The group has been critical of Mayor Brian Stack and plans to challenge his candidates for all five seats on the commission.
Leading the group at their Wednesday morning press conference in front of the 1501 Palisade Ave. construction site was Frank Scarafile, the school superintendent of Little Ferry and former principal of Emerson High School.
"This building [1501 Palisade Ave.] symbolizes what's wrong in Union City," said Scarafile. "This is an insider deal controlled by Mayor Brian Stack and his minions."
The site at 1501 Palisade Ave. is currently at the center of a legal dispute, due to the inflated price the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation paid for the land. They acquired the site only after the landowners quickly built a four-family unit and a dental office there.
The SCC has charged that Stack and other city officials helped drive up the price on purpose. However, Stack has presented e-mails to the SCC from 2004 that actually warned the SCC about the construction. Stack has said that the SCC is just trying to avoid criticism.
Running with Scarafile are Ernestine "Tina" Yandolino, a former Union City commissioner from 1998 to 2002, Frank M. Alonzo, former deputy Republican Municipal chair in Union City, and residents Deirdre Vetter-Berry and Julio Fernandez.
"I am running with four very special and dedicated people, who are willing to invest the time and the effort to make Union City a better place," said Scarafile. "We will make all our decisions as a team."
Alonzo and Vetter-Berry are also the only two Republican candidates running in the election.
"We know we face a daunting task to try to beat an entrenched political machine, but we also know that there are a growing number of people in this city who are fed up with the policies and practices of the current administration," said Scarafile.
The issues in Younity's platform include calling for better recreation for children, controls on development, and solutions to the parking and traffic problems facing the city.
"More importantly, [residents] are fed up with a city that works only for the interests of the politicians, not the people," said Scarafile.
Two years ago, Younity asked for a referendum to create an elected school board in Union City, rather than an appointed one. The matter was voted on during the November 2004 election. The Union City residents opted to remain under the current appointed school board.
Scarafile claims that under this appointed board, the mayor has created scores of jobs in the school district for political allies at a cost of $10 million to taxpayers.
"The mayor is [taking] money from our schoolchildren to pay for jobs for his friends," said Scarafile. "With an elected school board answerable to the voters, our children will get a better education."
The Younity candidates have stated that they want to end the one-man control of Mayor Brian Stack.
"A truly independent commission - one free from control of the mayor - will allow the city to entertain more diverse solutions to problems," said Alonzo. "Right now most of the commissioners are puppets, and the mayor pulls their strings. Union City needs commissioners who are unafraid to express ideas about how to solve problems."
"Recreation for our children in the city is sorely lacking," said Fernandez, who has two sons. "Kids are doing nothing but hanging out on the street corners where they will only get into trouble. We will use resources to provide recreation for children."
Vetter-Berry said parking was a nightmare in most of Union City's neighborhoods.
"Parking problems are an extension of the mayor's irrational development policies," said Vetter-Berry. "People in this city spend half their lives moving their cars and trying to find a place to park."
In addition, the recent controversy over 1501 Palisade Ave. has served as an indication for Younity of how developments in the city are not being given the deserved attention.
"The city's haphazard development needs to be brought under control," said Yandolino. "The mayor gives out building permits and allows zoning changes without regard to the impact on residential neighborhoods. We need rational redevelopment plans, not based on political favoritism."
The zoning changes are actually voted on by the Zoning and Planning boards, but the mayor can have influence on them.
On the move
Younity's grassroots campaign will go door to door throughout Union City to garner support for their platform.
The group has also called out for a chance to debate the issues with the incumbent candidates.
"We will be the voice of the people, who right now have no voice in how our city is governed," said Scarafile. "I encourage everyone in this city who desires a better life for their family to join us on May 9 in fighting for a change in government."