Below is a letter sent by the Journal Square Community Association to members of the Jersey City Municipal Council and the city clerk asking that they “immediately implement hybrid in-person/virtual city council meetings.” Unlike Hoboken and Newark, Council President Joyce Watterman has not committed to holding such meetings.
To: Joyce Watterman, Council President, Amy DeGise, Councilperson At Large, Daniel Rivera, Councilperson At Large, Denise Ridley, Ward A Councilperson, Mira Prinz-Arey, Ward B Councilperson, Richard Boggiano, Ward C Councilperson, Yousef J. Saleh, Ward D Councilperson, James Solomon, Ward E Councilperson, Frank E. Gilmore, Ward F Councilperson, Sean Gallagher, City Clerk
cc: Mayor Steven Fulop
March 2, 2022
Re: Call for Hybrid City Council Meetings
We, the Board of the Journal Square Community Association, are writing to urge you to immediately implement hybrid in-person/virtual city council meetings.
Over the past two years, as residents had to retreat under Covid-19 restrictions, we witnessed Jersey City residents become more engaged in their community. While the pandemic created many disruptions, it has also ushered in new approaches that have fostered greater civic engagement. Several City Council meetings have seen hundreds of speakers calling in to speak on topics as varied as housing, policing, and our city budget.
As we look to shape our new normal, all of the gains that have been made during the pandemic cannot be undone. Already we know that it is challenging for working families, especially women and women of color, to be able to make time to attend community meetings. Women have borne the disproportionate brunt of the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, an overwhelming number of women had to leave the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities. Even without a pandemic, we know that working families and women are often juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities that make it challenging to participate in civic life. We must make civic participation easier for residents, not harder. Hybrid meetings are one way to do this.
In addition, hybrid meetings would offer people with disabilities, who may not easily be able to make it to City Hall, an opportunity to remain engaged and share their voice in our community.
Finally, there are still many residents who are immunocompromised and who cannot attend meetings, either because they are unable to be vaccinated or because, even after having been vaccinated, public meetings could present a risk to their health. The city must make every effort to make this reasonable accommodation for our residents.
We are heartened to see neighboring Hoboken and Newark committing to hybrid city council meetings. It is our hope that Jersey City will follow and make the necessary investments to host hybrid meetings moving forward.
Open to all residents of Jersey City, the Journal Square Community Association represents the diverse Journal Square community and advocates for the rights and interests of residents of the Journal Square area. The Journal Square Community Association is among the largest community and neighborhood associations in Jersey City.
We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter, not just for the residents of Journal Square but for the nearly 300,000 residents of our great city.
Jovina Johnson, President
Tom Zuppa, Vice President
Bill Armbruster, Secretary
Mia Scanga, Treasurer
At-Large Trustees: Kevin Bing, Sumit Galhotra, Dario Gutierrez, Chris Lamm, Leticia Villalon-Soler