More than 500 people attended the first event of the election season for the mayor, held at The Chandelier Restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
At the affair, Smith announced his council slate, which had no changes.
Current council members Debra Czerwienski, Agnes Gillespie, Raymond Greaves, Joseph Hurley, and Terrence Ruane will all once again run on the Smith ticket.
The mayoralty and five council seats (one each in the city’s three wards and two at-large seats) will be contested in the May 13 nonpartisan election.
The mayor is seeking his second full term. He was initially voted into office in a special election in 2008.
The kickoff was attended by local, area, and state political figures, including former Gov. Richard Codey; Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell; County Freeholders William O’Dea, Anthony Romano, and Doreen DiDomenico; and former Jersey City mayor, Jerramiah Healy.
The event began on a somber note with a moment of silence for Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough, who had died earlier in the day in his office from a massive heart attack.
Local businessman Mickey McCabe was the emcee for the night’s activities. A high point of the evening was the humor of former Gov. Codey, who introduced Smith.
The faithful were there in droves to back Smith’s “Moving Bayonne Forward” campaign.
“I know him 10 years,” said Linda Carroll of Kennedy Boulevard. “We’re here to support him. We know him.”
“He’s Bayonne bred, he’s doing a good job, and he deserves four more years,” said Susan Percella of 5th Street.
Ruane, Smith’s council president, had words of praise for his boss.
“When Mark was first elected, Bayonne, just like many others in the county, was facing recession,” he said. “It was not a good time to enter the profession. … “Today, I am proud to say he’s put this city in the right direction.”
Czerwienski talked about the mayor’s consolidating nine city departments into four, in a cost-saving measure, pointing out that this was “done through attrition and without layoffs.”
She also talked about how Smith’s ticket reflected the people of Bayonne.
“I’m a mother and a wife and a resident of a city I love,” she said, “and I’m just like you.”
The mayor speaks
Smith said the rally turnout confirmed that the public is behind his administration’s efforts.
“This demonstration is an example that the things we are trying to do are right,” he said.
Upon taking office five years ago, Smith said he and his team “embarked on a journey.”
“The thing that most concerned me was the (people’s) sense that Bayonne’s best days were behind us,” he said.
The mayor said he worked hard to turn the city, and that feeling, around.
“We’ve made some tough, hard decisions and we’ve come a long way,” Smith said.
Two candidates, Police Capt. James Davis and local bowling-alley manager Anthony Zanowic, are running against Smith to be the city’s chief executive.
During the evening, some speakers made reference to Smith’s not leaving the city and returning, an apparent allusion to Davis, who had moved out of town for years and now has moved back.
Smith was scheduled this week to open his campaign headquarters on Broadway between 25th and 26th streets.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.