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Re: So far, six rumored to run for mayor - Residents say what they want from next City Hall occupant
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Posted on: 2008/7/13 18:17

So far, six rumored to run for mayor - Residents say what they want from next City Hall occupant
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So far, six rumored to run for mayor
Residents say what they want from next City Hall occupant

Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter staff writer

MAYOR OR MAYBE NOT? ? Residents spoke to the Jersey City Reporter last week about which of these six potential mayoral candidates will get their vote in the May 2009 mayoral election: Sandra Cunningham, Steven Fulop, Jerramiah Healy, Louis Manzo, Bret Schundler, and L. Harvey Smith.

Several present and former city officials are rumored to be running for Jersey City mayor in May 2009, including: Mayor Jerramiah Healy, former Mayor Bret Schundler, State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, former State Assemblyman and longtime mayoral hopeful Louis Manzo, Downtown City Councilman Steven Fulop, and current State Assemblyman and former City Council President L. Harvey Smith.

In newspaper articles and political columns, the aforementioned potential candidates have touted their recent success in office (Healy), claimed to have the best record heading Jersey City government (Schundler), and cited their past political work (Fulop, Manzo, Cunningham, and Smith).

But what do the residents of Jersey City think of these candidates? And what do they really want out of the next mayor?

Taxes and the quality of life seem to be at the forefront.

Concerned about taxes

Antonio Dabu has been a Realtor for over 20 years, based in the Journal Square area. He has lived in Jersey City since 1985.

One of his major concerns is the rise in property taxes in both Jersey City and Hudson County, as well as tax breaks for developers. He looks to the next mayor to keep property taxes down.

"Homeowners, whether it's Hudson County or Jersey City, do not want to see any increase in the taxes," Dabu said. "You give tax breaks to big developers and corporations and it's not fair to the citizens."

Dabu added, "Someone really has to investigate this. Who benefits more - the city and its citizens or the developers and corporations?"

Dabu said he has heard all six people listed above mentioned as potential candidates. He said he would consider either Healy or Schundler based on their experience serving as mayor.

Dabu also had a suggestion for anyone eyeing the mayor's office.

"[Mayoral candidates] should hold town hall meetings in each and every ward in the city," Dabu said, "so they can look me and other voters straight in their eye, and tell us what their plans for the city are."

Event organizer and involved citizen

Born and bred in Jersey City, Minnie Torres grew up in Downtown Jersey City and still lives on the outskirts of Downtown with her son.

A lifelong resident, Torres is a familiar face to many who see her at various parades and functions either as a vendor and/or organizer such as the city's annual Puerto Rican Parade and Festival (coming this August).

Torres also works with senior citizens as a volunteer with Jersey City-based Hudson Hospice Volunteers, Inc.

Torres said she would consider Bret Schundler for mayor, noting she campaigned for him when he ran for re-election in 1997.

But she will not "take seriously" his comments to the press that he is running for office, or for that matter any potential candidates' comments, until they actually declare officially that are competing.

Torres also said she wants the next mayor to tackle the issue of abatements - agreements to exempt developers from regular, fluctuating property taxes. In those agreements, the developers instead pay a set amount of taxes over a pre-determined period of time, usually 20, 30, or even 40 years.

"I am for abatements but they are too long - 30, 40 years of not paying their fair share of taxes, this is just ridiculous," Torres said. "What about the homeowners like my parents or the senior citizens I deal with who have to bear the burden?

Torres added, "I say five or 10 years, and that's it."

Got a political phone poll

Jersey City native Sharyn Waters remember getting an unusual phone call in May.

"I got a survey two months ago and I was being asked me what I thought about Schundler, Manzo, Fulop, and Healy," Waters said last week. "But the way they kept asking the questions, the way they framed them, I just said to the person, 'Look, which one is paying you to do this survey?' "

Waters, who lives on the west side of the city, comes by her feistiness as a longtime activist, having worked locally and nationally on such issues as helping to reform the Metropolitan Family Health Clinic on Garfield Avenue, and on helping free famous Pennsylvania Death Row inmate Mamie Abu-Jamal.

Waters has not made up her mind at to whom she will vote for in May 2009, but she already knows who will not get her vote.

"I definitely do not want to see Bret Schundler or Harvey Smith in office," Waters said. "I see Schundler as a 'pied piper' for the gentrification that has moved blacks and Latinos out of the city, and Harvey Smith is a 'snake in the grass' when it comes to issues in the community."

Waters says whoever wins in May 2009 should immediately tackle three issues: more jobs for local residents, gun violence, and the proliferation of guns into Jersey City.

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Posted on: 2008/7/13 14:12

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