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On August 22, 2013, Bergen County Freeholder candidate John Felice (running for his second term) visited KACE to introduce himself to the Korean American community.

John Felice was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Both of his parents were born in the United States, but his grandparents immigrated from Italy, and he greatly appreciates his Italian background. Graduating from William Paterson University, he majored in Art and illustrated for a period of time during his post-college years. Felice then began involved in computer/electronics sales in healthcare and worked for Roche Diagnostics. Then, he was elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in November 2010. On January 3, 2012, Freeholder Felice was sworn in as Vice Chairman to the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Currently, he represents community action partnership and is part of the New Jersey Legislature.

Candidate Felice believes it is paramount that Bergen County is affordable to live in for everybody. He proudly notes that during his three years, he has helped raise incomes for households and cut taxes without drastically changing the services provided to the public. Felice plans to continue this positive trend and enhance the county economy. He also holds local parks and fields as important for the middle class; Felice believes many people go to the local parks for recreational purposes. In the past, he has revitalized parks such as the Riverside Park, and helped create accessible areas for activities. If he is to be re-elected, Felice wants to continue his efforts to improve local parks for the public. Finally, he believes that making agencies accessible to the community, such as veterans’ and healthcare services, is vital.

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Currently living in River Edge, he is aware of the growing Korean American population in Bergen County. Felice increased his understanding of the Korean American community in Bergen County through his visit to KACE, and learning that 6% of the total population in Bergen County are Korean Americans and that they are the largest minority group, he sees the economic impact that Korean Americans have on the communities in terms of small businesses and job creations.

In the past, one of Freeholder Felice’s primary interests has been making public services accessible to the public. Whether this is through translators for minorities or raising overall awareness of these services, he has helped people throughout the community. He believes that the majority of the Korean Americans struggle with gaining access to and understanding information; this is mostly due to the language barrier. Therefore, Felice will strive to enhance the synergy between the minorities and the government agencies.

Also, keeping in mind that many Korean Americans run their own small businesses, Felice believes that it is important to keep taxes low to support them. He stated that he respects Korean businesses and will also help big corporations such as LG to move into local areas; this will help the local economies by providing job opportunities. A member of a private sector himself, he realizes the importance of companies and family-owned businesses for the local community.

Finally, Felice admits that there is currently a barrier between minorities (such as Korean Americans) and the Freeholders. Many people do not know what the Freeholders do for Bergen County and are unable to voice their opinions. He stated that he will stay in tune with the Korean American community–by translating Korean newspapers and reading issues, for example–and bridge the gap. He sees himself as a cheerleader for the county, but people should take initiatives in seeking help.

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Bergen County Freeholder candidate John Felice (third from left) with the KACE interns (From left: Miji Park, Ji Soo Park,  Hee-Sung Kim, Jiyong Kim, David Ryu).

KOREAN AMERICAN CIVIC EMPOWERMENT
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