TRENTON, NJ—(SBN)—New Jersey Future has named James J. Florio, the 49th governor of New Jersey, to receive the organization’s Cary Edwards Leadership Award as part of its Smart Growth Awards celebration. Florio was in the SBN studios last month to tape a TV interview with news director Steve Lubetkin.
“It’s difficult to count all the ways Jim Florio’s efforts have made New Jersey a better place,” said New Jersey Future Chairman Peter Reinhart. “During his time in Congress and as governor, Jim Florio was a visionary in seeing the future needs of New Jersey. In the many years following public office, he has continued to be a major voice and leading policy advocate for a better future for the people of New Jersey. Every day, we breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water, can redevelop on cleaner land, and have a robust regional and national passenger and freight rail network, in no small part because of Jim Florio. This honor is so well-deserved.”
Governor Florio first sought elective office in 1969, winning a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly. In 1974 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District, where he served until 1990. During his tenure in Congress he authored the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, known as the Superfund law, the nation’s primary program for cleaning up hazardous waste sites; played a key role in the drafting or passage of virtually every major piece of federal environmental legislation; and played a key role in every piece of railroad legislation passed during his tenure.
During his tenure as governor of New Jersey he signed into law the Clean Water Enforcement Act, one of the strongest environmental laws of its type in the United States. He was responsible for shepherding the original agreement to study the idea of constructing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, an initiative that came to be known as Access to the Region’s Core. And he expanded the scope of activity for NJ Transit, enhancing its distinction as the only statewide commuter transit network in the country.
A hallmark of Gov. Florio’s public-service career has been to emphasize the importance of, and to advocate for, coordinated planning at the state level. He believes that public investments in infrastructure should guide private development, not the other way around. It was during his tenure as governor that the first State Development and Redevelopment Plan was adopted — committing to paper for the first time the policy that state investments in transportation, housing and water and sewer services should be made first in already-built areas, rather than in the new, lower-density suburbs and exurbs that had been growing during the mid-1980s.
Since his return to the private sector, Gov. Florio has continued to use his voice to elevate conversations on the big issues that will affect New Jersey’s future, including the importance of coordinated planning and the need for investment in upgrading infrastructure in our older communities in order to support growth.
“There are few people who inhabit the idea of ‘public servant’ more fully than Jim Florio,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “He cares deeply about New Jersey, and his efforts both in office and since have been with the singular goal of ensuring that our children and grandchildren will have a great state in which to live, work and play. All of us at New Jersey Future join in celebrating the governor’s dedication to New Jersey’s future.”
The award will be presented at New Jersey Future’s Smart Growth Awards Celebration June 6