First elected via a special election on November 8, 2011, besting over a dozen other candidates, Rolando Lavarro was sworn in on November 21, 2011, to become the first Filipino and Asian American in Jersey City’s Municipal Council.
Rolando was re-elected to a full term as Councilman-At-Large in 2013, becoming Council President on July 1, 2013 – the first Asian American to hold the position. He was reappointed as Council President by his Council colleagues in 2015 and 2018. Council President Lavarro is a “home grown” product of Jersey City. He is the son of Filipino immigrants who came to the United States in the late 1960s. He went to school at St. Paul’s Greenville and St. Peter’s Prep, earning a Bachelor’s degree from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business.
Prior to serving on the City Council, Rolando served as the Director of Grants and Sponsored Programs at New Jersey City University, where he secured millions in grants for the University during his tenure. He was the Director of Constituent Services for Assemblyman (now State Senator) Robert Gordon in New Jersey’s 38th Legislative District and was a Council Aide in Jersey City. He was also the coordinator of a SAMHSA Drug Free Community Support Grant establishing a coalition in Jersey City for the prevention of drug use among youth. For a decade, he worked with World Education Services, helping immigrants and foreign students transition to the United States.
Council President Lavarro has an unparalleled legislative record that demonstrates his commitment to Jersey City’s working families. Councilman Lavarro co-sponsored Jersey City’s living wage ordinance with then Councilman (now Mayor) Steven Fulop, which boosted the minimum pay for low-wage workers in city-owned and some city–leased buildings and in certain developments. The Council President is a vocal proponent of the Fight For 15 campaign to boost minimum wage in New Jersey. He sponsored legislation establishing and expanding earned sick days, which provides paid sick time for most people working in Jersey City. The Council President also enacted wage theft protection, protecting workers of Jersey City businesses against unscrupulous employees.
Additionally, the Council President’s accomplishments include legislation enabling farmers markets, banning smoking in City parks, and establishing the first Immigrant Affairs Commission in the state of New Jersey.
Lavarro is currently the Chair of the Jersey City Municipal Alliance to Combat Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. He also serves as a member of the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation Board of Trustees.
Council President Lavarro’s priorities include diversity in police and fire hiring, job creation, affordable housing, protecting immigrant communities, safeguarding healthcare, and fighting for working families.
Rolando Lavarro remains a resident of Greenville-West Side with his wife, Veronica, and daughter, Gabriela.