ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) A state government official whose husband was killed in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center is Gov. Jon Corzine’s choice as the newest commissioner of the agency that is rebuilding the site.
Virginia Bauer, the state’s commerce secretary, was nominated March 26 by Corzine to serve on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
An outspoken advocate for families who lost loved ones in the terror attacks, the mother of three would be the first 9/11 widow from New Jersey to serve on the board.
“Not long after 9/11, I realized the most important tribute I could give my husband and the people that died that day is to live life fully,” she said. “It’s our way of fighting terrorism.”
“I never would have imagined that when I took my life out of pause, Governor Corzine would choose me as his first appointment to the board of the Port Authority,” Bauer said. “I am extremely humbled by this nomination and, if confirmed by the State Senate, I will continue to be a voice for my neighbors in New Jersey, and everyone — one both sides of the Hudson — who lost a family member, friend or loved on on 9/11.”
Bauer’s husband, David, was the head of global sales for Cantor Fitzgerald’s electronic trading unit. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, he was on his way to a meeting in his office on the 105th floor of the trade center’s north tower when a hijacked plane slammed into it.
After the initial shock of his death wore off, Bauer said she was filled with “nervous energy,” and needed to do something.
She sent her two teenage boys and younger daughter back to school a few days after the attacks and started thinking of what she could do to help other 9/11 victim families.
While her husband’s investments left the Bauers financially comfortable, she knew that wasn’t the case for other families who lost their main breadwinners. So less than a month after the attacks, Bauer began working on a way to secure tax relief for the victim families.
She called anyone she thought she could help, starting with a former tennis partner — Joanne Corzine, who at the time was married to then-Sen. Jon Corzine.
Bauer lobbied Congress and the White House, and became a frequent face on national talk shows. Four months after the attacks, she stood next to President Bush as he signed a bill into law granting income and estate tax relief for 2000 and 2001 to victim families. The bill also ensured those families a minimum of $10,000 in tax benefits.
She will leave her job as commerce secretary at some point later this year. Corzine said the department is undergoing a restructuring and it is not clear if the top job will be funded.
“Ginny Bauer is an exceptional public servant — one of the best New Jersey has ever seen,” Corzine said. He added that Bauer’s “integrity, business savvy, commitment to excellence, and advocacy for the families of 9/11 victims” make her the perfect choice to represent New Jersey on the Port Authority board.
“I am honored and grateful she has agreed to serve,” he said.
In August 2003, then-Gov. James McGreevey appointed Bauer to head the state lottery.
She became head of the state’s Commerce, Economic Growth & Tourism Commission in July 2004.
Although Bauer is the first New Jersey 9/11 widow to serve on the board, Christine A. Ferer was appointed to it in 2004. She is the widow of Neil Levin, who was executive director of the Port Authority and who died in the attacks on the trade center.
Bauer said she does not expect that she and Ferer will carry extra influence on matters regarding the trade center rebuilding just because of the sacrifices their families made on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I never liked to play on that emotional tug,” she said. But Bauer said she and Ferer can provide “a clear voice” regarding the feelings of families who lost loved ones in the attack.
The Port Authority is a bi-state agency that operates the region’s three airports, as well as seaports, bridges and tunnels. It also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, and is building a replacement for the twin towers.
Construction of the 1,776-ft. Freedom Tower has been under way for nearly a year.