Bill Matsikoudis says Jersey City needs to implement community policing and other governing innovations, but incumbent Mayor Steve Fulop believes the key to winning a second term is raising as much money as possible.
“We’ve really been able to develop a terrific friendship,” Fulop said about Jared Kushner, when they joined together for the May 14, 2014 groundbreaking at Trump Bay Street development but lately the Democrat has been trying to distance himself from President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
“We need greater police presence in our streets and the Jersey City Police Department must move from a warrior mindset to a guardian mindset,” said Matsikoudis, who is challenging the incumbent in the city’s first one-on-one mayoral contest in more than four decades. “That’s why I believe strongly in community policing, and will fully implement it as Mayor.”
“My experience, as both a senior official in city government and as a citizen activist, has made clear to me that local government works better when the public plays an active role,” said Matsikoudis. “Community input and participation leads to better outcomes and raises civic pride.”
In July, Matsikoudis spoke out against hiring around two dozen officers laid off from the sheriff’s department in Bergen County, arguing that 25 local Jersey City residents who applied for those positions and deserve the jobs.
“First and foremost, this is going to deprive 25 Jersey City residents of a career in the Police Department of Jersey City,” Matsikoudis told city council members. “There’s a list of people out there who have taken the police exam and this is taking, usurping from them to serve in the police department.”
Matsikoudis called the Bergen County deal an example of his opponent’s effort to buy favor with politicians at taxpayer expense and Fulop recently accepted campaign cash from a city police officer who got a promotion, a practice he called a ‘shakedown’ before he won the 2013 race.
Matsikoudis is the only challenger facing the incumbent in the race for mayor but 35 men and women filed petitions to run for nine City Council seats at stake in the municipal election on Nov. 7.
Matsikoudis’ slate includes Esmeralda Trinidad, a Realtor; Michael Winds, a school administrator; and Esther Wintner 57, a client services associate with UBS. Fulop, seeking a second term, is running with incumbents Rolando Lavarro, 46; Daniel Rivera, 51; and Joyce Watterman, 59.
Rick Johnson, 50, who works at the Hudson County jail, is running on Matsikoudis’ ticket in Ward A; while Denise Ridley, 33, who works in sales and marketing for a pharmaceutical firm, is on Fulop’s slate. Joe Conte, 61, a labor supervisor for the public school system, and Pamela Johnson, 43, who works for a mechanical construction company and directs the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement
Matsikoudis’ slate also includes Councilman Chris Gadsden, 43, a Lincoln High School vice principal, is seeking a full term in Ward B; Janet Chevres, 53, an administrator at JPMorgan Chase, in Ward C; Carmen Vega, 53, a clerk at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital, in Ward D; attorney Jake Hudnut, 34, in Ward E; and in Ward F, Yolanda Dorch-Amiker, 47, who runs a nonprofit that helps veterans return to civilian life.
Fulop is not endorsing a council candidate in Ward E but he is backing Mira Prinz-Arey, 45, development and special projects coordinator for a local nonprofit in Ward B; John Hanussak, 48, who works for the city Resident Response Center; Moriah “Mo” Kinberg, 37, who works at land-use research and policy organization New Jersey Future; and Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson, 42, owner of the Light Rail Cafe.
Fulop has been friendly with one branch of the Kushner family tree for decades, while it appears his relationship with the other began around when he was elected mayor in May 2013.
Brothers Murray and Charles Kushner are real-estate developers locked in a feud for more than 10 years. Murray Kushner, of KRE Group, is Jonathan’s father. Fulop, 40, attended Solomon Schechter Day School in West Orange with Jonathan Kushner, whose father is real-estate developer Murray Kushner.
Murray Kushner, of KRE Group, is locked in a bitter feud with Jared’s father, Charles Kushner, of Kushner Companies.
Soon after his election as mayor, Fulop met privately with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — Jared’s wife and Trump’s oldest daughter. Since then, Kushner Companies — where Jared Kushner was CEO from 2008 until January — and KABR Group acquired five Jersey City properties, including the old Jersey Journal building.
Kushner Companies funnelled $100,000 through a nonprofit that gave $400,000 to a super PAC linked to Fulop. The contribution was returned after Fulop abandoned his gubernatorial campaign.
Parts of Jersey City Ward F and Ward A have unemployment rates over 30 percent.
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