JERSEY CITY - Jersey City Mayor and longtime activist Dan Levin made it official on Wednesday afternoon.
In a joint statement and video released to the local media, the two officially confirmed that Levin will join the Healy slate for the upcoming 2013 election.
"Jersey City has come a long way and is moving in the right direction. I'm looking forward to working with Mayor Healy," Levin said in the joint statement released this afternoon. "Together, we'll roll up our sleeves, bringing about green and sustainable ways to make our city an even better place for all who live here. We'll keep the progress going by fighting for stable taxes, sensible spending and sound solutions. Let us come together as one Jersey City."
Levin - a popular downtown activist who has advanced pay to play legislation, fiscal responsibility in government, and transparency among public officials - has in the past been at odds with Healy and his administration. Most recently, Levin was publicly critical of Healy's 2011 municipal budget, which Levin said included a hidden tax increase.
Levin has twice run independently for public office, including a run for mayor in 2009 against Healy. Last year Levin ran for a city council at-large seat during a special election. He lost both races.
Having made two attempts to run for office on his own, Levin seemed determined this year to run on a viable major slate. According to sources within the Healy campaign, the two men have met on several occasions and have grown to have a mutual respect for one another. In recent months, as Levin was gearing up for a run for the Ward E council seat, rumors began to circulate that he was open to running on Healy's ticket.
"First-hand, I've seen Mayor Healy handle adversity and lead us through rough financial times that wrecked havoc on other cities," said Levin. "It'sn o secret that, over the years, I've disagreed with Mayor Healy on a few things. But, I've always been impressed with how he never personally attacks his critics and is always open to discussion. Every day, Mayor Healy is working hard to make life better for all who call Jersey City home, who work here, and who are raising their families here. That's why Mayor Healy has won so many people over. That's why he won me over. And that is why I am proud to join the Healy Team."
Speaking of his new running mate, Healy said, "Dan Levin knows real leadership means working towards solutions, not merely pointing out problems. That's what genuine reform and good government is truly all about," said Mayor Healy. "Dan's run a small business, so he understands the struggles of his neighbors. Like me - and like my own children are doing today - Dan's raising his family here in Jersey City. Dan Levin will be a terrific voice for downtown families and the residents of Ward E."
Steven Fulop, who is running for mayor against Healy next year, currently holds the Ward E City Council seat.
The addition of Levin to the Healy slate is something of a coup for the mayor. Through Levin he could attract votes from downtown residents who are loyal to Fulop, since Fulop and Levin draw from the same base of support and appeal to similar demographics. This could split some of Fulop's votes in Ward E.
But the alliance is not without some risk. In online forums some Fulop supporters have already been critical of Levin for even considering a run with Healy, and his inclusion on the slate could hurt his image among some downtown voters.
At present, the only other declared Ward E candidate is political newcomer Candace Osborne, who is running on Fulop's slate.
In his own statement Fulop blasted Levin's decision to run with Healy.
"I wonder how Dan Levin can remain true to his principles when he is running on a ticket with a politician who he has vocally criticized in the recent past," Fulop stated. "How can he eviscerate Jersey City machine politicians one day, then jump in bed with them the next? What's changed is that a perennial candidate has traded in his values for the sake of political expediency. I'm confident the voters in Ward E will see right through this and elect Candice Osborne, the candidate who truly deserves this seat."
This is a developing story. For more, please see the October 14 edition of the Jersey City Reporter. - E. Assata Wright