They all have in common the belief that their specific skills are the ones needed to lead the Second Ward for the next four years.
The lifelong resident of the Second Ward said he’s running for three main reasons: rejuvenating the business district, keeping the city affordable for senior citizens and families by stabilizing taxes, and adding more facilities for youth.
“It saddens me to see all the empty stores on Broadway,” Gullace said. “I’d like to bring new life to the struggling Broadway shopping district.”
And as a small business owner himself—he owns both a construction company and a property management firm—Gullace believes he has the acumen to help local businesses expand.
Another problem he’d like to tackle: bringing tax increases to a halt.
“I’d look at the budget, see where we can cut back on things, and take it from there,” he said.
Gullace doesn’t think his lack of political experience would hinder him.
“I’d bring fresh new ideas to the table,” Gullace said. “I’m not a career politician.”
In talking to Second Ward residents, he said a common request is for more youth programs.
“We do not have a true soccer field in Bayonne,” Gullace said. “I’d like to see a soccer field and community center for kids to go to, instead of them hanging out on street corners.”
Gullace graduated from St. Henry’s Grammar School, Bayonne High School, and Hudson County Community College. He has worked for more than 30 years at St. Henry’s.
He has also been active in the community, serving as the treasurer of the Parent Teachers Association for Mount Carmel School and as a volunteer for the Bayonne Fire Canteen.
Why should Second Ward residents cast their ballot for him on May 13?
“I would like them to vote for me because I’m a great reflection of the Second Ward,” Gullace said. “I’m a hardworking resident who only wants the best for my community.”
Joseph Hurley is currently a Second ward councilman. The son of a firefighter and a nurse, he believes he was meant to help others and wants to continue what he said has been a lifelong calling.
“I’ve served the community. I’ve coached young children,” he said. “I’ve been involved with the special needs community, hosting a picnic for them each year.”
Serving the Bayonne community meant becoming a firefighter and progressing up the ranks to deputy chief before retiring and then serving as an elected representative.
“I want to continue helping the people of the Second Ward, making their livers better every day,” Hurley said.
Part of that commitment is to complete projects he’s worked on in his first few years at city hall.
“A lot of things, accomplishments, are coming to fruition,” he said. “I’d like to see a lot of the things we started get finished.”
Hurley said that when he took office Bayonne was mired in the recession and that it was difficult to attract developers to visit and invest in the city. But he says all that has changed, and that Bayonne is now on the rise again.
“There’s an uptick in interest in the community,” he said. “Developers are calling every day. They want to be part of the redevelopment of the Peninsula.”
The reshaping of the former Military Ocean Terminal will be an historic one, he said, and he wants to be a part of it.
Hurley attended St. Andrew’s Grammar School, Marist High School, and St. Peter’s University. He has been inducted into Marist’s Hall of Fame for “distinguished service to the community.”
Among Hurley’s goals during a next term in office would be to continue to reduce city debt, stabilize taxes, and create more jobs in Bayonne.
Ask Chelsea Jeskie the reasons she should be the Second Ward councilwoman, and she will give three reasons: she’s a woman, she’s young, and being half Spanish she has a natural connection to the city’s Latino community.
She thinks all three are vitally important. But she especially expands on the latter two.
Being young would not hurt her in representing her ward if elected, because with youth brings a freshness to the post that her two opponents would not possess.
“This is the first time a woman my age is running. I bring a unique perspective to the [Zanowic for Mayor] team, and I can bring a unique perspective to city hall,” Jeskie said. “I don’t have a lot of experience. But sometimes, I think, if you have too much experience you are likely to vote for things that are not the best [for the city]. I’m more inclined to speak to the people about what the issues are, rather than to assume what they are.”
Her ethnicity is also a plus, she said.
“Being half Spanish, I’m really connected with the Spanish community,” she said. “Most candidates don’t speak Spanish. I feel I can bridge the gap between the Spanish community and city hall.”
Jeskie is a junior at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and feels her college coursework in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic, as well as political science, can only help her when it comes to another of the city’s burgeoning populations.
“I feel if I can become fluent in that then I can definitely connect with them,” she said.
Jeskie has served as an intern in New Jersey’s 31st Legislative District, working in constituent and office services. She is currently an intern for the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.