“Yes, I’m absolutely ready to do this,” Davis said on Sunday. “I guess it’s like any other challenge you forge forward in life with. You just sink your teeth into it and start working on it; changing the city around, changing what the people want changed.”
Davis said the week since the election has been focused on assembling the transition team, considering candidates for various city posts and directorships, and deciding on the overall agenda of his administration.
Davis has not had any direct discussions with Smith or any of his representatives yet, he said.
The days immediately following his victory were chock full of meetings. Then it was off to the shore for a weekend with family and to celebrate Father’s Day.
This week Davis works on putting together his administration, and he is still receiving suggestions on who should fill vital posts. No definite decisions have been made on any positions yet. Campaign manager Joseph DeMarco has been named the transition chairman during this process.
“I’m still mulling those over,” he said. “This is when I’ll sit down and start making decisions.”
Davis said that no one on his campaign has been promised jobs, and that most of them were already employed.
“I have had conversations to fill certain positions, but there’s nothing etched in stone as of yet,” he said. “I think I’m close with the business administrator and with the law director. I’ve spoken to two people and have to decide which I want to go with.”
Davis said he had not spoken to anyone about the Department of Public Works position yet.
He said his three priorities upon taking office will be audits of city and Board of Education finances, ending the teachers’ contract impasse, and building relationships on the state and federal levels when it comes to educational and municipal monies.
“My first priority is to go to Trenton,” he said. “One of those things is to start forming that relationship with Trenton and with the federal government. There are a lot of grants out there for schools and for other things. We need to get the city fiscally back on its feet.”
Finally settling the teachers’ contract is also high on Davis’s agenda.
“I haven’t spoken with (teachers union representative) Alan D'Angelo since before the election,” he said. “But it's a priority to get it done. And without raising taxes. When I spoke to him before the election he was cooperative.”
Davis said it was hard to boil down his initiatives to a handful of priorities, because “there are so many.”
Asked if he felt having to win in the runoff, rather than in the original May 13 election, will now slow down his transition into government, he said possibly, but probably not much. Davis and Smith were forced into the runoff because neither could attain more than 50 percent of the vote with the presence of third candidate Anthony Zanowic.
Reaction of crowd in street
Davis said he was buoyed by the crowd when he looked out the second floor window of his election night headquarters following his win. There was pandemonium in the street below on Broadway, with a spontaneous element to it. Many were cheering, many shouting, and some were crying.
“It was regular people, Bayonne people,” Davis said.
Bringing the city together
Davis said he understands that nearly half the people who voted cast a ballot against him. But he said his administration will bring a conciliatory approach to the city, much as he said he did in his whole campaign, preaching to bring the city together.
“I think it will just be my actions, and the way I govern, that people will understand that it isn’t about one side or the other,” Davis said. “That every decision I make will be in the best interests of the city. And I think slowly, but surely, everyone will come together. At this point, I believe everyone just wants a better Bayonne.”