3/31/22, 10:14 AM New Assemblyman is a survivor | The Progress News | newjerseyhills.com
EDITOR’S PICK FEATURED TOP STORY
New Assemblyman is a survivor
By ANTHONY GABBIANELLI
Mar 31, 2022
TRENTON – Christian Barranco faced hardships, including unemployment, on his way to a seat
in the state Assembly.
After ousting longtime Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce in the Republican primary last June,
the first-time candidate was elected to represent the 26th Legislative District, along with
running mate Jay Webber, on Nov. 2.
The district includes Fairfield, North Caldwell, Verona and West Caldwell in Essex County;
Butler, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, Parsippany and Rockaway
Township in Morris County; and West Milford in Passaic County.
Barranco was born in 1969 and is a first-generation American. His father was born in Cuba; he
fled that country in 1961, settling in the Washington Heights section of New York City.
His mother immigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, about the same time, when that country
was going through economic hardships. She lived in Passaic County.
Barranco grew up in an apartment in Paterson before his family moved to Wayne when he was
“It’s a typical American city,” he said about growing up in Paterson. “Very transitory. A lot of
immigrants, a lot of people of different races and colors and creeds I was raised with. There’s
not one race, color or creed that I don’t have a friend in.”
He studied engineering in college but did not finish his degree. He became a mechanical
designer, which at the time was not the best job to have.
“Manufacturing and design work, really that sort of work has died in New Jersey,” he said.
“Toward the end of my 20s, I started to find that it was hard to secure sort of gainful
employment in that world. In 2002, when I turned 32, I decided to join the electrical union,
Barranco has been an electrician since then, working in Pompton Lakes as a journeyman and
wireman for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He also worked as a
project manager with McPhee Electric and currently with Beach Electric Co.
He and his wife, Pauline, own Flowers Right Now, a florist company the couple started in 2011.
During the credit crunch in 2009, Barranco lost his job and was unemployed for 13 months.
“There was a lot of despair in the house, a lot of tough times for me and my wife and my
family,” he said. “It was a time there where we were broke. I promised myself that I would never
again sit back and take the government that I was given.
“I went about finding out what it takes to get into government with the parties. I never really
understood representative government. I learned what I could from school, but I didn’t learn it
in my household. So I went about teaching myself what that path looked and then I took the
He served on the Pompton Lakes Borough Council in 2017. After he moved to Jefferson in 2019,
he decided to run for the Assembly.
He became a candidate in the 2021 GOP primary with incumbents who joined the Assembly in
2012, when her husband, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, died.
“People are still shocked, but I worked hard,” Barranco said, referring to the primary results. “I
worked very hard and I spoke to a lot of people. So that’s why I’m here.”
He credits his ability to speak directly with the voters for his unexpected victory over DeCroce.
Next year, because of redistricting, Barranco will be running in District 25, which will include
Jefferson along with towns with large Hispanic populations, such as Dover, Morristown and
“I’m bilingual, so I’m really looking forward to getting into those communities and just letting
them know that they have a person that understands their plight in the Assembly,” he said.
Webber said he knew how important it was to have a man like Barranco on the ballot with him.
“He was a great partner and running mate,” he said. “He brought a new perspective to the
district. This is a union electrician, he’s the only Hispanic Republican in the Assembly and was
able to connect with Republican voters in our district in a unique way that obviously was
persuasive. He brought a lot to the ticket.”
Barranco’s background as a first-generation American with an Hispanic heritage led to his
election last year, Webber said. His ability to connect with those in situations similar to
Barranco’s early life also strengthened his appeal to voters, he added.
During the campaign, Barranco focused on three key issues that resonated with many
supporters. The biggest issue was how to make New Jersey affordable to the middle class and
“I told people many times standing on their front stoop, ‘Affordability is an intractable problem,’
” he said. “It takes enormous political will to change the affordability of the people … . Our
public-sector economy is disproportionately large. We have too many public employees. We’ve
spent too much taxpayer money. We can’t all work for the government.
“We need to incentivize and we need to grow our private-sector economy. It is the only
pathway we have to get out of the economic problems that we have in this state.”
Another campaign promise Barranco made was to win people their medical freedom. In
particular, he spoke about abortion and COVID-19 mandates.
“The larger, more active political efforts with respect to the sovereignty of your own body is
abortion,” he said. “I don’t support abortion. And the biggest argument that I have for that is
and I tell everybody, ‘Listen, our mother didn’t give up on you.’ Why should we permit mothers
to give up on their children? I know my mother didn’t give up on me. I didn’t give up on my
three kids. My wife didn’t give up on her three kids. I believe life is sacred.
“So medical freedom, the ability to say, ‘Listen, I don’t want to be vaccinated. I don’t need to be
vaccinated.’ I had Covid. I have all the antibodies I need for the future to defeat Covid again. So
I’m not vaccinated and I won’t be vaccinated.”
He also spoke about the ability to choose which schools children could attend based on the
“Our schools have become laboratories for re-engineering human society. I don’t approve of
that,” he said. “I think that parents should have greater control over what their children learn. I
don’t believe that school boards are the ones that should be making decisions with respect to
curriculum in schools. I think that our schools right now do way too much campaigning in the
minds of children, teaching them things in politics that school has no place doing.
“There’s curriculum that’s being taught in schools, that is teaching children that American
history is somehow evil. I don’t believe in critical race theory. I believe that that’s created by
sociology departments and the universities of this country that are completely radicalizing the
population that graduates from those institutions.
“I never thought in a million years that institutions of higher learning could become basically
indoctrination centers. Teach the kids how to read, how to write, teach the kids critical thinking,
advanced mathematics, things of that nature, and let people be people.
“This continued push to reorganize or revolutionize human society, it’s not going anywhere.
The only thing it’s doing is it’s angering people. So I think we need to scale that back a little bit
and let people arrive at their own conclusions.”
Barranco also said he believes that the United States has made great strides in helping the
disadvantaged. Enough has been done to help under-served individuals, whether they are
African-American, Hispanic or of other minority groups, assimilate into society, he said.
As a part of the Assembly, Barranco was assigned to a variety of committees.
“I am a member of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee,” he said. “I’m a
member of the Telecommunication Utilities Committee, which is right at my wheelhouse
because I’m an electrician, and I’m a member of the Science, Innovation and Technology
Part of the latter committee’s work is dealing with cybersecurity. With Russia’s invasion of
Ukraine, Barranco and other committee members are watching for cyber attacks in this
“Warfare is not only on the battlefield anymore. Warfare is very much in cyberspace,” he said.
“With conflicts like this throughout the globe, you’ll see tremendous increases in cyber attacks
during these conflicts because they use the internet to sort of cast information out into the
world. They use the internet to manipulate and for propaganda. So we’re going to start seeing
quite a bit of that if we haven’t started to start to see it already.”
Contact Anthony Gabbianelli at firstname.lastname@example.org