At a Monday event in a packed conference hall in East Rutherford, NJ, Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for Governor, announced her selection of Milly Silva as her running mate.

Milly is the 1199SEIU Executive Vice President for the New Jersey region. Over the past decade, she has led 1199SEIU to become the largest and most powerful long-term care workers union in the state, winning groundbreaking contracts for members and protecting quality care for thousands of nursing home residents through legislative and public policy advocacy.

"A lot is riding on this election for my family, especially when it comes to raising the minimum wage," said Regina Santos, a dietary aide at Forest Hill Healthcare Center in Newark, NJ. "My daughter earns $7.25 working at a restaurant, and she isn't able to support herself financially. I want her to be able to live independently and have a bright future, and that's why I'm going to be knocking on doors, making phone calls and telling everyone I know to vote for Barbara Buono and Milly Silva."

A Bronx native and the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Milly grew up in a single parent household and credits the early educational opportunities she received through a middle school scholarship as a stepping stone towards her future successes.

After becoming the first member of her family to attain a college degree, Milly dedicated herself to community and labor organizing, working with low-income tenants, healthcare workers, and other marginalized people in their struggles to attain the American Dream.

Citing her lifelong passion for social justice, Sen. Buono called Milly “a woman whose fundamental beliefs align with this campaign’s guiding principle—that a strong and vibrant New Jersey doesn’t come from the top down but from a robust middle class.”

1199SEIU members attending the campaign event were thrilled by Sen. Buono’s choice of a fellow 1199er to be on her ticket.

"Senator Buono's selection of Milly to be her running mate means a lot to me as a caregiver. Their fight is what I'm fighting for too—better wages for workers, health care, and affordable education," said Vilma Jones, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Somerset. "I want to go back to school to continue my nursing studies, but with tuition costs the way they are, I can’t afford it. You can’t just have a small group of extremely wealthy at the top, and everyone else struggling to barely make ends meet, that’s not good for New Jersey and it’s not good for America. Senator Buono and Milly know that educational opportunities shouldn’t be closed off to those of limited means, so they are the perfect advocates for working people like me.”

In addition to Milly’s remarkable career as a labor leader, she has also been at the forefront of the battle to protect the livelihoods of the over forty thousand elderly and vulnerable residents of New Jersey’s nursing homes. As co-chair of the New Jersey Nursing Home Alliance for Quality Care, Milly led the successful effort to restore $50 million in Medicaid funding for long-term care facilities over the past two years—money that is necessary to ensure safe staffing levels and adequate resources for patient care.

“I’m way down there in the 99 percent,” said Charles Gordon, a retired 1199SEIU delegate who worked as a nurse’s aide in East Orange for 29 years. “As a retiree on a limited income, it’s important to me that we have leadership in Trenton who will advocate for seniors and protect Medicaid, and that’s why I know that Senator Buono and Milly are the right choice to lead our state forward.”

“I am honored to stand with Senator Buono today as we embark on this journey to restore New Jersey,” said Milly. “Senator Buono has always been a strong advocate for our middle class and our working people, our women and our children and our seniors—and I am proud to be on the ticket with a woman who shares my values.

“Here and now, the stakes are high. There is so much riding on this election. In this moment, men and women all across our state are counting on us. And we owe it to the people of New Jersey to deliver.”

- See more at: http://www.1199seiu.org/milly_silva_1199seiu_executive_vice_president_announced_as_democratic_candidate_for_lt_governor_of_new_jersey#sthash.IU2MpXvR.dpuf