Liliane Freitas was less than enthused when downtown Jersey City residents petitioned the city for a speed bump to slow down traffic along a section of Coles Street.

“It would’ve gone right in front of my house,” Freitas said. “This was during [Mayor Steven] Fulop’s ‘Vision Zero’ program, and you only need to get 25 signatures to get a speed bump installed when you should’ve first had to do a traffic study to see if it’s justified.”

So, Freitas reached out to Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who arranged a meeting with the petitioners, the city traffic engineer, and herself to discuss alternative steps. The outcome, she said, was a four-way stop signal at Ninth and Coles, which, she said, satisfied everyone.

Freitas was among an estimated 200-plus folks who turned out Saturday for the kickoff of Solomon’s re-election campaign in Hamilton Park, where campaign staff engaged them with balloons, signs, and speeches along with kids’ crafts and stories.

Solomon, seeking a second 4-year term, is opposed by Jacob Hudnut, the city’s chief municipal prosecutor. Hudnut is running on a ticket headed by Fulop.

Another Solomon fan, Michael Griffin, lauded the councilman for “voting ‘no’ on giving millions to the county” to support a new vocational school and for supporting a proposed civilian complaint review board.

And Richard Cole said he “likes what Solomon has done for this district,” such as “getting stop signs installed on Jersey Avenue. He acts after getting a lot of input from the community. He’s not someone who gets bought.”

Accompanied to the rally by his wife, Gabrielle Ramos-Solomon, and two children, Camila, 3, and Corinne, 1 ½, Solomon said that when he was first elected in 2017 he pledged not to accept donations from real estate interests, “and I kept that promise.”

Between 2014 and 2017, Solomon said, 43 developers of Jersey City projects—including 14 downtown—got tax breaks but during his time in office, downtown projects have received no abatements.

Given the accelerated pace of new developments in the city, Solomon said he felt it was important to show he was not under the sway of those interests. His campaign literature says his vision for the city “includes building a downtown for every family with affordable housing and good schools for both new and longtime residents.”

During his prior residency in Boston, Solomon, who has a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, designed an affordable housing policy for the state of Massachusetts. Since relocating to Jersey City, Solomon has been an adjunct professor at NJCU, St. Peter’s University, and Hudson County Community College.

Solomon has also pledged to “fight for racial justice for every resident and every family in Jersey City” and to work for “safer, cleaner streets with secure intersections and streets and sidewalks clear of trash.”

The candidate said he joined with the Fulop administration in supporting an ordinance regulating Airbnb apartments because it benefited the community.

Solomon told his supporters: “The fundamental question in this election is who can you trust? Jersey City needs an independent progressive voice on the city council. In November, I ask you to send a message that downtown Jersey City is not for sale.”

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Ron Leir

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...