1. What about your background makes you a good County Commissioner?
I have served as both a councilman for 8 years and now as a county commissioner formerly called Freeholder since I was elected in 1997. I have experience and have developed relationships on city county state and federal level to get things done.
2. How does your background inform how you approach your job?
My background has always made me an independent voice. I am not afraid to stand up and speak out on issues even when there are ramifications like my vocal opposition to the ICE contract renewal which resulted in my being stripped of my vice chairmanship two months later. I also pride myself on constituent services and have maintained a community office at no cost to taxpayers throughout my tenure.
3. Some people believe that “the line” is unfair and illegal. What is your position on it?
I was elected by one vote against the political organization and twice was elected against the organization. I would not oppose changes that would make the selection to the line a transparent process where the county committee meet and vote on who gets the party line or other changes.
4. Can you tell us about specific causes you’ve worked on in Jersey City?
I work on dozens of issues. I sponsored the second living wage law in the country, am opposing city efforts to charge for public pools, got county to allocate $1 million for RTC legal services and make sure all county camps are fully funded and FREE. Also in 2014 got the county to create a warming center for our homeless residents. These are just a few of the issues.
5. What do you feel are the most important issues to Jersey City residents going forward and what would you do to address them?
Biggest JC issue is budget and taxes. The city has an operating deficit of close to $100 million which this year will be filled with land sales. Also the city is not fully collecting the payroll taxes. This hurts our schools. More staff is needed to collect this and other revenue.
Affordable housing is a critical need. Both preserving it and creating new units. There are state incentives to assist developers in creating UHAC units in mixed income development. I am working with several to access that. We also need a permanent funding source for RTC services which the pending ordinance will do. Also AHTF money should be used in the short term to help tenants facing eviction as a result of the pandemic.
We need more recreation including opening up our schools’ gyms. I am working with the BOE on figuring out how to do that.
We have a major food insecurity issue in JC and a NFP I’m affiliated with is distributing food to over 2000 people a month. I am also working with several other NFPs who distribute food to get them funding.
Lastly I run a program called IMPACT with the county building trades to get local residents access to construction union apprenticeships. The need for jobs with career paths is also a big issue facing JC.
6. Do you support the plan proposed for Liberty State Park by the Paul Fireman backed groups “Liberty State Park for All” and “The People’s Park?”
I do not support the Fireman plan. I have been a supporter of Sam Pesin and the FOLSP for 30 years I have spoken at rallies against Fireman plan. We don’t need commercial development in the park. No arenas or stadiums.
7. Are Jersey City property taxes too low, about right or too high?
That s a loaded question. The problem is delaying small increases and then hitting people with one way too high increase. Stabilizing taxes is critical and keeping any increase to a CPI level.
8. Is there anything else our readers should know about you?
In my spare time I like to write. I self-published one book called the Legacy of Haguesville and just finished a first draft of another book which is a political murder mystery. Stay tuned.