Although not seen as historic as Mayor Steven Fulop’s first swearing in four years ago, the event was partly a celebration of the city’s ethnic diversity since among those being sworn-in were Korean-American Councilman Michael Yun and Filipino-American Councilman Rolando Lavarro.
“This is was a moving event because it showed the ethnic diversity of our city,” said Carol Lester, a local performer who had come to witness the event.
The ceremony included gospel music performance by members of Mount Olive Baptist Church as well as an Indian dance by Cinna Chandran of Surati for Performing Arts along with a choral performance by McNair Academic High School Chamber Choir and the singing of the National Anthem by Renata Thomas of County Prep.
Because the municipal elections were changed from May to November, the ceremony took place in doors as opposed to the front steps of City Hall as in the past, causing a spillover of well-wishers into the halls outside the council chambers.
A brief video highlighted many of the accomplishments of Fulop’s first four years, and in his speech after being sworn-in, Fulop promised to continue the policies his administration has implemented since his taking office.
He said four years ago, after being sworn in for his first term, he said what he believed.
“I said I thought Jersey City could become a national example for embracing our differences,” he said.
What if the residents of the city could set a progressive agenda that brought people together. Fulop in 2013 set upon an agenda that would help the city become an economic engine and still retain its progressive values. “These are not mutually exclusive,” he said. “They can actually happen simultaneous.”
He said in 2013, he could never have imagined all the different cultures that had come together.
He described his experience in office as “joy, frustration, excitement, sorrow and pride.”
“It has been rewarding and challenging,” he said.
Since being sworn in for the first time, he said he has worked to make Jersey City an example for the country, and the city has become a national model on a number of fronts include prisoner reentry.
He pointed to development of new parks, establishing of a bike share program, summer jobs for kids, and regaining of local control of the schools from the state. He said his administration saw the raising of minimum wage for municipal workers, and offering of transgender health benefits for those who work for the city. He also celebrated the expansion of the police force from all time lows to more than 960 officers with the latest class.
He said these were accomplished while still having stable taxes. He believes that he helped create brighter future for the city in his first four years, and hoped to continue that over the next four.
"In a city full of diverse residents, with differing viewpoints and ever-changing needs, this result clearly proves that the vast majority of residents believe in our progress during the past four years, and are committed to working together to move Jersey City forward during the next four, too," he said. "I am beyond grateful to have earned your confidence during my first term, and I promise that I will never let you down,” he said, noting that his win with more than 78 percent of votes cast was a report card on his administration. “I promise never to let you down over the next four years. We've certainly made our share of mistakes, but as we start the next four years together, I am a better individual, a better mayor, and we are a better city with an even brighter future as we start this new term.”
Council members sworn-in with conflict over council presidency
The ceremony included the swearing-in of nine council members, of which Denise Ridley, Mira Prinz-Arey and James Solomon are new.
Councilmembers Richard Boggiano, Michael Yun, Daniel Rivera, and Joyce Watterman were sworn-in for their second four year terms.
Ronaldo Lavarro, who was also reelected for his second term as council president, was sworn-in for his third four year term on the council.
Jermaine Robison, who was appointed in January 2017 to replace Diane Coleman as Ward F council member, was sworn in for his first full four-year term.
The newly elected council, however, was split in selecting the council president since many believed Lavarro and Watterman were the contenders.
“I believe I have enough votes on the council,” Lavarro said before the meeting.
Watterman and Rivera voted against Lavarro.
But all three new members as well as Boggiano, Robinson, Yun, and Lavarro voted for Lavarro.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.