Jersey City voters on Tuesday gave Steve Fulop and most of his list of decisive wins, sending the mayor to a historic third term.
For that, Fulop deserves congratulations and good wishes as he prepares to continue ruling the second largest city in the state and forging his way.
Likewise in Hoboken, outgoing mayor Ravi Bhalla, who ran unopposed, won and took with him his list of three council members.
Although these are non-partisan elections, the municipal results speak well for the Hudson County Democratic Organization and the political establishment here.
But we’d like to stop the pats on the back for some reality testing.
Jersey City voters in Ward F disagreed with the result, voting slightly more for challenger Lewis Spears than Mayor Fulop, according to unofficial results to date. And they elected board challenger Frank “Educational” Gilmore, dismissing the incumbent and his teammate Fulop Jermaine Robinson.
Spears, a newcomer to politics, was behind the curve and spectacularly eclipsed when it comes to fundraising. Yet his message resonated more than Fulop’s with voters in Ward F, a neighborhood that faces the challenges of poverty and crime while fearing the juggernaut of gentrification that has taken hold in such a large city. part of town.
For years, locals and community activists have decried the ‘two-town tale’ that so aptly describes Jersey City, and while Fulop has pushed for several major investment projects – the creation of Berry Lane Park and the annex of City Hall in Jackson Square, for example – he failed to make many in the community believe that he respects them or really cares about them.
The question of whether he respects the residents of Ward F came to a head when he accepted Spears’ invitation to debate at an event at Lincoln High School, then said at the last minute that he had a scheduling conflict.
During his historic third term, Fulop has the opportunity to create an equally historic legacy by getting to work on policies that would create meaningful change in the southern end of the city without charging its current residents.
A strong inclusionary zoning ordinance to ensure affordable housing is included in new developments must be its first step.
After that, he has to look at, for example, rent control, public safety, employment opportunities and drug abuse prevention.
He needs to step up and listen to his opponents who won on Tuesday – elected Councilor Gilmore and re-elected Ward E Warden James Solomon – because they both have their finger on the pulse of the people. (He also has to apologize to Gilmore for the particularly nasty campaign tactics against him.)
He needs to sit down with Spears and learn from him.
It needs to be more visible in neighborhoods A and F and, again, involve residents and listen to their concerns and the obstacles they face.
City-wide, it must tackle quality of life issues such as traffic while addressing the overarching concern of affordability.
In Hoboken, one quirk of this election seems to be the number of written votes. Without a challenger, Bhalla was obviously a shoo-in, but he wouldn’t have been everyone’s first choice if they had had the choice.
He too would be wise to engage his critics and work with them on solutions to the problems they would prioritize.
Across the county, the lack of choice in many elections was worrisome.
While some would say this is a sign of confidence in the current leadership, we would respond that it is a symptom of a larger problem of people turned off by the political climate.
Look at the turnout. While Hudson County is growing, the number of votes cast on this tour has not increased.
Maybe people were shy about COVID and without the ballots being sent out en masse, they did not take the initiative to vote. Maybe the gloomy weather was a factor. Maybe the polls seemed to point to conclusions in advance, so why bother?
Or maybe the lesser of two evils just wasn’t motivating enough.
We encourage organizations like OHCDO to prioritize finding, nurturing and nurturing a diverse next generation of new blood for the public service. This is exactly what the Hudson County Progressive Alliance appears to be doing, and although it is still in the “degradation” phase, it is refreshing to see an effort to expand, not consolidate, the to be able to.
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