Photos by Oscar Alberto Quintana
A sold out event gathered political dignitaries and excited Dover Democrats at the The Corner Bistro in Randolph, NJ. for the 2019 Spring Reception and 2nd Annual Dover First Awards honoring Puerto Rican icon, Francisco De Jesus, for his six decades of advocacy for the people of Dover, and Civil Rights attorney Scott Salmon for his efforts to litigate (Correa V. Rossi) bilingual ballots for Dover, New Jersey. This landmark ruling is now the law of the land in New Jersey in favor of Hispanics in all districts where there is 10% or more registered Spanish speaking voters. After dinner, there were words of wisdom peppered with a couple of jokes cracked by the 53rd NJ Governor, and NJ State District 27 Senator Richard J. Codey and Parsippany Mayor, Michael Soriano. And we must thank the great food and service at The Corner Bistro – a business owned by residents of Dover.The purpose of the gathering was to raise funds for the Team for Dover primary and general election efforts.
Present at this political event were: Edward Correa, Dover Democratic Committee Chair, who served as master of ceremonies. After the Pledge of Alliance there were remarks by Chip Robinson, Morris County Democratic Committee Chair, and the Team for Dover slate of candidates: Jessica Cruz, 1st Ward Alderwoman; Adrian Ballesteros, 3rd Ward Alderman; Judith Rugg, 2nd Ward Alderwoman and present in his absence, Marcos Tapia, 4th Alderman. And last but not least, the future Mayor of Dover, Carolyn Blackman, a sharecropper’s daughter from Augusta, Georgia.
Finally, there was a historical presentation from Francisco de Jesús and a political harangue by Parsippany Mayor, Michael Soriano.Don Francisco De Jesus surmised the day back in time to 1961 when he traveled 37 hours from his beloved island of Puerto Rico to Dover, New Jersey when his hair was all black and his head all full of dreams. He now dons an all white grandfatherly hairdo. And that is what Doverians call him “El Abuelo de Dover.” Anyway, De Jesus recalled in his presentation that one day he wanted to go see a Bugs Bunny movie and the ticket clerk summoned the police for there was “a Puerto Rican wanting to go into the movie theater and I am afraid he’s got a knife.” The police arrived and frisked a young Francisco De Jesus and having found no knife, there and then he was allowed into the movie theater to see Bugs Bunny.
Another scene he remembers was the day he walked into Dover City hall to help a neighbor only to be arrested. Back then he was told “City hall is for whites only.” Another scenario he brought to light was the day in 2008 when present day Dover Mayor James P. Dodd forbade the use of Spanish in City hall. And Francisco points out dirty politics when he says “now Mayor Dodd drinks agua panela and eats bandeja colombiana on Blackwell street.”
The coming primary and general election will bring Dover and Morris county a new beginning. Hispanics will realize their political power is a paper tiger no more. In Dover, Hispanics have been able to come together and defeat a Dover political machine that years ago denied them their right to just enter City Hall. Just ask “Abuelito” Francisco De Jesus, a self proclaimed Republican Conservative from Aguada in the island of Puerto Rico.