Do you want to manage a city of 240,000 residents? Or be a councilperson for one of the city's six wards?
If you become mayor, you can earn a yearly salary from $92,000, which is what current Mayor Jerramiah Healy is estimated to earn on a pro rated basis due to his limited term in office, to $97,883, which the late Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham earned before passing away in May 2004.
There are six ward council seats (each serving a specific region of the city) and three at-large seats, with a $24,500 salary for the City Council president, and $22,500 for the eight members of the council.
The terms for all positions are four years and start on July 1.
As of the end of last week, five candidates for City Council had officially filed petitions with the City Clerk's office. Those petitions have been certified by the City Clerk, making the candidates eligible to run for office.The process
Anyone interested in running makes an appointment with the City Clerk to discuss the requirements to register for candidacy.
After the discussion, the prospective candidate is given petitions, or formal documents that are signed by registered voters in a specific ward for a City Council ward seat, or across the city to nominate a mayor or a City Council person-at-large.
Candidates for mayor and City Council need to submit at least 1,197 signatures, and City Council candidates for individual wards need to submit 175 to 225 signatures, depending on the population of the ward.
They need 1 percent of the 119,723 registered voters in the November 2004 Special Municipal Election. Petitions for City Council seats are based on 1 percent of registered voters in the specific ward.
Ward A requires 225 signatures; Ward B, 178; Ward C, 175; Ward D, 175; Ward E, 224; and Ward F, 220.
The City Clerk gives each potential candidate a packet that contains information on the guidelines that should be followed, such as filing petitions by the deadline date of March 17, as well as forms that have to be filled out affirming their eligibility as a candidate. Candidates must live in Jersey City for at least a year before they can run.
The packet also contains a list of all the streets in Jersey City, with the information on which wards they are located in, the individual district and the amount of registered voters on that street.
Registered voters can only sign one City Council candidate's petition in a respective ward, but they can also sign a petition for a mayoral candidate and three council candidates at large.
In the past, some signatures have been thrown out because they are not from registered voters or are on more than one petition. Who is in the running?
According to the City Clerk's office, as this article was going to press, the certified council candidates were: Thomas Lambert in Ward C, Greg Racelis and Paul Katsadonis in Ward B, Steven Fulop in Ward E, and Current Ward F City Councilperson Viola Richardson running for re-election.
However, Richardson finds herself in an interesting situation as she is currently running as an independent as she did not receive the endorsement from Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who instead gave his endorsement to Rev. Ron-Calvin Clark for the Ward F seat and Willie Flood for a City Council at-Large seat (see sidebar).
And a number of candidates have announced that they are running for office, either as contenders or as incumbents, but have not filed yet.
The candidates who will run on the same election ticket as Healy have made their announcements. Besides Flood and Clark, Peter Brennan and Mariano Vega are running for at-large seats. E. Junior Maldonado and William Gaughan are running for Ward E and Ward D respectively.
Mayor Healy announced at a press conference Friday afternoon his endorsement of Michael Sottolano to fill the Ward A City Council seat and Mary Spinello to fill the Ward B City Council seat on his ticket for the May 10 election.
Sottolano is a lifelong Jersey City resident and a resident of Ward A for 39 years who served for over 30 years as the city's assistant director of information technology, until his retirement in September 2004.
Spinello is the former director of marketing services & community-based employment at the Occupational Center of Hudson County and the former deputy division chief of Housing and Community Development of Hudson County.
Also, Melissa Holloway announced in January to the press that she would run for mayor and has picked up petitions.
Holloway said last week that she will be filing sometime in early March. Sidebar Who will represent Ward F?
When Mayor Jerramiah Healy announced his endorsement of Willie Flood and Rev. Ron-Calvin Clark for the City Council on Jan. 12, it prompted criticism from a number of people in Jersey City's African-American community, a large majority of whom reside in the city's Ward F.
Some believed that Healy should have endorsed Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson as the candidate for Ward F to run on his slate for the May 10 election.
Richardson commented that initially she had been approached by Healy to run on his ticket. After some negotiations between the two, Healy changed his mind and went forward with his endorsement of Flood and Clark because he was under the impression that Richardson would not be able to work well with Bobby Jackson and Joseph Cardwell, longtime political powerbrokers and consultants to Flood and Clark.
"When I asked him why he made the decision, he said that he was given the impression that I didn't get along with [county power brokers] Bobby Jackson and Joseph Cardwell," said Richardson. "I told him that I can get along with anyone, and then asked him who's making the decisions in this city."
Richardson announced that she would run for re-election in Ward F at a Feb. 16 press conference set up by the Jersey City NAACP at St. Michael's Methodist Church on Virginia Avenue.
Representatives of 12 churches in the city, the head of the Jersey City NAACP Kabili Tayari, and members of Richardson's campaign team came in support of her.
Rev. Clifford Brower of St. Michael's Methodist Church said that African-Americans living in Ward F should unite in support of Richardson. "I say it's time out for games," he said.
Tayari emphasized that the NAACP could not endorse any political candidate, but that did not stop him from condemning the decision made to not endorse Richardson.
"[Neither] the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party will pick and choose who will
represent us, who will speak for us," Tayari said. Frances Thompson, a former City Council person from 1985 to 1989, founded an African-American Coalition in response to an article in the local daily that reported on Healy deciding to endorse Flood and Clark because he made a deal with Jackson and Cardwell.
"We need to create a leader, not have a leader chosen for us," said Thompson. Thompson recalled that the African-American Coalition previously existed in the early 1980s, with late Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham as one of the founding members.
"I remember being part of the original coalition and learning everything I know about politics from Addison Maclean," she said. "That kind of training is what is needed for our community."
Thompson said eventually the coalition will meet with various individuals who reside in Ward F to determine who to endorse as a candidate.
The coalition also met with Healy on Feb. 17, and Thompson said she hopes from that meeting, Healy will "reconsider and renegotiate" whom to endorse as a Ward F candidate. - RK