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At-large candidates divide on abatements
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At-large candidates divide on abatements

Thursday, April 16, 2009
By CHARLES HACK
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

It was the battle of the at-large council candidates in Jersey City Tuesday night at the Harborview Health Care Center on Ogden Avenue as tax abatements surfaced as the hot topic.

Two incumbents - City Council President Mariano Vega Jr., 59, and Peter M. Brennan, 65, both running on a slate with Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy - defended the city's use of tax abatements.

Payments from abatements contributed $88 million to the city's current budget, they said. The city pockets 95 percent of the tax abatement money, while conventional property taxes are shared with the county and schools. Tax-abated Downtown projects also produce jobs for city residents through project labor agreements, they said.

The nine other candidates in attendance weren't buying it.

They argued the tax abatements are giveaways to developers and take money away from needed services, such as putting more police on the beat and fixing potholes.

"Sometimes I look at Jersey City as a tale of two cities," said Betty Outlaw, 60, the city's former director of the Department of Public Works and an at-large candidate on mayoral candidate Louis Manzo's ticket.

"We have the waterfront that is so beautiful and everything is so nice there, but when you go into other neighborhoods there is despair, crime, dirt, potholes and other problems."

Besides Outlaw, the other at-large hopefuls running with Manzo at the forum were former county sheriff Joseph T. Cassidy, 67 and Lori Serrano, 36.

Attending from mayoral candidate Harvey Smith's slate was Ronald F. Greco, 35, Frank Scalcione, 43, and Noemi Velazquez, 58.

From mayoral candidate Daniel Levin's team was Emilio DeLia, 43, and Andrew C. Hubsch, 43.

At-large candidate Abdul J. Malik, 50, was also present, while independent Marie Day did not attend.

The challengers called for more focus on dealing with crime, including gang violence. Manzo's team called for more youth programs and community policing.

Malik and candidates on Levin's and Smith's slates said city government needs to be more accountable and nepotism and dual-job holding needs to end.

Posted on: 2009/4/16 12:27
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