Elected Public Official of the Year
NJ Representative Timothy Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic)
We call upon our elected officials to work, on our behalf, on legislation addressing a broad range of issues. When these bills are enacted into law, they represent the collective values of our society. Of particular interest to NASW-NJ are legislative issues that affect social justice, health care, education, civil and human rights, and social work practice.
NJ Representative Timothy Eustace sponsored Bill A-3371 to prohibit Reparative (aka Conversion) Therapy, a treatment that was aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors. Assemblyman Eustace’s sponsorship was a shining example of a vital legislative effort to remediate a harmful practice.
As Eustace put it: “Studies and personal testimony have shown this practice creates irreparable harm on young people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. Forcing someone to deny their innate feelings and their very existence has led to depression, suicidal tendencies and other untold harm. Leading psychological professionals agree that this practice has no place in legitimate mental health therapies.”
After Bill A-3371 became law on August 19, 2013, Assemblyman Eustace continued his work to insure its viability, even as the law was being challenged in court. In addition, he continued his work in the NJ Assembly on many other bills that strengthen social work values, including support for veterans, people with disabilities, and children and families.
Eustace was elected to the legislature in 2011, becoming the first openly gay person elected to the New Jersey Legislature as a non-incumbent. He also served four years as mayor of Maywood (2008–2012), three years as borough council president (2005–2008) and a decade on the borough council (1995–1997 and 2001–2008). In the Assembly, he is Vice-Chair of the Regulatory Oversight committee, and also serves on the Health and Senior Services and the State and Local Government committees.
For his continued advocacy on behalf of social workers and those we serve, the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is pleased to honor Assemblyman Timothy Eustace as its 2014 Elected Public Official of the Year.