Ward B, located on Jersey City’s west side, starts on Culver Avenue and ends on Van Keuren Avenue. It is also the focus of a Nov. 2 special election to fill the remaining term of the ward council seat. Currently, David Donnelly is the Ward B Councilman, appointed to the position last October after former councilman Phil Kenny stepped down following his guilty plea in federal court for accepting bribes from government informant Solomon Dwek.
Donnelly now faces competition from five other Ward B residents seeking the seat: Isaiah Gadsden, Ray Skop, Earlin Thomas, Diane Verlingo, and Esther Wintner.
The person who wins next month will serve until June 30, 2013, although they can choose to run in the May 2013 municipal election for a full four-year term.
Ward B has been called “the forgotten ward.”
The candidates (with the exception of Isaiah Gadsden) weighed in on what issues they will tackle if elected to complete the two-plus-year Ward B term.
David Donnelly Donnelly, 40, before he was appointed Ward B councilman, worked on Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s Task Force, and has over 20 years experience in municipal government. He currently works for the United Way of Hudson County.
In his time on the council, Donnelly has succeeded in getting new security cameras installed on West Side Avenue and several streets in his ward paved. He is also working on traffic reduction issues and making Route 440 safer for pedestrians.
“Nobody will work harder than me for the constituents of Ward B, nobody will work harder,” Donnelly said.
Isaiah Gadsden Gadsden, 33, could not be reached for an interview after several attempts. His run for the Ward B seat is not his first attempt at political office. He was a candidate in the November 2004 special mayoral election when Jerramiah Healy was elected mayor for the first time.
Skop, 32, is currently a captain in the Jersey City Parking Authority and a licensed real estate agent with Weichert Realty in Jersey City.
Skop, a city native, says his run for office comes out of the belief that he is the “one voice who would speak up for everyone in Ward B.”
“I am from the community, and know how it feels to see Ward B neglected,” Skop said.
If elected, he would tackle what he sees as key issues in his ward, including taxes and crime and lack of community policing.
Thomas, 50, is the pastor of the Shield of Faith Ministries on Duncan Avenue in Jersey City, and also works for Hudson County government. He has lived in the ward for over 10 years.
Thomas is running for office to continue the outreach programs his church has organized in the community, such as a recent job fair in Lincoln Park’s Hank Gallo Center.
He said if he gets into office, he will work to initiate more recreation programs in his ward to cut down on kids hanging out on the streets and crime.
Diane Verlingo Verlingo, 50, is a lifelong Ward B resident and a Jersey City public school teacher.
She says she is running because she wants to help “make things better” in her ward
by concentrating, if elected, on revitalizing West Side Avenue – the main business thoroughfare in Ward B – by working to get more state funding for street cleaning and improvement of storefront facades.
“I am at a place in my life where I can be a watchdog,” Verlingo said.
Wintner, 50, lives with her family in Ward B and works in New York in the financial industry.
Wintner is a familiar name, known for her public railing at city officials at council meetings over rising taxes.
She is running in the special election because she feels her ward needs a strong voice to “bring” resources to the community. If elected, she wants to address rising property taxes as well as crime and the cleanliness of streets.
“I hold no ties; my only allegiance is to the people that vote me in to do the job,” Wintner said.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.