New Jersey Democratic Representative Donald Payne Jr. Passes Away at 65

( – Born and raised in New Jersey, Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) was elected to the House of Representatives during a special election in the 10th Congressional District in 2012. He has served in that position since then, fighting to create jobs for those in his state, grow the economy, and keep families in his district healthy and safe.

On April 24, Fox News confirmed that the NJ lawmaker had died from “heart problems.” The 65-year-old had apparently been dealing with health problems for years. He reportedly had a heart attack on April 6 and has been in the hospital on a ventilator ever since. Payne’s father, Representative Donald Payne Sr. (D-NJ) incidentally also died while serving the great state of New Jersey in 2012 — when his son started his tenure by filling his dad’s seat.

Payne Jr. was known for his snazzy bowties, “tenacious spirit,” and “big heart.” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) said the legislator “embodied the very best of public service.” The state leader said he and his wife were devastated by the loss.

In his statement, Governor Murphy revealed that Representative Payne used to be a “union worker and toll collector,” so he was well aware of the struggles working families face every day in America and especially in New Jersey. That’s why he “fought valiantly” to serve them “every single day” without fail.

Murphy called it a “great honor” to have worked with the legislator to build a stronger state, vowing to “build upon” his family’s legacy. He then sent his condolences to Payne’s wife, Beatrice, and their three children — Donald III, Jack, and Yvonne.

The lawmaker made a name for himself by helping to secure a $900 million allocation from the federal government for the Gateway tunnel project, which runs between NJ and New York under the Hudson River. He also supported testing water in schools for lead, made an effort to improve school safety, and worked to make emergency responses to natural disasters better.

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