UPDATED: State Sen. Cunningham endorses Jersey City Mayor Fulop for re-election

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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop accomplished a rare feat of having all three Hudson County state Senators endorse him for re-election, including Sandra Cunningham – who announced her endorsement earlier today.

By John Heinis and Katherine Guest/Hudson County View

In a tweet sent out to the local media yesterday morning, Fulop indicated that a “big endorsement” would be forthcoming at a press conference at Dr. Lena Edwards Park today at 9:30 a.m.

While he did not come out and say Cunningham would be the endorsement, The Jersey Journal reported such a move would be likely last week.

During the press conference, Cunningham addressed the lack of minority leadership throughout the community. Prior to endorsement, Cunningham discussed with Mayor Fulop on proposals and future city plans concerning a minority chief of police to ensure growth among minority neighborhoods.

“The crime takes part in the minority part of the city. The person who’s working to get it straightened out should be a minority police chief. [Fulop] has assured me that he would take that into consideration,” said Cunningham who was assured a seat to pick the new chief.

In 2013, there were merely 769 police officers in the police department, being the lowest in decades. However, during the four years Mayor Fulop has been in office, there are roughly 930 police officers in the police department and 400 firemen in the Jersey City Fire Department.

Commenting on the lack of diversity in the police department in previous years, Mayor Fulop said, “Jersey City was recognized, at that time, nationally as having the worst in the country record with regards to the police department reflecting the diversity of the community.”

“The police department did not look like the diversity that is Jersey City,” said Fulop.

Now, nearly 70% of current police officers are minorities to correct the disparity in the department and it’s reflection on the community.

Cunningham typically stays out of Jersey City mayoral contests, only endorsing once since 2005 (Jerramiah Healy in 2009), but this year looked like it could be different when state Senator (D-32)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack and state Senator (D-33)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco backed Fulop early this year.

Additionally, Cunningham was one of many Hudson County Democratic Organization mainstays that attended a Fulop fundraiser in October, just about three weeks after the mayor endorsed Phil Murphy for governor and said he’d seek re-election.

While Cunningham, a state Senator since 2007, credited Fulop for drawing a good crowd, she stopped short of giving him a formal endorsement at that point.

Furthermore, Fulop has thanked former Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, Sandra’s late husband, for jump starting his political career by convincing him to challenge Bob Menendez for his U.S. Senate seat in 2004.

Although Fulop lost handily, he won an off-the-line campaign for the Jersey City Ward E Council seat in 2005.

Back in September, disgraced former Port Authority official David Wildstein, the state’s key cooperating witness in the Bridgegate trial, testified that the bi-state agency gave $1.5 million to the Hudson County Urban League in 2013 to keep Cunningham from running for mayor (h/t Politico).

Wildstein alleged that the funding was given upon orders from Gov. Chris Christie (R), who at the time was seeking Fulop’s support for his re-election campaign.

Both Cunningham and Fulop’s office denied knowing anything about such a scheme potentially being concocted by Christie, with the Senator noting that she never had any plans of running for mayor in 2013.

Fulop is the overwhelming favorite to retain the mayor’s seat in November, with only former Healy Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis stepping up to the plate to challenge him with the September 5th filing deadline rapidly approaching.

 

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Friday note, attributing Cunningham’s endorsement of Fulop to anonymous sources, and then updated on Saturday after the endorsement took placed.