Ahhh…democracy in action
The chess board that is the Jersey City municipal runoff election keeps changing, and went through several more changes last week.
Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ruled on May 28 that Jersey City activist Esther Wintner and former City Attorney Sean Connelly can be placed on the ballot for the June 11 runoff election, despite finishing well behind the front-runner candidates.
Wintner, a candidate for the Ward B City Council seat who finished in third place, two weeks ago petitioned the court to be included in the runoff after Gerald Meyers, who finished in second place, successfully petitioned the court to be excluded from the runoff. After Meyers officially dropped out of the race, Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal was the only remaining Ward B candidate left on the ballot.
Following the May 14 municipal election, only two candidates – Mayor-elect Steven Fulop and Ward E City Councilwoman-elect Candice Osborne – surpassed the required vote threshold of 50 percent plus one to claim victory on the first ballot. Runoff elections are required for all three City Council at-large seats and in wards A, B, C, D, and F.
By law, if no ward candidate gets 50 percent of the vote plus one, then the two candidates who received the most number of votes must compete in a runoff election. For at-large seats, if no one gets 50 percent plus one, then the top six vote getters compete in a runoff.
After the disappointing results for candidates allied with outgoing Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, however, three Healy-allied candidates, including Meyers, successfully petitioned the court to be excluded from the June 11 runoff.
Following Wintner’s lead, another candidate, City Council at-large candidate Sean Connelly, petitioned the court on behalf of all the candidates who did not finish in first or second place. Connelly, who worked as the city attorney under former Mayor Brett Schundler, made the argument that voters should have as many candidate options as legally possible. Judge Bariso agreed and thus added Wintner to the Ward B ballot and Connelly to the at-large race.
After former Ward F candidate Jermaine Robinson successfully petitioned to be removed from the ballot, Judge Bariso offered his ballot position to the other Ward F candidates, including Chantal Snow and Minister Deborah King. No one wanted to be the second candidate in the Ward F race. This means that current City Councilwoman Diane Coleman will be the only Ward F candidate in the runoff.
“In all my years in city government, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said City Clerk Robert Byrne.
Healy names acting police chief
Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy announced Thursday that he is appointing East District Commander Captain Joseph Connors as acting chief of the Jersey City Police Department to fill out the remainder of the term of the current administration.
Current JCPD Chief Thomas Comey will retire effective June 1, when Connors will assume the role of acting chief of the department.
The new administration of Mayor-elect Steven Fulop will be sworn in on July 1.
“Captain Connors has an impeccable record of police service and his strong ties with the community will serve him well in his new capacity as Acting Chief,” Healy said in the press statement. “Joe Connors is a respected leader within the Police Department, and I have full confidence in him.”
Connors, who is married with one son, has spent the last three years as commander of the East District precinct, which includes all of downtown and the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood. The East District is the city’s busiest event venue, with 34 major events held annually, including parades, concerts, festivals, and marathons.
According to Healy’s office, Captain Connors has built strong relationships with the New York Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, NJ Tranit Police, and the downtown business community.
“It’s my intention to serve the residents and visitors of this city consistent with the manner in which I and the officers in the East Precinct did, and that is being fair, honest, responsive, and dedicated to the task at hand with the utmost professionalism,” said Connors, a 32-year veteran of the department. “I am looking forward to facilitating the transition for the department between the current and incoming administrations so the Police Department does not miss a beat.”
Earlier in his career, Connors served as commander of the Juvenile Bureau, Internal Affairs, and executive officer of the South District precinct. He plans to continue his open-door policy that he has maintained in the East District precinct, where he held regularly scheduled monthly meetings with both community groups and the business community representatives to address their concerns.
“I’m confident that the city security and management of its law enforcement personnel are in extremely capable hands with Captain Connors,” said retiring Chief Comey.
STAGES presents ‘Guys and Dolls Jr.’
On Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, Art House Productions’ STAGES program will perform “Guys and Dolls Jr.” at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre at 54 Journal Square. Performances will take place on Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 2 at 2pm. Tickets are $15 for regular admission at the door. STAGES is a 12-week afterschool program that provides young people with professional training in musical theater. During the program, youth ages 4 to 12 focus on their acting, singing, movement, and theater production skills.
Two-day adoption event June 1 – 2 at Liberty Humane Society
The Liberty Humane Society, along with 50 other shelter and rescue groups throughout the tri-state area, is joining two pet adoption days sponsored by the Maddie’s Fund. The adoption event will take place on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.
The goal of the event is to give hard-to-adopt dogs and cats a chance to be placed in loving homes and to increase awareness about adopting shelter animals. During the two days, all approved adoptive families will be able to take home any adoptable dog or cat from Liberty Humane Society for absolutely no fee. In return for every adoption, the Maddie’s Fund will provide a grant of $500 to $2,000 to Liberty Humane Society.
Liberty Humane Society has roughly 50 puppies and dogs and 100 kittens and cats just waiting to find their forever homes. Adoption counselors will be on-hand throughout the weekend to provide consultation to adopters hoping to find the perfect match. Potential adopters should come to the shelter with every person who lives in their household to ensure that everyone is in agreement with the newest family member. Those who are planning to add a second or third pet to the family should bring the resident dog(s) or cat(s) down as well so that they can have a meet and greet at the shelter before going home.
Visit Liberty Humane Society’s adoption page at www.libertyhumane.org/adopt.php for a list of some of the dogs and cats that will be available for this promotion. Please note that because Liberty Humane is an open-admission shelter and the animal population changes daily so not every adoptable dog and cat will be listed on the website.
The shelter is located at 235 Jersey City Blvd. and will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for this special event.
Flea market at St. John’s Lutheran is June 8
On Saturday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church will host a flea market at Summit Avenue and North Street. The market will feature many vendors who will be selling crafts, baked goods, refreshments, and other items. Vending spaces are still available for rent. To rent a vending spot, call (201) 798-0540.
Second Annual Hudson River Walk scheduled Saturday
The Embankment Preservation Coalition, Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, and other organizations are gearing up for the second annual Hudson River Loop Walk, scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 8. The scenic 28-mile free walk covers both the New Jersey and New York sides of the Hudson River. To sign up to participate, visit www.HudsonLoop30.org.
Library Summer Reading Program now accepting registrations
With the official start to summer just a couple weeks away, parents and children alike will be planning their summer activities, thinking about what’s available for children.
Families may want to consider the Summer Reading Program offered by the Jersey City Free Public Library. The program offers a structured yet fun environment to sustain students’ reading abilities over the summer break.
The library system is now accepting registrations for the Summer Reading Program at all branch libraries and through the Bookmobile. The program officially gets underway on Monday, June 24 and ends on Friday, Aug. 16. The program will feature games, field trips, movies, live performances, and, of course, greats books to read.
Students who read the greatest number of books will have an opportunity to participate in extra fun events.
Student art show coming up at the Distillery Gallery & Artspace
“Socially Inadequate – An Art Show” made its debut last week at the Distillery Gallery & Artspace, 7 Hutton St., in The Heights. The group art show features the work of Kelsey Reilly, Sumeet Mehesh, and Dilenia Rodriguez through June 13. The gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays, from 6 to 8 p.m.
O’Dea talks Fulop transition; new administration identifies 11 key target areas
Mayor-elect Steven Fulop has asked his transition team to focus on several key priority areas prior to his July 1 swearing in.
The transition team, which will be co-chaired by Hudson County Freeholder William O’Dea and State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, will include about 40 members, according to O’Dea.
According to a five-page document Fulop drafted days after his election, the mayor-elect plans to create 11 transition subcommittees. “I am asking these committees, under the direction of co-chairs [O’Dea and Cunningham], to conduct an overall assessment of existing [city] functions and to make recommendations for change that will move our city forward,” Fulop states in a transition document that will be shared with committee members.
The 11 focus areas that the transition team subcommittees will focus on include: budget and financial operations; public safety; city departments; the city’s autonomous agencies; executive recruitment; workforce development, training, and ex-offender re-entry; real estate/redevelopment; education and recreation; cultural development and tourism; and information and technology initiatives. An 11th subcommittee will conduct a review of all pending and prospective lawsuits involving the city.
“The idea is to create 11 sub-groups that are going to work within the 11 areas,” said O’Dea. “My thought is, I’ll spend time in areas where I have a level of expertise. Then, looking to the big picture, Sen. Cunningham and I will help make sure the other sub-groups are doing what they’re supposed to do and give them tasks and timelines. You’re not going to get all of this done in six weeks, to be realistic. If you really want to do a good transition, I think it’s more practical to have a transition team in place for three, four, five, even six months after you’re in so you can come up with strong plans that you can implement over time.”
Ten people have been selected to head up the 11 sub-committees.
Henry Amoroso will chair the Budget and Financial Operations Review committee. Larry Mone will chair the Public Safety Operational Review committee. Eric Shuffler will chair Departmental Operations Review committee. School Board Trustee Sangeeta Ranade will head the Executive Recruitment subcommittee. Henry Plotkin will chair Workforce Development, Training, and Reentry committee. Attorney Jeremy Farrell will head the Real Estate/ Redevelopment/Business Climate-Outreach committee, in addition to the legal review committee. John Thieroff, who served as Fulop’s campaign director, will head up the Autonomous Authorities subcommittee. Elizabeth Cain will chair the Cultural Development and Tourism subcommittee. Superintendent of Schools Marcia Lyles will chair the Education and Recreation subcommittee. Newly-elected Ward E City Councilwoman Candice Osborne will chair the Information and Technology Initiatives subcommittee.
Terry: ‘I’m running. For mayor. 2017.’
Campaign-weary Jersey City residents may be loathe to think about the 2017 municipal election. After all, the current mayor hasn’t left office. The mayor-elect hasn’t been sworn in. And there’s a City Council, a governor, state legislature, U.S. senators, and a president still to be elected between now and then.
But for Steve Fulop-supporter-turned-critic Demetrius Terry, apparently there is no time like the present. A frequent letter-writer and former president of the Hudson County Teenage Republicans, Terry last week declared himself a mayoral candidate in the 2017 election. He announced his plans in a letter to local media outlets.
Stating that “leadership is a part of my life” and noting his “passion for public service,” Terry added, “Jersey City is a city I love and believe I have what it takes to lead it in the right direction. For the remainder of the year, I will be doing intense planning.”
Let the race begin!