Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is not one of them, despite more than a year of speculation that he might run. District 8 covers a majority of Hudson County from Guttenberg to portions of Bayonne.
New Jersey has 12 House seats, seven of which are held by Democrats and five by Republicans. In an election in which Democrats hope to take back control both houses of Congress, Sires is being challenged by Republican John Muniz.
But Sires, a former mayor of West New York and former state Assembly speaker, is also being challenged by Libertarian Party Dan Delaney and independent Mahmoud Mahmoud (of the New Way Forward party.)
Delaney ran against Sires in 2016. Mahmoud, a registered Democrat, is a newcomer.
A resident of Guttenberg, Mahmoud has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from William Paterson University and his master’s degree in public policy and public service from Arkansas University.
He worked as the regional director of services to the armed forces for the American Red Cross from 2017 to 2018. He also worked at New Jersey Together from 2016 to 2017, as the director of Church World Service for New Jersey from 2015 to 2016, and at the United Nations from 2011 to 2014.
So why is Mahmoud running to unseat Sires?
In a recent interview, he said he wants to bring the immigrant experience to the House of Representatives, especially when it comes to working low wage jobs. He worked 16 such jobs getting through school, including one at McDonald’s.
“I bring firsthand knowledge of what it is like to work for minimum wage,” he said.
No, he does not have experience in elected public office, except in college where he was a member of student government. But he has delved into study of policy, such as those espoused by President Bill Clinton.
Mahmoud is also a proponent of universal healthcare, saying that if other countries can do it, so can the United States. Another issue – very prevalent in Hudson County – is the lack of affordable housing.
“We spent trillions of dollars to help bail out banks, but we can’t find support for our own people,” he said. “The middle class is almost gone, and Democrats don’t seem to be doing anything about it.”
With Sires getting the official Democratic line on the ballot, and support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Mahmoud knows he has a steep uphill battle ahead of him.
“You can get Mickey Mouse elected in Hudson County if he has the line,” he said.
While Mahmoud espouses many of the same progressive issues as Sires, he said he doesn’t believe Sires has done enough to promote issues that are the core of the Democratic Party, something others in Hudson County might disagree with him about.
Mahmoud does not have a lot of money to buy ads, so he must get his message out in other ways, public appearances and social media.
“I’ve started knocking on doors,” he said, planning to visit as many homes as he can right up to November, in a district that includes most of Hudson County as well as portions of Essex and other counties.
Bayonne school board election will be wild
Although not all the candidates the rumors predicted would be running in the November school board election in Bayonne are actually running, most of the rumors turned out to be true.
A total of 20 candidates are running for a total of four seats, which means voters will be forced to make some serious decisions.
Most of the candidates are running for the three three-year term seats.
Incumbents Joseph Broderick, Ava Finnerty and Charles Ryan are seeking re-election on a ticket. Candidates for the first time are allowed to bracket themselves on the ballot.
Jodi Casais, Jan Patrick Egan and Alicia Losonczy are also running on a slate of their own. Lauren Alonso, Evelyn Sabol Benyo, and Charles Shepard are running on a third ticket.
Lauren is married to board member Michael Alonso, a registered Republican, and this may explain the ticket’s slogan, “Make Bayonne Great.”
John Cupo, who has run for the board before as well as for city council, is running as an independent, as are Edith Ferrell, Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez, Leo Smith Jr., Sharma Montgomery and Mary Jane Desmond.
Rumor had suggested that Desmond (who stepped down as a board member earlier this year) and Smith (who retired as school business administrator) would be running on a slate that included former Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGheen.
Smith and Desmond have the potential to unseat one or more incumbents.
Oddly enough, five candidates are seeking to fill the seat Desmond vacated, the one year left on her original three-year term. This includes incumbent Mikel Lawandy, who was appointed to replace Desmond on the board.
Also running are Gina Irizarry, Hector Gonzalez Jr., Michael Mulcahy and David Solari.
Izizarry has finished just out of the winner circle in past elections and is expected to do well. Mulhahy has strong ties to former Bayonne Mark Smith. Gonzalez, a special education teacher in Jersey City, has close ties to a number of Jersey City and county officials. Solari, who ran for board in 2015, has been a sharp critic of school trustee Alonso, promising a lot of fireworks if he is elected.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.