Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, it's my pleasure to introduce Cardell Cooper and
Harold Lucas today and express my strong support for their nominations. Both are residents of
my home state of New Jersey -- in fact, they are from the same home town, East Orange. I can't
remember another instance when one town in New Jersey had two of its sons nominated to high
posts in the same Department at the same time. So, I'm a proud Senator today.
Mr. Chairman, I'd also like to welcome members of the Cooper and Lucas families here today
who, I am sure, more than share my pride. Cardell's wife Sandy is here with us, as is Harold's
wife, Emma. I welcome you both.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development faces continued challenges today. Despite
our robust economy, we still have urban areas in desperate need of affordable housing and
struggling to revive local economies. Cardell Cooper and Harold Lucas have first hand
knowledge of these struggles, based on their experience in local government. Both are eminently
qualified by professional experience and personal dedication to serve at HUD and help the
Department achieve its mission.
Prior to his nomination, Mr. Lucas served as Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the
City of Newark, New Jersey. When Mr. Lucas took hold of the reins at the Housing Authority in
1992, it was -- quite frankly -- in a shambles. HUD considered it to be a "troubled" agency and
had given it failing grades since its creation in the 1970s. Within two years of taking over, Mr.
Lucas turned things around. Last year, the agency received a 94 percent rating -- an A in anyone's
book -- and is now considered one of the top performing housing agencies in both New Jersey
and the nation.
During his tenure, Mr. Lucas tore down many dilapidated high-rise buildings and replaced them
with more attractive townhouse-style housing that provides a better quality of life for tenants and
improves the neighborhoods that surround it. Our nation's housing authorities will be well served
by having someone as dynamic and experienced as Mr. Lucas at the helm.
Mr. Cooper served with distinction as mayor of East Orange from 1990 to 1997. Prior to serving
as mayor, from 1988 to 1990, Mr. Cooper was County Administrator for Essex County, where he
was responsible for day-to-day management of the one of the largest and most urban counties in
As a mayor and county administrator, Mr. Cooper was on the front lines. His practical
experience, coupled with his passion for public service, makes him an excellent choice for this
post. He knows the critical difference that community development programs can make to
communities and their residents, and will be able to forge strong partnerships between local, state
and federal governments. His commitment to local economic development, programs serving
our young people, such as YouthBuild, and urban environmental initiatives, such as the new
brownfields program, will fuel his efforts to help our urban leaders succeed. Through his work
with the Conference of Mayors, he has built solid relationships with mayors across the country
and enjoys bipartisan support. His endorsement by the Conference of Mayors is a testament to
the leadership he has provided.
Mr. Chairman, while professional experience and particular skills are important for effective
service, Cardell Cooper and Harold Lucas also have the kind of personal strengths and attributes
the Senate looks for in nominees to high posts. They are both energetic leaders, with a strong
work ethic and a deep commitment to public service and the mission of the Department. I can
personally attest to their integrity and ability to work well within a larger organization.
Mr. Chairman, I hope this Committee will act expeditiously to approve the nominations of
Cardell Cooper and Harold Lucas. I very much appreciate your scheduling this hearing during
these last busy days of the session and hope the Senate will confirm their nominations before we
adjourn this year. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce them to you.
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