Calling it a historic day for the city, Davis said Bayonne was poised like never before to usher in an era of change.
“My message today is straightforward,” he said, during his inaugural address. “It’s time to unify Bayonne.”
Possibly referring to the hard-fought and contentious general and runoff elections, which included accusations of dirty campaigning and even allegations of voter fraud, Davis said it would now take more than just words to unify Bayonne.
“It’s going to take three wards, 51 election districts, three square miles, and all 65,000 residents to make it happen,” Davis said.
Saying that the campaigning was over, Bayonne’s new chief executive proclaimed that it was now time to govern. He asked the city to think about doing things differently, and have more dialogue about government, echoing one of the main focuses of his campaign: having a transparent administration.
Davis said he and his newly elected full council would get right to work. Sharon Nadrowski was selected as council president, a surprise to some who thought the seat might go to former Hudson County sheriff Juan Perez or former councilman Gary La Pelusa. Others had thought that First Ward Councilman Thomas Cotter, the only candidate of the six on the Davis slate to win outright in the May 13 municipal elections, might get the nod. Second Ward Councilman Salvatore Gullace rounds out the new council.
Davis touched on many of his major campaign themes: revitalizing Broadway, developing the former Military Ocean Terminal site, expanding recreational opportunities for city youth, the reestablishment of rent control, and settling the teachers’ contract.
Calling Broadway the “heart and soul” of Bayonne, he said that “smart” development there and at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor were imperative and were vital to the city moving forward successfully.
“This is the future of Bayonne,” Davis said.
The expansion of recreational opportunities and facilities in the city was a major theme for Davis during the election season and it will continue to be during his administration. Saying that it was an issue that had been ignored for too long, Davis promised meetings with youth sports leaders and parents in the upcoming weeks to create a plan.
The mayor also promised to push for the reinstitution of rent control in Bayonne. Vacancy decontrol, which allows landlords to apply to remove units from rent control if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted, and which currently exists in the city, was widely criticized by Davis supporters during the election.
“The passage of sensible rent control regulations is paramount to keeping our city affordable and safe for its residents,” he said. “This is a must.”
The unsettled teachers’ contract, an issue in the city for more than four years, is one that Davis hopes to put to rest soon. He pledged to do what he could to have the stalemate settled by the start of school in September.
Calling teachers the “backbone of this community,” Davis said they are mentors and role models of Bayonne’s publicly educated students, and should be treated with that importance, including at the bargaining table.
“That’s why I’m committed to working toward resolving the teachers’ contract throughout the summer,” he said. “We cannot truly move Bayonne in the right direction until this is resolved.”
Davis also stressed that the “Raise the Roadway” project under way on the Bayonne Bridge must be closely monitored to ensure that residents’ quality of life is not negatively impacted.
Reminiscing about growing up in Bayonne, Davis talked about playing on local ball fields, and being educated in the city. He thanked family and friends for their long and undying support.
Davis also spoke about his 28-year Bayonne law enforcement career, which came to an end with his recent resignation.
Movers and shakers
Davis was sworn in by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. Among those also in attendance were U.S. Representative Albio Sires, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, and State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. The mayor thanked Menendez and Sires for being advocates in Congress for Bayonne, acquiring grants and other monies for transportation, public safety, and education.