Irvin is up to that challenge. He’s running because he sees a need. He sees the need in our community.”
Cristian Moreno-Rodriguez, who often prefers to work behind the scenes at many events, said he could not be prouder of his brother for throwing his hat in the ring to run for Pleasantville City Council.
“I can’t express with words how I feel,” he said. “We came here with nothing. Came from a small village in Mexico. We were born and raise by our community and now it’s time to give back by fighting for them the best way we know how.”
Cristian Moreno-Rodriguez said this effort goes beyond Pleasantville city council but the struggles Latinos have had throughout the state making their voices heard and getting their needs met.
“Time and time again, we’re tired of begging politicians to do the right thing,” Cristian Moreno-Rodriguez said. “We want to put someone in office who knows what to do. I just want to let everyone know we’re coming. The Latino revolution is coming. We’re not going to stop until everyone is educated and ready to mobilize.”
Campos-Medina, who has been organizing Latinas to run for office at the state level through Latina Civic said conversations are happening across New Jersey about Hispanic involvement and making their voices heard. She said they will not wait for those in power to give their approval.
“We no longer feel we need the approval of somebody else to run,” she said. “You just need to run and bring the community to support you. We don’t need to ask for permission or approval from the powers that be. Those are the conversations we’re having with young Latinas and young Latinos and with the next generation. It’s generating excitement.”
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