Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, endorsed Michael
“Billy” Bisogno in what is shaping up to be a competitive Ward E council race.
“We’re here to announce endorsement of Michael Billy … to represent his Ward in Jersey City. This was an easy decision for us because Michael has been with us, on the sidelines, every time an issue arises,” GSE Executive Director Christian Fuscarino at a press conference in front of City Hall this afternoon.
“Something comes up Michael calls us and says ‘We need to a get a rally together. We need to organize for those to make change.’ And we’re so grateful for that kind of leadership at a local level. So when we made this decision, we’re so happy we get to support someone who supports the community as much as Michael Billy does.”
After the presser, Fuscarino said that this was the first time GSE, which was founded in 2004, endorsed someone for a council seat.
Billy, one of at least six declared candidates in Ward E – the the only one to declare when incumbent Candice Osborne was still in the race – expressed excitement about receiving the endorsement amidst a crowd of about 15 supporters.
“And this really speaks to the work we’ve been doing as a community. Behind me are community members, activists, artists, residents: people that have really contributed to the culture, the vibe of Jersey City,” exclaimed Billy.
“Over the past couple years, we have done some incredible work together. We came together for Orlando, who was here for Orlando? Who was here for our vigil, for our Muslim and immigration rally? Which was incredible. We’ve come together for our trans youth and it is just an honor, to be honest with you.”
The endorsement seemed pretty academic given Billy’s previous working relationship with the organization, though it drew the ire of the other openly gay candidate in Ward E: Jake Hudnut, who is running on mayoral challenger Bill Matsikoudis’ ticket.
“Coming out taught me a type of empathy that allows me to give a voice to not only my LGBTQ peers, but also to other marginalized communities without someone to stand up for them. I am an activist, daily and without fanfare in the halls of law as a court-appointed attorney, where real change happens,” Hudnut told Hudson County View in an email.
“While I appreciate the symbolism of Michael Billy-style activism, it’s important to recognize that planning a rally to get your name in the press does not make you ready to lead. But fighting every day as a public defender and a progressive campaign manager has made me ready to lead as Downtown’s councilman.”
When informed of the criticism, Billy reiterated that he is “honored” by the endorsement and returned fire at Hudnut.
“I’m honored that GSE, and the thousands of members of the LGBTQ community it represents, recognized what I’ve been able to achieve for others during the course of my career and will be able to accomplish for the residents of Ward E,” stated Billy.
“I’m sorry Jake has tried to make this day all about himself.”
Also seeking the Ward E council seat are Evict-Trump Kushner activist James Solomon, corporate law attorney Madeline Cag, funeral home director and longtime Jersey City resident Nick Grillo and Rebecca Symes – a former aide to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).