Zina Spezakis, a clean technology investor and environmental activist, today opened her campaign to oust Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) in the Democratic primary.
“I never thought about running for anything before. I was always going to solve things as a businesswoman or an activist. But, when I read that we have 12 years to save the planet, I knew I needed to do more,” Spezakis said.
The daughter of Greek immigrants who ran a deli across the street from the New York Times, Spezakis grew up in Englewood Cliffs and worked for several financial services and investment strategies firms.
She expects to self-fund a portion of her campaign and has already loaned it $35,000, according to her last report filed with the Federal Election Commission. Spezakis told the New Jersey Globe that she will not accept corporate PAC money or contributions from the fossil fuel industry.
She also launched her new campaign website, zinaforcongress.com and a 60-second campaign video.
Spezakis, a 48-year-old single mother, says that climate change is the biggest challenge in human history.
“If we do not stop using and burning fossil fuels, our very survival is threatened. Many want to ignore the increasing climate threats and continue with business as usual,” Spezakis said. “This mindset comes at an untenable cost: the destruction of our environment, our economy, and our way of life as we know it. Is this what we want to leave for future generations?”
She challenged Pascrell’s “inaction on the climate crisis.”
“He’s voted for green policies, but you need urgency,” Spezakis said. “A climate delayer is worse than a climate denier.”
Spezakis also says that she supports medicare for all and says she feels uncomfortable with Pascrell’s acceptance of campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
Pascrell won his first congressional election in 1996 after serving in the State Assembly and as mayor of Paterson. He raised $238,207 during the first three months of 2019 and has a warchest of $1,724,804.
He faced eight-term Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Englewood) in the 2012 primary after redistricting eliminated one of New Jersey’s House seats and won 61% of the vote.
Pascrell defeated 2018 primary opponent William O. Henry with 86% of the vote.