New Jersey lost a proud progressive, liberal voice last night with the passing of Byron Baer, retired NJ State Senator for district 37. Legislative giant for four decades dies at 77 Byron spent 34 years in the New Jersey legislature; 21 years as an Assemblyman and 11 years as a state Senator.
Byron orginally pursued a career in movies special effects, but moved to politics after the call of social justice led him to became a Freedom Rider in the 1960's. His efforts to expose inequality and promote voting rights resulted him serving time in the Mississippi state Penitentiary along with Martin Luther King.
During his time in the legislature, Byron wrote and/or sponsored NJ's Truth in Pricing, Right to know Act, Open Public Meetings Act (Sunshine Law), Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act, Ethnic Terrorism Act, Open Public Records Act, and many more devoted to good government, civil rights and Consumer protection. Byron's legislation served as a model for many other states and for national legislation. Biography
Byron devoted his life to public service and to his family. Bryon didn't just talk about civil rights, he tried to experience it. When migrant farm workers were being abused, Byron went undercover as a farm worker to experience the conditions first hand. When he was discovered, he was beaten and hospitalized. This experience resulted in the some of the first legislation in the country designed to protect these workers.
Bryon won numerous awards and certificates, but he was always motivated by the fact that Government should protect those that needed protection and that Government could work effectively if it was open and available for public participation and input.
On a personal note, Bryon is my step-father. Bryon was warm, caring, loving and funny. He always made time to be with family and when public obligations interferred, we understood since we knew he was contributing to a better society.
My entire family is very sad about this loss, but relieved that the suffering that Bryon had been experiencing is over. We are so extremely proud of his service to this state and the country.
I think it is easy to get jaded and lose faith in government with the current administration. The early years of Byron's career where in the Nixon Era. The words and actions of politicans like Byron who put ideals and legislative action ahead of self promotion went a long way towards healing the country. If we fight for and promote politicans like Byron Baer we can help heal this country from the nightmare the current administration has created.