At a campaign kickoff in Greenville, former Governor James McGreevey said his first priority as mayor would be to address property taxes.
“The first and most important challenge is to control property taxes and to insure that Jersey City is affordable for every working family” he said at the outset of his remarks.
Speaking to a standing-room-only assemblage of press and supporters packed inside a small Dominican restaurant on Martin Luther King Drive, McGreevey then pivoted to quality of life, calling for “balanced” development, increased parking, less auto congestion, more parking and cleaner streets.
“I also believe that if you want a world-class city, you need world-class schools,” saying the schools should focus on early childhood literacy.
Touching on recent reports of dysfunction at Jersey City’s 911 call center, McGreevey called for “a 911 system that works with a response time that insures the safety of our families and our children.”
The New Jersey Reentry Program which McGreevey has headed up since 2013, figured prominently in his remarks as did his own experience being forced to step down as Governor in 2004 amidst a sex scandal.
“I have made mistakes in my life for which I’ve apologized and own. But ask the families for whom I’ve served…and they will frankly say that Jim McGreevey worked long and hard to bring needed change.”
McGreevey asked two of his former re-entry clients attest to his character. Former inmate Candido Ortiz, who served 28 years in federal prison and is now the owner of Sabor Cafe where the event was held, credited McGreevey with turning his life around. “What I am today is because of him.”
Following his resignation from the governorship, McGreevey, who was raised Catholic, studied to be an Episcopal priest at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, where he earned his master’s degree in divinity. His first bid to become a priest was rejected “amid the fallout of his bitter divorce” from his second wife, former First Lady of New Jersey Dina Matos. He has since rejoined the Catholic Church.
McGreevey noted with evident satisfaction that Matos attended today’s event.
Nine Hudson County mayors have endorsed McGreevey. Mayor Fulop, with whom McGreevey had a falling out, has not made an endorsement in the race.
No other candidates have officially entered the race for mayor, but Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea is expected to announce his candidacy by the end of the month. Council President Joyce Watterman and Ward E Councilman James Solomon are also predicted to join the race.