Every election leaves behind reminders.
There are, of course, those elected officials serving in office. More innocuously, signs, stickers and other visual aids of past campaigns tend to become detritus blending into a city’s landscape on lampposts, walls and other surfaces.
“Healy 2009” yellow mayoral election signs are a great example. But traveling around Jersey City one can discover many remnants of political campaigns of yesteryear.
Here are a few the Jersey City Reporter came across while canvassing the city:
Guarini for Congress, 1982
Frank Guarini, who will be 85 years old this coming Thursday, is a Jersey City native who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from the now-defunct 14th Congressional District from 1979 to 1993, when he retired from office.
On Hopkins Avenue in the Jersey City Heights, there is a faded, sign-size sticker adhered to a silver sign on a gate closing off an empty lot that reads: GUARINI: REELECT – U.S. CONGRESS. At the bottom of the sticker, there’s the fine print: PAID FOR BY GUARINI FOR CONGRESS 1982.
That year, Guarini was running for his third term in the House, having won the Democratic primary unchallenged, and was to have faced in November the Republican challenger Charles Kreiger, who had been former interim mayor of Jersey City for a few months in 1971.
However, that matchup never came to fruition after Kreiger passed away that June, only days after he won the Republican primary. Taking Kreiger’s place was Charles Catrillo, who had served as a state assemblyman and had held other political posts.
Guarini ended up running that November against Catrillo and four other opponents and winning in a landslide. Guarini is a lawyer in private practice in Jersey City.
Haney, Democrat, Lever C-25, 1992
When Frank Guarini announced his retirement from Congress officially in 1992, it opened the door for a new congressman to take his place. It also brought about the creation of a new congressional district, with Guarini’s old 14th becoming the new 13th district, which would be represented by Guarini’s replacement.
A green and white sticker still plastered on a lamppost on Mercer Street in Downtown Jersey City, showing the ravages of time, advertises: HANEY, DEMOCRAT, LEVER C-25.
The ‘Haney’ is Robert P. Haney Jr., a Harvard-educated lawyer with Jersey City roots who was seeking Guarini’s seat.
Every election leaves behind reminders.
Menendez won Guarini’s seat in November 1992 by a more than 2 to 1 margin over his Republican opponent, and started his ascension to his current post as U.S. senator.
Haney is currently a partner in the New York City law firm Covington and Burling, LLC.
Cunningham for Mayor - 3A, 2001
In 2001, Glenn Cunningham was a Jersey City kid who had done well: U.S. Marine, Jersey City police officer, Hudson County freeholder, two-term city council member and U.S. Marshal.
The one noticeable item not on his resume was mayor.
But Cunningham was about to change that when he ran in the 2001 mayoral election in a six-person field. A memento from that episode in Jersey City political history is a banner which still hangs off the exposed brick wall of a building located off of Grand Street in the city’s Bergen-Lafayette section.
The banner reads CUNNINGHAM FOR MAYOR - 3A with VIOLA RICHARDSON WARD F inscribed underneath. This turned out to be a prescient message. Cunningham prevailed over Council President (now Hudson County Executive) Thomas DeGise in the May election that went to a June runoff, which he also won, becoming the city’s first African-American mayor.
Cunningham served as mayor as well as state senator until his untimely death in May 2004.
Richardson won her ward seat, and is now serving a third term as Ward F councilwoman.
Vote Buonocore for Jersey City Mayor, 2004
Former Jersey City Police Chief Ron Buonocore decided to run for mayor in the 2004 special election to fill the remainder of the late Glenn Cunningham’s term.
But Buonocore’s hopes for the city’s top office ended before it actually got started when he was knocked out of the race because he did not live in Jersey City for a year before filing his candidacy.
The sign announcing his mayoral intentions has lasted much longer. It sits perched on the deteriorating remains of a gas station on Kennedy Boulevard in the city’s Journal Square section.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.