‘It's such an honor for me’: News 12 speaks with New Jersey’s first Latina mayor

Tuesday was the first day of a month-long celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, and in Perth Amboy, Mayor Wilda Diaz celebrates her heritage and the heritage of the people she serves every day.

News 12 Staff

Sep 18, 2020, 11:17 AM

Updated 1,368 days ago

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Tuesday was the first day of a month-long celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, and in Perth Amboy, Mayor Wilda Diaz celebrates her heritage and the heritage of the people she serves every day.
It’s a community rich in Hispanic culture, as around 80% of the city’s population is Hispanic.
“It's such an honor for me to represent a community so diverse within the Hispanic community, Latino community,” says Mayor Diaz.
Diaz has been the mayor for 12 years, and not only is she the city's first female mayor -- she is New Jersey’s first Latina mayor.
“Women always have to compete sometimes with our peers, or we always have to show we could do the same job,” says Mayor Diaz. “But I think it's harder especially when you are a woman of color... a Latina.”
Her parents moved to Perth Amboy from Puerto Rico and started their family. Mayor Diaz is one of six girls.
News 12 asked Mayor Diaz to meet at a spot that helped shape her. She chose Perth Amboy High School, where she, her husband, siblings and children all walked the halls.
“Many of my fellow Perth Amboy High School students, when you take a look at what they're doing now, they're doing amazing things,” says Mayor Diaz. “From leadership roles to being judges to be doctors. They don't forget where they came from, once a panther always a panther.”
But before the school played a role, there was the building on Zambori Street, where her family called home.
“I'm a product of public housing for the most part up to the age of 14, and then my dad had the American dream to purchase a home,” says Mayor Diaz.
Her father made that dream come true on Stockton Street.
“Our families come here with a dream, to give back and to work and to like, make things better for their children,” says Mayor Diaz.
Generations of hard work from other Hispanic and Latino families are on display every day in the heart of Perth Amboy.


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