Whether it’s protecting the environment, civil rights or animal rights, New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace is hard at work crusading for his home state of New Jersey.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Tim is the Democrat Assemblyman for the 38th. Legislative District. His District encompasses municipalities in both Bergen and Passaic Counties. Before his election to the NJ General Assembly in 2012, Dr. Eustace served on the Council, was Council President and then Mayor of the Borough of Maywood.
Eustace received his degree in psychology from Ramapo College and went on to get his doctorate at Pennsylvania College of Chiropractic. He is a practicing chiropractor at the Family Chiropractic Center in Maywood.
He has been interested in politics since he was very young. In the sixth grade he campaigned for Hubert Humphrey vs. Richard Nixon. In college, he worked hard to become a doctor and served on his college senate. He said when his town doubled the parking fines in front of his office; it was the catalyst for his running for office in local government.
Eustace is one of the only two openly gay members of the New Jersey State Assembly. He has had some difficulty being an out gay politician. “My husband and I were very active in our community and church. I was the President of the Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, so people saw me as more than just a gay candidate,” he said. “The only issue was when a Republican candidate once suggested I was pushing the gay agenda. This nonsense energized my voters and increased voter turnout.”
He was with his partner Kevin Williams, for 35 years before Kevin passed away in 2015. After New Jersey passed same-sex marriage in 2013, they were married at their home. Eustace spoke about grief, and whether or not grief changes you as a person. He said the old adage is true, “When you go through terrible times you emerge as a better person.” He would hope his friends would see him that way.
Tim and Kevin became the first openly gay couple in New Jersey to apply to the state for joint adoption in 1988. The battle they faced was an uphill one; one they never gave up on. They became the proud parents of three sons. Their one son, Lee passed away at the age of 12 from HIV complications.
Eustace said of parenting, “The most important lesson we wanted our sons to learn was to be kind. They are fine young men and treat people well. Each gives back in their own way. It makes a dad very proud.”
Balancing life is important he says whether you are a parent or not. He loves his two full time jobs and may have missed one ball game when his sons were little. “You make time for the things that are important in your life. We adopted and we wanted these boys. We made sure there was time for them.”
Balancing all that Eustace says is no easy task. He works tirelessly for New Jersey. He us the Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chair. He said the environment is the number one issue in our state. He sponsored the Clean Vehicle Task Force to promote low and zero emission vehicles and spoke at the Clean Water Action Conference in 2017 on the right to have clean air and water. He practices what he preaches too. He drives an all-electric vehicle.
Eustace has traveled to all seven continents and said, “Trust me, there is evidence of water scarcity planet wide.” As Chair of the Environment Committee, he is very concerned about our surroundings. “I am most passionate about water. It is a finite resource and if we are not careful, we could squander much of it. There are states in our country that are presently buying their water from other states. This is a warning. We use drinking water to water our lawns and flush our toilets; this is not well thought out in my opinion.”
Besides crusading for the environment, Dr. Eustace is a big supporter of animal rights, sponsoring bills to prevent illegal tiger trading, protecting the monarch butterfly, and prohibiting snares when trapping wildlife. He said that animal rights issues are important because they reflect how we treat others,“ …sort of a mirror to our inner workings.”
Eustace is a champion of everyone’s rights. When he delivered meals to the elderly in Glen Rock, NJ through their program, Community Meals, Inc., he witnessed how much need there is. The present Trump Administration’s position on Meals on Wheels he find appaling, “We are thinking about cutting off the elderly, the poor, and the poor elderly. These creeps keep talking about a Christian nation, but they should walk the walk. Everyone should be outraged about the idea of cutting off a program like this. We need to stand up for each other.”
He also has sponsored a bill in Trenton to prohibit rent increases for seniors under certain circumstances.
Standing up for transgender rights is another priority for Assemblyman Tim Eustace. “We need to protect our transgender citizens, more than we do,” he said. “Somewhere, every day a transgender person is brutally murdered or commits suicide.” He has set out to make sure New Jersey protects transgender citizens. “We all should be seen as full citizens.”
He co-sponsored a package of bills approved by the General Assembly in March 2017 to establish a task force to help the transgender community gain equality, by securing non-discriminatory medical coverage, and raising support and awareness.
He also sponsored a bill banning licensed therapists to practice gay conversion on minors, a practice he called, “an insidious form of child abuse.” Gov. Christie signed the bill on Aug. 19, 2013. New Jersey became the second state, following California to ban conversion-therapy.
Eustace is fighting to have the 2020 Census include LGBT representation, saying that, “It’s important that all Americans are represented.”
He talked about bipartisan support in Trenton and said, “It happens in Trenton much more frequently than people think. He said, “many legislators have good cross-the-aisle relationships. By and large they represent the same folks, so we really have much in common.” Eustace said that problems result when the Governor vetoes, and then his counterparts tend to back off.
“Many public servants do a great job,” Eustace said. “We are vilified as politicians. I think most of us do it for the right reasons; just sometimes people miss the path. Hopefully, someone will tell me if that happens to me.”
He feels that LGBT rights are in jeopardy right now, as are women’s reproductive rights. He says that gay marriage can be rolled back. “This is an opportunity to shore up our state’s rights to protect our citizens. Even if the folks in Washington think that the Constitution applies to only some people,” he said. “We here in New Jersey have an obligation to serve all of our residents, all of them.”
His best advice to the LGBT community is to be vigilant. To read everything, pay attention, talk to neighbors, friends, and contact both State and Federal representatives. He said to stand up and make sure you are heard. People need to voice their opinions, even protesting to take responsibility. Eustace said, “We will prevail.”
When I interviewed Assemblyman Eustace, he had just returned from a conference in Nepal. He loves to travel, be it business or pleasure, and fondly recalled a birthday celebrated at the Louvre in Paris years before.
He pondered what he wanted his legacy to be. “I have been very blessed. I come from very humble, poor, sometimes homeless background. Many folks helped me. I have been in recovery for more years than not, over 36 years. I just try to do what’s right. I try to walk the walk. We were a gay couple that had a 35-year relationship until my husband died. We’ve parented three boys. We’ve been living an incredible life. So, just maybe a legacy would be to try to do what’s right, and let that be an example.”
Dr. Tim Eustace’s current term in the State Assembly will end on Jan. 9, 2018. He is seeking re-election this fall. The 38th Legislative District is very competitive and he hopes to win again in November. A politician with his humbleness and compassion for everyone’s human rights would be just the win for New Jersey.