Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan addressed hundreds of the local Bangladesh-American community Tuesday with a vow to fight to preserve liberty.

The former Bogota mayor spoke at Atlantic City's third-annual festival sponsored by the Bangladesh Association of Atlantic County at Bader Field.

“I remember when Bangladesh fought for its freedom from Pakistan (in 1971),” he said. “Many of you know about what freedom and liberty means more than many Americans.”

Lonegan told the crowd he shares their values of family, liberty and small business.

“I am for small business, not big government,” he said. “I will fight for your liberty like those who fought for your liberty from Pakistan.”

The annual event is designed to unify local residents of Bangladesh descent and promote their culture, said Shelim Fultan, the organization’s president. A few hundred people came to experience Bangladesh music, food and traditional dances on the main stage.

Fultan also said the event helps children of Bangladesh immigrants learn more about their culture.

Lonegan will face Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a special election for the U.S. Senate seat on Oct. 16, and the winner will hold the seat until another election in November 2014.

The election was scheduled after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg in June.

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.