Monday, April 11, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    
APRIL 11, 2011    
CONTACT: Michael Muller                                                                                     
(609) 392-3367, Ext. 28

Nine-Time Gold Medalist Calls for an End to Culture of Mediocrity in New Jersey
Schools; Spending and Tax Reforms to Make State More Affordable; and a
Commitment to Excellence in Government, Education and Business

(MOUNT HOLLY, NJ) – Carl Lewis, the legendary Olympian who took his first steps toward worldwide acclaim on the track at Willingboro High School, is now running to challenge the status quo in Trenton and make government a positive force for the people of New Jersey. The nine-time Olympic Gold Medalist, who was named “Olympian of the (20th) Century,” declared his candidacy today for the Democratic State Senate nomination in the Eighth District. Lewis advanced a broad agenda for reform, including an end to “a culture of mediocrity” in the state’s educational system. He also said he was determined to promote a new environment of civility and bi-partisanship in New Jersey politics.

“South Jersey is where I grew up and learned what matters - that hard work, family values and commitment to others can make a difference,” said Lewis, whose family moved to Willingboro when he was two years old. Lewis, a volunteer track coach at his high school, added, “I’m proud of where I came from, proud to be back, and ready to step up to serve the taxpayers of this great state that afforded me so many wonderful opportunities. This is my chance to give back to my community, the South Jersey region and the entire state that has meant so much to me.”

Lewis said he is running because of a passion to improve the quality of life for New Jersey’s families. He said he will champion reforms that make the state a more affordable place to live and work, while raising the standards of New Jersey’s schools, infrastructure and other public services.

“We cannot rest until we make sure that our families can afford to live and raise their kids here, that our seniors can remain in their homes and afford their health and pharmaceutical costs, and that our children receive the first-class education they need to be competitive in a global economy,” Lewis said. “To accomplish that, we must make commonsense reductions in the cost of government without lowering our standards or creating even more hardships for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Lewis said he was seeking public office in part because of the increasingly acrimonious nature of politics in Washington, Trenton and governments across the nation. Long-accepted partisanship, he said, has turned personal and bitter, making compromise and meaningful solutions to difficult problems harder than ever to achieve.

“It’s time to change the political discourse in New Jersey and around the country,” Lewis said. “The people are fed up with their elected officials playing the blame game and treating their political counterparts as enemies. Our responsibility is to do what’s necessary to get the job done, to work together for the sake of our future and our childrens’ future. I will work across partisan lines to do that.”

Lewis’ storied career as a track-and-field star spanned from 1979 through 1996. In addition to winning nine Gold Medals of an overall 10 Olympic medals, he won another 10 World Championship medals, nine of which were Gold. He was named Olympian of the Century by Sports Illustrated, and Sportsman of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.

A firm believer that sports should be used as a platform for good works, Lewis has utilized his athletic status to support worthy causes and directly serve the needs of others. Since his retirement from active competition in 1997, he has been involved with hundreds of charitable events and causes. He created the Carl Lewis Foundation, a charitable endeavor with a special focus on three particular organizations: Best Buddies, which provides social and job opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; The United Negro College Fund, underscoring his commitment to educational initiatives; and the Wendy Marx Foundation for Organ Donor Awareness, which he co-founded after a friend underwent a life-saving liver transplant. He was named Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2009, in recognition of his commitment to the underprivileged and efforts on behalf of disadvantaged, hungry and suffering people throughout the world.

Lewis launched a website; Fit Forever, dedicated to empowering youth and adults, and to improving their lives through physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. He also runs the Carl Lewis Entertainment Corp.

Lewis said his passion for public service came from his father, who, he said, “instilled in me the values that I will bring to Trenton – unquestioned integrity, a can-do spirit, caring for one’s neighbors, and the ability to work with others despite differences of opinion. While he isn’t here to see me take this great step, my father’s life of hard work and commitment to family and the community is an enduring source of inspiration to me”

Lewis said he feels uniquely qualified to serve in the State Legislature because of his life experiences and his vision for the future. “I believe I can really make a difference because of what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and the people I have met all over the world. I have seen excellence in education, in athletics, and in business, both here in the United States and in other countries. I know that if we all work hard enough, we can achieve a newfound excellence here in New Jersey.”

Lewis said he intended to run “a peoples’ campaign” because “this race is about more than just me. It’s about all the people of this district and our state. We all want change, and we all want solutions to our most pressing problems. In this campaign, I will visit every town in the district. I will knock on your door and listen to your concerns and hopes for the future. I want you to run with me so we can win this race together.”

Once elected, Lewis said, “my door will be open to everyone. Every citizen will have a seat at the table.” He said there is a better chance of bringing about change and making New Jersey a better place for everyone if elected officials and ordinary citizens work together toward a common goal.

“With commitment, hard work and vision, we can make our state a model for the rest of the nation,” Lewis said.


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