5 of 8 Jersey City runoff candidates participate in traffic safety-themed debate

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Five of the eight Jersey City council candidates on the ballot for the December 5th runoff elections participated in a traffic safety-oriented debate co-hosted by Safe Streets and Bike JC.

Prior to the start of the debate, a man was asked to leave for heckling Ward B council candidate Mira Prinz-Arey.

After the unexpected outburst, co-moderator Patrick Conlon, a board member for Bike JC, asked what major transportation and safety issues exist in their wards and how they plan to fix them.

“As we start to study, I think a holistic approach, to these main roads [that] are very important – and start to move north to south – you can work on ways to slow traffic, make it a little calmer,” said Prinz-Arey.

“I know we’re working on a walkability study, something else that ties into the development on Westside Avenue, putting hanging plants since we have narrow sidewalks.”

Next, co-moderator Kara Hrabosky, the co-founder of Safe Streets JC, asked how the candidates would implement the complete streets policy and improve transit access in their wards.

“Journal Square is controlled by the county and talking to the county is like talking to that wall back there. And then, more garages: what we need is more garages,” said Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano.

“I’ve spoken to the administration, I’ve spoke to the mayor, what I was told was ‘well they’re too expensive.’ So as long as nobody wants to listen, what we need is an independent council who will start doing things.”

Later, Boggiano’s runoff challenger, John Hanussak, said he would make developers a partner in street safety by holding them accountable to redevelopment plans and zoning laws.

On the topic of implementing a Department of Transportation and a Vision Zero task force, Ward E council candidate Rebecca Symes said she would find the best experts and use the most scientific ways to do things in any given situation if elected.

Her opponent, James Solomon, said towards the end of the debate that he would try to bring IT capacity to City Hall to aid with matters such as adding Complete Street improvements to the budget.

“One of the things where I think we haven’t done enough, and is worth bringing back in, is actually IT capacity,” Solomon said.

“It sounds sort of super boring and glosses over everything in politics but we don’t really have great IT capacity in City Hall and that IT capacity can lead to significantly better planning practices in need to support data analysis and that goes back into where dollars should be best invested.”

The event was hosted at the St. Matthews Lutheran Church and Ward A council candidates Denise Ridley and Joe Conte, as well as Ward B Councilman Chris Gadsden, were unable to attend.

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