A total of 42 candidates are running for nine seats on the Jersey City council this May 12, including three council-at-large seats and six seats representing Wards A through F. Five candidates are running for mayor the same day.
There are nine candidates running in Wards A and B.
The candidates answered two questions – Which issue(s) will you address first, and why should the voters vote for you?
Ward A: From Bayonne-Jersey City border to the south and Carbon Place to the north.
Rolando R. Lavarro Jr.
Lavarro is the son of Filipino immigrants and lifetime resident of Jersey City.
Lavarro works at New Jersey City University. He has also worked as a volunteer for World Education Services and the Jersey City Communities that Care Coalition (JCCTCC). He has served as an aide to Councilwoman Mary Donnelly and Director of Constituent Services to Assemblyman Robert M. Gordon (currently Senator), and is running on Lou Manzo’s mayoral ticket.
“As Ward A Councilman, I will make it a priority to be active in our streets and in our communities from day one – reaching out to residents to help stem the wave of violence threatening our neighborhoods.”
“They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I urge people to join the Manzo Team and support Rolando R. Lavarro Jr. for City Council Ward A, so we can restore some sanity to Jersey City.”
Richardson grew up in Howell, N.J. and has lived in Jersey City since 1999.
He is a Community Organizer for the Service Employees International Union 1199. He is a graduate of New Jersey City University. Richardson also had experience in politics during the 2004 presidential election when he worked on community outreach and voter education and awareness efforts in Miami, Fla. He is running as an independent.
“As City Councilman, I will fight to bring our fair share of economic development and revitalization projects to Ward A. And with them come better jobs, safer streets, and more opportunities for our children, our working families and small businesses.”
“I’m an independent candidate and I will be held accountable. I will fight for the people on their behalf.”
Sottolano is a lifelong resident of Jersey City. He was educated in Jersey City at Saint Joseph’s Grammar School, William L. Dickinson High School, and Saint Peter’s College. Also, he attended Rutgers University, Center for Government Services in Newark.
He has been the Ward A City Councilman since 2005 and is running with Mayor Jerramiah Healy. He worked at Western Electric in Kearny and Progresso Foods in Jersey City, and worked for the city for 37 years, mostly in information technology, until he retired in September 2004.
“Public safety has always been, and will continue to remain, my principal concern. The addition of personnel to our police force is imperative for the eradication of violent crime.”
“First, I am a full time council person holding no other employment position that might interfere with my efforts. Second, my vast experience of government operations has enabled me to bring increased revenue into the city through areas of property development.”
Thompson is the director of the Hudson County Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise (OMWBE).
She was a member of the Jersey City Council in the 1980s, and a graduate of Rutgers University currently working toward her doctorate. She serves on the Jersey City Board of Education. She is running on mayoral candidate L. Harvey Smith’s team.
“Stabilizing taxes will also be one of my priorities. But whether it’s taxes or crime, the issue is one of people. The main issue is helping people find hope.”
“As a Ward A resident for 20 years and a homeowner for the last 11 years, I know the needs and aspirations of the people that I want to represent. I’m very aware of the issues that are most important to the community, and I know how to serve people. I proved this when I served on the City Council in the past.”
Ward B: Covers much of the city’s West Side.
Manzo (no relation to Lou Manzo) is a 27-year veteran of the Jersey City Fire Department, currently working as an arson investigator.
Born and raised in Jersey City, he is a graduate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Hudson Catholic High School, and Rutgers University – Newark. He is running as an independent.
“I will put Ward B on the map in terms of it getting its fair share so that it is equal or better than any ward. I don’t want people to look downtown and say ‘Oh, wow!’ and there are tall buildings, and they look at our side and see garbage transfer stations. Let’s stop doing the talking and let’s just start doing something.”
“There’s no one [who] has a better track record than myself. I have been a decorated firemen and an active member of the community. And I know what the needs of the community are.”
Catsandonis is a lifelong Jersey City resident who attended the local grade schools, Xavier High School in New York City, the University of Chicago, and the Cardozo School of Law.
He was an attorney for Allstate Insurance Company in New York for seven years and has been a divorce attorney for the past three years in partnership with his brother, John. He is running on mayoral candidate L. Harvey Smith’s team.
“The police issue, and I think we need to step up the patrolling in Ward B. We need to figure why there isn’t enough police on the streets. I want the citizens in Ward B to feel as safe as someone living in Paulus Hook.”
“I am the only candidate in the last four years who’s been holding neighborhood association meetings under the West Side Neighborhood Association. And I know what the issues are in my community.”
Williams was born in Bayonne but has resided the majority of his life in Jersey City.
He attended Public School 39, Dickinson High School, Jersey City State College and St. Peter’s College. Currently, he works for the Jersey City Board of Education, where he has been employed for 23 years. Williams served for 15 years as a commissioner and chairman for the Jersey City Housing Authority. He is running on Lou Manzo’s mayoral ticket.
“We need to focus on community policing, senior citizens, working with the schools for an extended after-school program. Also, a study on residential parking in Ward B.”
“The voters will be getting a full-time councilman who has lived in the area for a long time, and knows the needs of his constituents. I will bring back the once-thriving business district on West Side Avenue, which was once bakeries then meat markets but [is] now just closed-up storefronts.”
Salters has resided in Jersey City for over 16 years.
In the 1990s, Salters served Ward B as an aide to Councilman James McLaughlin Jr. Salters also headed the West District of the Neighborhood Improvement Division, and served as Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the Jersey City Municipal Port Authority. He is running on Dan Levin’s ticket.
“My first order of business will be the extensive assessment of the needs and desires of our community and bringing together the skills and ideas of our residents to find solutions for our ward, economically, environmentally, educationally, and, most importantly, public safety.”
“I can wholeheartedly assure the voters of Ward B that my knowledge of government and my ability to relate to the needs and concerns of people of all levels of society and that I will provide the leadership that has sorely been lacking in our ward for too long.”
Kenny is a graduate of Saint Mary’s High School in Jersey City and attended Jersey City State College (New Jersey City University).
Since August 2005, he has worked as an Office Operations Coordinator to the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He serves as the Committeeman for Ward B District 27 and also State Committeeman for many years. Prior to that, he was employed with the Jersey City Parking Authority. He was also the Chief of Staff to Freeholder William O’Dea for over eight years coordinating campaign activities. Kenny is running on Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s election slate.
“I will deal with issues of cleanliness and safety of Ward B, and making West Side Avenue a better place to live and visit.”
He added, “It’s because I have been involved in the community with various activities and answering the complaints of the constituents.”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.