Another candidate enters race to replace Sires in Congress


Looks like Rob Menendez will not have an unimpeded road to D.C.

North Bergen resident and entrepreneur and a former intern to Republican Gov. Christopher J. Christie, Brian Varela, 33,  announced he will challenge Menendez for the 8th Congressional District seat now occupied by U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-West New York. Another candidate, David Ocampo, has also announced a run for the seat, the NJ Globe reported.

Varela, the son of immigrants, was the first person in his family to graduate college and went on to get his MBA from one of the top business schools in the country. In his first corporate job at a publicly traded company, he negotiated the largest deal in the organization’s history within his first three years. He went on to form several companies in aesthetics, marketing and early childhood education.

He says he’s proud to have employed hundreds of workers while making sure they made more than a living wage. He says he has given back to his local community and internationally. He has known since he was a teen his destiny was to make a difference, to create a better world. He is ready to move into that role.

“I face a great challenge, where party leaders have already chosen a candidate to fill the seat. That is not how democracy is supposed to work,” Varela said. “The people should be able to choose the candidate they feel best represents them, not one chosen for them. In this new post-pandemic world, people have lost jobs, homes and we are seeing a mental health crisis like no other. We need leaders who can navigate these difficult times, restore constituents’ faith in government and remind them of how resilient Americans can be.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.