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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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If you're a registered voter, Democrate or Republican, you would have rec'd a Sample Ballot in the mail last week as in any election. If you're an independent, please go & declare you want to be a Democrate & vote in this election...
We need people to vote....

Posted on: 2007/6/4 5:26
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Yes, but to WHOM are they giving the jobs? their cousins, nephews, drug-dealing sons?

Quote:

nugnfutz wrote:
Cunningham - "lets solve crime by giving people jobs"
Manzo - "lets cut property tax and fund schools by taxing the rich"

Not sure who appeals more to the trendy-lefty-pinko-liberal-idiot vote. Tough call Steve.

Posted on: 2007/5/31 13:36
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Regardless who wins, we will still have the same problems with roads, sewers, education, crime and tax.

City Hall should invest in lottery tickets to help us out and I've just about had enough of the same sorts of politicians being regurgitated and flushing our hard earned money away.

Taxing our rich is no solution, because you might find they are all transient residents living on the waterfront and would leave if taxes went higher. The best chance is with the corporations here and big business - it makes you wonder why they left NY in the first place!

Posted on: 2007/5/31 10:21
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Cunningham - "lets solve crime by giving people jobs"
Manzo - "lets cut property tax and fund schools by taxing the rich"

Not sure who appeals more to the trendy-lefty-pinko-liberal-idiot vote. Tough call Steve.

Posted on: 2007/5/31 6:43
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Mulan,the 31st is all of ward F,ward A,parts of b,c,and the following districts in ward E. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-13-15-21-23.

We can really stick it to city hall by coming out big in Ward E.

Posted on: 2007/5/31 3:36
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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This website tells you where to vote:

Poll Place Search

Posted on: 2007/5/30 18:09
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Well, at least this headline said that this is a primary election and it on June 5th. I am waiting for a headline that says that these people are on the Democratic ticket.

If one is a registered Democrat, should one have received instructions in the mail yet?

If one is not a registered Democrat, I guess one can show up on Tuesday and declare that one wants to be a Democrat and vote that day.

And what are the boundaries for the 31st district without digging through cyberspace?

Posted on: 2007/5/30 17:52
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Re: June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Here is a more concise, less diplomatic translation:

Ms. Cunningham is no more than a puppet for the Machine. She is in cohorts with her husband's political enemies. She has zero experience. A vote for her is a vote for the Machine--which is currently controlled by the Mayor.



Those of you waiting for the next mayoral election, each vote against the Machine chips away his power and ability to get reelected. Don't be lazy, vote on Tuesday.



[quote]
BrightMoment wrote:
Steven Fulop [info@stevenfulop.com]
Wed 5/30/07 9:30 AM

State Senate and State Assembly Election

This coming Tuesday is an election that will be an important part in shaping the political landscape in Hudson County for years to come. I.....

We need experienced, knowledgeable and seasoned representatives that think independently and aren't beholden to outside interests. ...
quote]

Posted on: 2007/5/30 17:49
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June 5th Primary Election - Steven Fulop
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Steven Fulop [info@stevenfulop.com]
Wed 5/30/07 9:30 AM

State Senate and State Assembly Election

This coming Tuesday is an election that will be an important part in shaping the political landscape in Hudson County for years to come. In the 31st district particularly, it is the most competitive legislative race in NJ between Assemblyman Manzo and Sandra Cunningham. In the case that you have not made a decision yet on who gets your vote, I hope that I can have a small part in influencing that decision.


I was personally torn on my support in this race due to the fact that in many ways it was Glenn Cunningham who was crucial in starting my career in public service and that weighed heavy on my mind. However, in the end, if Hudson County is ever to move forward politically we cant put the people in office based on personal relationships but we need to search for who will do the best job in their elected position. With this the most critical point, I am working and supporting Assemblyman Manzo and his two running mates in this election (Nicholas Chiaravolloti and Shelia Newton-Moses)

As a councilman here in Jersey City, I realize first hand how difficult it is to represent such a diverse district, with so many people, and so many different interests and needs. In Trenton specifically, everyday elected officials must fight to bring back aid for our schools, funds for our programs and assistance for much needed infrastructure improvements. All the while these representatives must be available to their constituents to listen to their concerns and to meet their needs. They must also have the foresight, vision and background to vote on issues that most concern us as a state. In his time at the State Assembly, Louis Manzo has performed and it is my belief, he has earned the opportunity to serve in the Senate based on performance.

We need experienced, knowledgeable and seasoned representatives that think independently and aren't beholden to outside interests. This is about putting the right people into the right jobs and I ask that you consider Lou Manzo for State Senate, and the team that he has selected to help him deliver in the State Assembly as well.

I am proud to have endorsed Lou Manzo for State Senate and Nicholas Chiaravolloti and Shelia Newton-Moses for State Assembly and I ask that on June 5th you help me by sending a message to the old time Hudson County politicians with your vote. It was a tough decision for me as I now have lots at stake as well, but I feel confident that this is the best choice to move the city forward.


Change happens one vote at a time, and I believe with your help on June 5th we can take another step forward in the direction of progress.

Sincerely,


Steven Fulop
Councilman Jersey City

Posted on: 2007/5/30 16:53
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Voters Guide to the hotly contested Senate race in the 31st
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Senate hopefuls point to stands on issues
Each runs on record
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
One is a policy wonk running with Hudson County's Democratic renegade.

The other is a first-time candidate, the widow of a beloved former mayor.

The race between state Assemblyman Louis Manzo and Sandra Bolden Cunningham in Tuesday's Democratic primary for state senator in the 31st District has already proved titillating, with revelations of a sex offender volunteering with Bolden Cunningham's campaign and the presence of former mayor and political cutthroat Gerald McCann in Manzo's camp.

But both candidates agree the race should be determined by their track record on issues of crime, property taxes and school funding.

Bolden Cunningham, 56, acknowledges her legislative agenda is skimpy, noting in a recent interview her "urban plan" is still being developed. But the detail voters in Bayonne and Jersey City are most clear about, she said, is that she is on their side.

"I am not a politician," said Bolden Cunningham, a Newark-born onetime aspiring actress backed in this contest by her late husband's former nemesis, the Hudson County Democratic Organization.

"I am someone who's been working in this community since I moved to Jersey City," said Bolden Cunningham, the $25,000-a-year executive director of the Glenn D. & Sandra Cunningham Foundation. "As I am walking down the street, people shake my hands because they know I am truly committed to them."

Manzo, a 52-year-old former freeholder and City Council member, on the other hand, seems to have never encountered an issue he didn't have a four-part plan to address.

Running on the "Democrats for Hudson County" ticket headed by Union City Mayor and state Assemblyman Brian Stack, who's gunning for the state Senate seat in the 33rd District, Manzo recently spoke about several legislative initiatives he's championed.

They include his controversial "Smart bill," which calls for raising the income tax on the wealthy to pay for schools, and his recently formulated "Health Care Management Act," which is intended to drive a stake through the heart of managed care. Due to the stir created by his "Smart bill," Manzo takes partial credit for the deal struck by Gov. Jon Corzine and the state Legislature to cut property taxes by 20 percent for most homeowners this year.

His "Health Care Management Act" would force insurance companies to pay all claims, he said. Disputes would be handled by a "New Jersey Board of Health Care Management," which would also establish medical rates procedures, Manzo said.

The bill would also require doctors to treat uninsured patients. For doctors whose uninsured patient load amounted to 30 percent or more of their entire volume, the state would pay for their medical malpractice insurance, Manzo said.

The legislation would also require insurance companies to return some of the profit from investing premiums, said Manzo, who as president of Metro Insurance Group, claims insider's knowledge of the "games" insurance companies play.

Bolden Cunningham endorsed universal health care as the ultimate panacea for America's health crisis. But in the short term, she said, she's fighting cuts in service at the Jersey City Medical Center and Greenville Hospital.

On the subject of crime, Bolden Cunningham said the real cure lies in job creation.

"You see young people shooting each other, it's because they don't have anything to do," Bolden Cunningham said. "They don't have jobs."

Through her foundation, Bolden Cunningham said, she's worked with Ward F City Councilwoman Viola Richardson to fund a gun buy-back program.

Bolden Cunningham is also bullish on Second Chance, a program created by her late husband to help ex-offenders re-enter the workforce.

Last year, Manzo sponsored a slew of anti-crime legislation, some of which has become law.

Both Manzo and Bolden Cunningham support New Jersey's civil unions law, although Bolden Cunningham would take it further and legalize gay marriage. She also quipped she'd support a marriage between Manzo and McCann, his political ally.

Manzo said gay marriage legislation is unnecessary since the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that opened the door to civil unions has set the stage for a lawsuit that would legalize gay marriage.

Both candidates agreed Abbott school funding should continue for the state's 31 poorest school districts, including Jersey City. And they agreed the scandal-plagued Schools Construction Corp., the state agency responsible for building new schools in those districts, should be reformed and re-funded.





? 2007 The Jersey Journal
? 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.

Posted on: 2007/5/30 15:41
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Cunningham and Manzo in a down-the-stretch showdown
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Cunningham and Manzo in a down-the-stretch showdown

By Max Pizarro - May 28 - PoliticsNJ.com


With the exception of a courtroom squabble over signatures, the contest for state Senate in district 31 proved mild in May until both sides popped the manhole covers on JFK Boulevard and snorkeled straight to the lower depths of Hudson County for an all-out mud-fest.

Examine recent campaign flyers from both camps.

The Sandra Bolden Cunningham/Hudson County Democratic Organization glossies show pictures of former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann interposed with shots of state Senate candidate (and Assemblyman) Louis Manzo. A close-up of McCann in one of these mailings brings to mind all of the fearful malevolence of Peter Lorre in a low budget horror flick, while the pic of Manzo suggests a wannabe desperado spitting sand out of his face after getting bucked off his charge.

McCann?s affiliation with Manzo has proved the Cunningham contingent?s favorite bright-red button. As Manzo tried to deny there was a connection, then attempted to make a case for forgiveness of McCann?s past sins, the McCann banter from the opposing side intensified, and Manzo was clearly in danger of becoming ?McManzo.?

Against the backdrop of his Marion Barry-like re-entry into municipal politics as a Jersey city School Board member, it appeared McCann would become the blimped-up protagonist in a tale culminating with Manzo?s loss, an end made all the more likely by the former mayor?s creepy assemblage of signatures at a senior citizen?s complex.

That was before Randall Wallace entered the drama.

When Manzo learned the Cunningham campaign was working the streets with a convicted sex offender in their entourage, the assemblyman went on offense. Manzo figured if he were getting his comeuppance for relying on the campaign counsel of a politician who once wore striped pajamas for tax evasion and fraud, the proud Cunningham ? ever the uppity presence in the snake-pit of Hudson and walking around with an arguably even more menacing threat to society, was overdue for a reality check.

Cunningham refused to denounce Wallace or dismiss him from her campaign, before he willingly bowed out late last week.

But the damage was done.

Now throughout the 31st district, Manzo?s campaign mailings show Cunningham with Wallace, Wallace with Cunningham, even as the city?s Spanish-language newspapers kept the story afloat over the weekend.

The Wallace factor could also have devastating consequences in Bayonne, a Roman Catholic stronghold. But with its 51 districts, Bayonne is dwarfed in district 31 by wards A and F in Jersey City which add up to 67 districts, where candidates in both campaigns say expungement of the records of non-violent young offenders remains a pressing issue, not to mention combating the underlying causes of violent crime.

?Why don?t you do a story about the fact that there was a man shot and killed on that street right over there last night,? said Jeff Dublin, a Hudson County freeholder and Cunningham supporter, standing in the Greenville section where his candidate hopes to win primary support in the African-American community. ?There are real problems in this neighborhood, without dragging candidates down.?

Cunningham faces the particular challenge of engaging African-American voters in a primary, and she knows it.

?We vote in general elections,? Cunningham told a crowd two weeks ago. ?But this time we?re going to need your vote in June.?

Meanwhile, Manzo picked up the endorsement last week of Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop and hopes to flex his muscles in the remaining Jersey City sections of the 31st district ? parts of wards B and C.

On Saturday night at the Manzo headquarters on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, campaign chieftain Pat Desmond kicked back as he watched Carlos Delgado blast one out of the ballpark.

?We?ve got it won,? he said, nodding to yet another campaign worker who left with a bundle of Manzo signs under his arms.

?This thing is over,? said Desmond. ?I say we win by 14 points.?

He wasn?t referring to the Mets game.

On a Sunday morning public television show taped last week, Manzo and Cunningham appeared side by side on Jim Hooker?s On the Record and discussed their candidacies. It was the first time during the campaign season they have appeared at the same forum, and it came after Cunningham said she wouldn?t debate Manzo.

Cunningham used a segue of Manzo?s inability to date to build majority support for his property tax relief plan, to counter criticism that she has allied with the very organization her husband, former Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, fought.

?I think the way to get things done is to be able to work with people, and one of the things that I?m hoping to do when I go to Trenton is to put together what I call an urban plan, which has not been done before and this is to work with state legislators from other urban areas that share the same problems that we do and come up with a block... to build support,? Cunningham said.

But when Cunningham questioned how long Wallace, who?s already done time behind bars, should be ostracized, Manzo hit hard.

?A second chance for child molesters and those who rape victims will kill any expungement program for non-violent offenders in Trenton,? Manzo said.


And no one mentioned McCann.

Posted on: 2007/5/29 11:51
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Big showdown: Manzo vs. Cunningham
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Big showdown: Manzo vs. Cunningham
Two candidates compete for 31st District State Senate seat

Ricardo Kaulessar and Al Sullivan
Hudson Reporter 05/26/2007

Louis Manzo and Sandra Bolden Cunningham are facing off for a four-year term in the state Senate in the 31st District in the June 5 Democratic primary.

The 31st District covers all of Bayonne and much of Jersey City except for the Heights section.

Cunningham, the widow of late Jersey City Mayor and State Sen. Glenn Cunningham, is running for state Senate on a slate endorsed by the longtime Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO). This is Cunningham's first run for a political office.

State Assemblyman Manzo is looking to make the leap from Assembly to state Senate. He is running on the ticket backed by the newly-formed Democrats for Hudson County, a group formed by Union City Mayor and State Assemblyman Brian Stack (D-33rd Dist.)

Whoever wins the June 5 Democratic primary will face a Republican in November.

Along with the State Senate seat, there are also two State Assembly seats up for grabs. Running for 31st District Assembly on the Cunningham slate are former Jersey City City Council President L. Harvey Smith and Bayonne City Councilman Anthony Chiappone. Running for Assembly on the Manzo slate is Nicholas Chiaravalloti, a Bayonne resident who serves on the staff of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, and Jersey City resident Sheila Newton-Moses, head of the Sunnyside Academy, a chain of preschools in Jersey City. For profiles of those Assembly candidates, visit www.hudsonreporter.com

Sandra Bolden Cunningham

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Running for her first political office, Sandra Bolden Cunningham has received political guidance from advisors and close friends, but there's one person to whom she always looks for spirit - her late husband, Glenn Cunningham, the former Jersey City mayor who also held the same State Senate post she hopes to hold.

"Campaigning is difficult in general, but it is even more difficult as I am accustomed to turning around and talking to [Glenn], or turning and seeing him talk to a resident." Cunningham said.

Cunningham grew up in Newark, the daughter of a minister. A graduate of Bloomfield College, she also attended the New York Academy of Theater Arts and received a Fundraising Certificate from New York University.

Mrs. Cunningham is the former executive director of the Hudson County Bar Association in Jersey City, where she was responsible for recruitment of new members, the fiscal growth of the association, and the expansion of activities. She also taught at Montclair State College and was a Community and Public Relations Coordinator for the Essex-Newark Legal Services.

Currently, she is the executive director of the Glenn D. & Sandra Cunningham Foundation located in Jersey City, which was founded in her late husband's memory to help high school students to attend college by providing them with scholarships and funds for books. It also can be a mentor to help guide them through their college education.

She also hopes to develop good relationships with fellow legislators.

"I plan to start working with senators from other urban areas, and hopefully I believe we need an urban plan," Cunningham said. "We need to start working together collectively putting together an urban plan so that we can get money and divide it up amongst ourselves."

Cunningham continued, "We cannot look at urban areas as individual but as a block."

She said she will also look into helping young men recently released from prison to find jobs that Cunningham did with his Second Chance program in Jersey City.

"I get at least 15 to 20 people a day if not more who come by [her campaign office] and ask for a job or need help finding one," Cunningham said.

Cunningham also would work to organize a "senior citizens convention" to gauge the needs of senior citizens living in the district. She says she hopes to follow up with other conventions for various constituent groups to find out their concerns.

When asked about her lack of political experience, Cunningham said she got the training she needed to make a run for the state Senate seat from her late husband's campaigns for mayor in 2001 and state Senate in 2003.

"Campaigning is very difficult in some ways, but in other ways it is good in that you are out there meeting with the people," Cunningham said. "But I don't see it as any different as when Glenn was running."

She has had some public campaign setbacks. It was recently revealed in the press that a volunteer for the Cunningham team, Russell Wallace, was a convicted sex offender. Wallace, who is an employee with the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, stepped down from his volunteer post in the campaign last week following the revelations.

Calls to Cunningham for comment on Wallace were not returned before this article went to press.

Cunningham also has refused to attend any public debates where she would face Manzo. Manzo has attended them alone.

During her previous interview, Cunningham referred to her opponent as the "McCann-Manzo" team, noting that one Manzo advisor is former Mayor Gerald McCann (who spent time in jail for a business-related felony unrelated to his mayoral position). She said she has had to deal with that team's political maneuvers during this election, such as their challenging her petitions in court.

In April, there was some confusion over whether Cunningham had filed petitions for the correct election. Manzo wanted her taken off the June ballot claiming she should not be allowed to participate in the primary because she filed for the November general election and not for the June 5 primary. But a judge in the state's Office of Administrative Law ruled that Cunningham could stay on the ballot.

Louis Manzo

Louis Manzo is running for state Senate in the 31st District on his record as an Assemblyman.

Four years ago, Manzo ran with Sandra Cunningham's husband, then-Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, in what is considered one of the great political upsets in Hudson County history, since they were outsiders defeating the Hudson County Democratic Organization's candidates.

Manzo, who was briefly accepted by the HCDO in 2005, once more finds himself as the outsider. Ironically, Sandra Cunningham is now the HCDO candidate of choice.

Manzo, who previously served as Hudson County freeholder in the early 1990s, has been critical of Sandra Cunningham for her refusal to debate him. He is armed with significant knowledge of issues and an impressive legislative record that puts any challenger at a disadvantage.

Some of the most significant issues of his legislative career have been lowering property taxes, funding schools, fighting crime, and rescuing local hospitals.

Since taking office in January, 2004, Manzo had proposed legislation that would deal with these issues as well as issues concerning the environment.

Perhaps the most well-known of Manzo's proposals is something called "the smart bill," which would shift the burden of funding public schools from property taxes to the income taxes of the state's most wealthy residents.

Although the bill has yet to become law, Manzo said it has pushed lawmakers into making reforms in property taxes, including the upcoming 20 percent reduction due to take effect next year.

"The Smart Bill become law eventually," he predicted.

The bill's goal is to fairly fund the schools throughout the state meeting the stringent guidelines set by several state Supreme Court rulings, Manzo said.

Last year, Manzo sponsored and co-sponsored a package of legislation to fight crime. While some pieces of the crime package ran into legal road and legislative roadblocks, some key provisions have moved on. One of the most significant, Manzo said, is the provision for expunging criminal records of people convicted of non-violent crimes.

"The best way to fight crime and to keep a person from going back to jail is to find that person a job," he said.

But because criminal records often keep people from qualifying for jobs, Manzo authored legislation that would require probation and parole boards to automatically begin expunging proceedings so that people can find jobs.

His legislation for healthcare reform

Perhaps one of the most controversial pieces of legislation Manzo proposed deals with healthcare reform in the state.

Manzo is proposing establishing an insurance board similar to the Board of Public Utilities. This board would regulate costs of procedures, reimbursements to hospitals, and even require insurance companies to use investment profits to help lower the premium costs to people with good healthcare records.

The board would oversee claim disputes, and the law would create incentives for doctors in private practice to take on a portion of the state's charity care.

Manzo's legislation would provide lower malpractice insurance premiums for doctors who take on charity care. He said this would likely have the most benefit to younger doctors starting practices who are faced with the heavy cost of insurance.

By allowing private doctors to take on charity care, hospitals would have less of a burden.

Creating jobs for the area is another concern of Manzo's. His legislation signed into law recently allows for warehousing to be located closer to port terminals in Newark and Elizabeth, rather than planned areas in southern New Jersey. This not only creates job opportunities and remediates former industrial sites, but also reduces truck emissions that would have resulted from transporting goods back to the New York metropolitan area from the remote warehouses.

Manzo is in favor of converting a section of the port facilities near Global Terminal into additional port facilities for container freight. This facility - an area north of Bayonne's former Military Ocean Terminal - is currently being used for unloading car freight.

Manzo has been criticized by his opponents for having former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann as a campaign advisor.

But Manzo pointed out that McCann has worked with many of the same people attacking him, including Glenn Cunningham, Sandra Cunningham's aides, and current Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.

McCann, who is a savvy political analyst, has become a kind of lightening rod because of his controversial political tactics.

Manzo also responded to questions about his financial deals with Union City Mayor Brian Stack. Manzo is part of the Democrats for Hudson County, on which Stack is running in the 33rd District. The DFHC is running county slates against the HCDO.

Manzo, who is a broker for insurance, also provides healthcare coverage to Union City.

"I'm a businessman," he said. "I did business there before this, and this is a competitive bid contract."

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com. Al Sullivan can be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com

Posted on: 2007/5/26 13:03
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Re: Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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Judge Manzo for yourself. Visit www.speaknj.com/ and see five videos of Lou Manzo.
Yvonne

Posted on: 2007/5/17 21:50

Edited by Yvonne on 2007/5/17 22:15:02
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Re: Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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My two cents worth says vote Stack.While the whole anti HCDO angle is just because he is on the outs,nobody can argue that the guy is a work horse.Anything that helps to form a crack in the armor of the Hudson County Machine is good for the county on a whole.

This war that is taking place will last for years and maybe some real good govt. types can slip in while the bullys beat each other over the head.

Vega is just a lazy triple job holder and erand boy for the HCDO.

Posted on: 2007/5/17 20:53
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Re: Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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Quote:

Althea wrote:
Don't drag me into this! Not only am I as thin skinned as they come, I am not a masochist.


Sorry. I don't mean to get you into politics.

I guess I'll write in Sam Pesin, but it just hit me that I don't know what district he lives in.

Posted on: 2007/5/17 19:07
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Re: Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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Don't drag me into this! Not only am I as thin skinned as they come, I am not a masochist.

Posted on: 2007/5/17 18:40
soshin: Mention guns and bd pops up through a hole in the ground like a heavily armed meercat
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Re: Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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I'm in District 33 and have a choice between Brian Stack and the HCDO's Sal Vega.

It seems to me that this is not a spectacularly good choice. It really creeps me out to take the light rail up north past Weehawken and see Stalin-esque walls of Stack posters on every flat surface.

Does anyone know if there are any half-way decent protest vote choices, such as Green Party candidates or Libertarian candidates?

Also: is Vega as bad as Stack or a little better?

Conversely: Is Stack really just a brave opponent of the HCDO? Could anyone make a case that he's actually better than Vega?

Or, should I cast a true protest vote and write in someone like Sam Pesin or Suzanne Mack or Althea?

Posted on: 2007/5/17 15:11
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Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off
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Manzo and Cunningham fight without a face-off

Excerpt from: Politicsnj.com
By Max Pizarro - May 16, 2007 - 11:21pm

Sandra Bolden Cunningham greets Salem Lafayette resident Beverly JonesSandra Bolden Cunningham greets Salem Lafayette resident Beverly Jones

Sandra Bolden Cunningham, widow of Mayor Glenn Cunningham, walks Jersey City -- too tall to her critics, who complain that she has a Queen Elizabeth-like presence that belies her wobbling legs when it comes to public policy.

Low to the ground, by contrast, is Assemblyman Louis Manzo, a onetime Cunningham ally who has made several unsuccessful bids for Mayor.

Critics say Manzo is combative, that he lacks the temperament for the State Senate, and is alienated politically on an island of his own making.

Manzo disagrees, saying he co-sponsored the Highlands Preservation Act, laws improving health for senior citizens and reducing gang violence, in addition to taking the point in a fight to eradicate asbestos and lead contamination in the city.

The African-American daughter of a Pentecostal minister, and the Italian-American son of a bus line operator now oppose each other even as they strive to embody the ideals of a man they both admire in the late mayor, and the will of a diverse people in time for the Democratic Primary in the 31st district on June 5th.

After running on another anti-establishment ticket with Cunningham?s husband, who was a State Senator before his sudden death in 2004, Manzo figures his four years in the Legislature have prepared him for the next battle-zone. The trouble for him is Cunningham?s been side-stepping him, leaving the Assemblyman contending with a powerful headless horseman called the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), which backs Cunningham.

Over the course of the past few weeks, Manzo dutifully made the rounds of debates, showing up to shadowbox as Cunningham just as consistently eschewed opportunities to face him.

Preparing for a cable television face-off with an empty chair in Bayonne this Thursday night, Manzo said Cunningham wants to run a Rose Garden campaign of attack-ads instead of publicly discussing the issues.

"She hasn?t put one public statement out," says Manzo. "She?s hid behind the bosses of Hudson County. If that were my first race for elected office, I would be ashamed. She thinks she?s just going to be anointed."

Cunningham said it?s a simple case of Manzo turning her stomach.

"I don?t even want to be in the same room with the man after all of the evil things he?s done," she said. "Before my husband was buried, he was already trying to make deals with Bob Menendez. I?m taking my campaign to the people I have no intentions of debating."

Even his toughest critics admit Manzo devours public policy. A big issue in the urban districts this season is expungement. Everyone?s talking about it, and Cunningham and Manzo both agree with the prevailing attitude that young drug offenders should not have their records permanently stained because of the transgressions of their youth.

The difference, Manzo says, is he authored expungement legislation last year. The Cunningham contingent notes, however, that he?s still struggling to get it out of committee.

Manzo starts off on a favorite subject like taxes and doesn?t stop.

"You have to move the funding of schools in this state away from the property tax to the income tax," Manzo says. "You do that, it would amount to an average property tax reduction of $1,500 versus a $150 tax increase. You tax the top 1 % of income earners who are not paying their fair share by a long shot. That?s where you get your money. It?s a no-brainer.?

?Look, New Jersey has the highest per-capita income level in the country, said Manzo. ?Federal assistance is all tied to income. We?re getting the least amount of federal aid, and as a result, our local programs are all funded with local property taxes. The subsidy gets forced on middle income workers and the poor. You change that by taxing income."

But Cunningham is unimpressed.

"Politicians make their careers out of running for office. If they hear the word ?elected official? next to their names that?s how they define themselves," she says. "I?m not a politician. My husband was not a politician. He was a public servant. When I am elected I will not forget that I am a public servant."

Politician or not, Cunningham needs votes, and to that end she was out in the neighborhood Wednesday at the Salem-Lafayette Apartments, a community of section 8 housing, where seniors and the disabled live in a 15-story building on Union Street, and families reside in lower-flung outbuildings that span an entire city block. There are 412 units total, and the biggest problem afflicting the seniors in particular is a fear of going outside.

Although living standards have recently improved as police patrols have stepped up, it remains a tenuous environment.

"In the last year or so drug trafficking has diminished from what it has been," said management agent Herbert Graham. "But dollars for programs are really needed. Those individuals on the streets, they float in and float out."

A sign tacked up to a piece of cork-board in the lobby of the Salem Lafayette advertised an afternoon brunch with Cunningham. "You will get an opportunity to sit and talk to the woman who is capable of operating Jersey City."

The residents here know her as "the mother of Jersey City," not only because she is the widow of a beloved mayor, but because Cunningham has endeared herself to the people with donations from the Glenn and Sandra Cunningham Foundation she runs.

"She?s familiar with the building," said Graham, gesturing toward four computers the foundation gave to the seniors here.

Cunningham arrived that afternoon, sweeping gracefully into the community room on a pair of 4-inch heels, heels which have already caught cross-eyed those among her adversaries who pride themselves on their precisely Jersey City ability to pound pavement.

Count among their ranks former Mayor Gerald McCann, who served time for fraud and tax evasion and who, as a Manzo advisor, is one of two sink-weights the Cunningham campaign says will ultimately mire Manzo.

"I?ve never seen the woman out of a pair of heels," McCann said of Cunningham. "I don?t think she owns a pair of tennis shoes. How can she campaign without a pair of tennis shoes?"

On Wednesday, Cunningham winced at the mention of the name "McCann," but promptly fired back: "Not only do I own a pair of tennis shoes, but I?m training to run the New York Marathon in November. It?s 26 miles, and I don?t think Gerry McCann is going to join me."

But if she hasn?t mastered the issues the way Manzo has or lived in an atmosphere of authentic Jersey City chicanery inhabited by McCann, Cunningham to some African-Americans represents a crucial broadening of power for citizens seldom represented by their own.

"There is a change happening in our country," said Kabili Tayari, a former president of the Jersey City School Board and a Cunningham supporter who ran unsuccessfully for State Senate in a 2004 special election. "We can?t keep talking about diversity and equality. We must empower ourselves."

Tayari said the district is occupied by an increasing number of African-American and Latino voters - the total breakdown is 48 % white, 32 percent African-American, and the rest a big ethnic mix with Latinos leading the way and growing. If Cunningham prevails in June, the general election in November would be a walkover, and the candidate would become the district?s first woman senator to represent the district.

"Lou Manzo has done a great job legislatively," said Tayari. "But we are talking about empowerment. Lou Manzo is a good man, but we must address affirmative action in the 31st district."

Off Route 440 on the west side of town there is a strip mall where a Pathmark and K-Mart anchor a hodgepodge of smaller businesses, including a pizza parlor and liquor store. On Wednesday afternoon, while Cunningham talked with the seniors of Salem Lafayette a few blocks away, Manzo stood in front of the Pathmark with his sleeves rolled up, in a tie not quite pulled into position, taking friendly handshakes from constituents of all races, mostly whites.

If Manzo is shackled to McCann in this race, Cunningham must endure the hectoring of voters who remain dumbfounded by her decision to run with former Councilman L. Harvey Smith, an entrenched enemy of her husband.

"My father said you must learn to put your own feelings aside to look at the bigger picture," she told the Salem crowd on Wednesday. "Harvey Smith and I put our differences aside, and I reconciled with the HCDO. You can?t just fight people. Glenn was fighting with a purpose."

Not everyone?s convinced she made the right move aligning herself with Smith.
"Sandra Cunningham knows damn well that Smith is no good," said Roy Starks of Kennedy Boulevard. "I like Manzo because he stands up for the right things and you can?t push him around."

Manzo tries to score a point by shaking his head at an alliance he said would have heartbroken Glenn Cunningham, but he must also simultaneously try to dodge an inevitable counter-attack.

When the Hudson County Democratic Organization isn?t presenting Manzo as the Siamese twin of McCann, they?re underscoring the close ties he has with Union City Mayor (and Assemblyman) Brian P. Stack, who is running for Senate in district 33.
"This is all about Manzo?s health insurance contract with the school district," says HCDO spokesman Paul Swinbinski of the Manzo-Stack political alliance.

Manzo says his Metro Insurance company receives $200,000 each year from the Union City School District. "It?s a publicly bid contract," he says. "While other Hudson County town?s premiums have gone up, well over 20 percent, Union City?s is well below that, and that?s because I take care of it."

District 31 voter Raffaela Crittelli pushed a shopping cart out of the store past Manzo.
"They?re all crooks," she said. "But at least he?s one of mine. I?m voting for Manzo. Again."

Cunningham spent all afternoon with the seniors. "I need your votes and I need your prayers," she told them.

And as the candidates kept their schedules Wednesday, moving on to other events if not into a face-to-face showdown, there was a storm coming, pushing eastward over the Watchung Mountains, over the Oranges, over the swamps and meadowlands and the squat Newark skyline, pushing eastward over the Hackensack toward the neighborhoods of Bayonne and Jersey City.

Posted on: 2007/5/17 13:29
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