Rumors of Fulop’s looking to run for higher office persist even though he won’t likely be able to do so until 2020.
The property revaluation that most impacted downtown and a portion of Jersey City Heights has left some bitter feelings among Fulop’s strongest supporters, many of whom voted for him last November and contributed to his winning reelection.
He won with 78 percent of the total vote. Political opponents and critics of Fulop believe the margin of victory would not have been nearly so wide had the results of the revaluation been released before the election, as was ordered by the state.
The revaluation apparently went slower than estimated, and the first results were not released until this month.
To be fair, Fulop was forced by the state to perform the revaluation. But some critics claim the impact would have been much less if he had not stopped a revaluation started in 2013 by his predecessor.
The problem for Fulop is that he really can’t run in the Democratic primary for House of Representatives this year unless he files by April 2.
Fulop is politically aligned with state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who is expected to become the chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) in June.
But this is too late to help Fulop if he decides to challenge Rep. Albio Sires in the primary. Even if Fulop runs in 2020, Stack’s influence might not help since an endorsement must be voted on by the entire county Democratic committee. If North Bergen and angry Jersey City committee members oppose Fulop, then he won’t get the endorsement.
Bayonne race heats up
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis’ redevelopment policies have come under attack by candidates running with his opponent Jason O’Donnell.
While Bayonne has given limited abatements in the past, the Davis administration has pushed ahead with a batch in an attempt to spur redevelopment of key areas – especially along the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line.
The key question in the campaign may involve voter perception of unfairness. Will older residents be forced to pay more traditional taxes as a result? Will Bayonne begin to see the kind of gentrification seen in Hoboken over the last several decades and most recently in Jersey City?
This election comes ahead of an expected revaluation in Bayonne. Horror stories from Jersey City’s reval may well play into O’Donnell’s campaign.
Most believe redevelopment in Bayonne is inevitable because of rising prices elsewhere in the county make housing seem more reasonable there.
With four candidates expected to run in the 3rd ward, and three in the 1st Ward, some anticipate runoff elections that could affect the balance of power on the City Council.
While Davis supporters are confident Davis can prevail, opponents believe they have found vulnerabilities that can be exploited to allow an O’Donnell upset in May.
North Hudson peaceful except for North Bergen
Reports of a recent luncheon meeting between Larry Wainstein and members of the Mocco family have raised speculation about strong opposition against incumbent Mayor Nicholas Sacco next year. Both Wainstein and the Moccos are considered political enemies of Sacco.
Sacco beat Wainstein in 2015, but by a margin less than many political observers predicted.
Sacco has been mayor since 1991, and some believe he may not seek reelection in 2019, paving the way for Freeholder Chairman Anthony Vainieri to run instead.
This year, Union City Mayor Stack and his board of commissioners will be running for reelection as an army of campaign workers go house to house seeking signatures for their nomination petitions.
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner is also running for reelection.
Both mayors are expected to run unopposed, testimony to the power of their political machines and fundraising to discourage opponents from running against them.
Can Secaucus Democrats revive after Prieto?
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli’s slate of candidates is running for election in November.
Secaucus has a strange election cycle. Originally, the town held elections every year, one year for mayor and half the City Council, the next year for the other half of the council.
That changed in 2000, thanks to the efforts of state Sen. Ray Lesniak. Secaucus elections were reconfigured so candidates ran every four years.
While Republican Tom Troyer said he would run in the 2nd Ward against incumbent Jim Clancy, it is uncertain if Democrats will mount a challenge this year.
Some Secaucus Democrats complain that they have been discouraged from challenging Gonnelli and his council by Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, who took over as chair of the party in 2009.
Prieto is strongly aligned with state Senator Sacco. While Gonnelli runs as an independent, he also has strong ties to Sacco.
Prieto’s stepping down as assemblyman to take a post as the head of the Sports and Exposition Authority gives Democrats a chance to reorganize.
Democrats had planned to challenge Prieto for leadership after the June primary anyway. But now, it appears they will have a chance to retake control of the party nearly a decade after then-Mayor Dennis Elwell was forced to resign as a result of the Bid Rig scandal.
Passing of a political giant
While Hudson County may not have heard much about the Orechio brothers, they played a huge role in the early development of the Meadowlands, and became a media force in portions of Essex County. They were also very influential in controlling some of the northern New Jersey water resources in the 1970s.
The last of the three Orechio brothers, Carmen Orechio, passed away, marking the end of a political era in New Jersey.
“I am grieving the passing of my very good friend Carmen Orechio. Carmen was a great politician but an even better human being,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell. “Carmen was so effective because he understood that people always come first. He won so many close races because the citizens of Essex County knew they could count on him. Carmen rose to the top of state politics through hard work and scrupulous honesty. He is a credit to the town of Nutley, to the state of New Jersey, and to his Italian heritage. I’ll remember Carmen most for his willingness to always help a friend, his sense of humor, and his unshakeable loyalty to his New York Yankees.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.