Jersey City Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise reiterated that she isn’t resigning after facing dozens of calls from residents to do so at last night’s over five-hour meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The meeting, the first since DeGise’s July 19th hit-and-run, saw a massive police presence and number tickets being handed out to all attendees.
Only 190 were allowed inside council chambers, with about another 100 allowed to wait outside where TVs were set up to view the meeting that was taking place just a few feet away.
About 45 minutes into the session, recent 8th District congressional candidate David Ocampo Grajales was the first person who called on DeGise to step down.
“This isn’t about politics, this is about accountability, it’s about what it means to have good government. At issue is a pattern of behavior that paints a picture of someone who doesn’t respect the rule of law,” he said.
“A hit-and-run that took six hours to report, 29 parking tickets, four accidents, two license suspensions, missed court appearances, unpaid debts, and an attempt to use her power and influence to pressure a Hoboken police officer for her own benefit. The rule of law is the cornerstone of our democracy and someone who doesn’t respect that shouldn’t be writing our laws.”
Will Vandenberg also asked for accountability, claiming DeGise was making Jersey City look like “a kangaroo court” for hanging on to her elected post. He was also critical of her former running mates for not asking her to resign, calling them “spineless.”
“This isn’t ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ when you get a lifeline to a political fixer,” Vandenberg added.
Democratic Committeeman Gary Spingarn was highly critical of the Hudson County Democratic Organization as opposed to just DeGise, though said she had to leave due to the longstanding implications here.
“Unchecked power is why we have these problems and enough is enough … This will not blow over because everything is at stake,” he stated.
“We’ve been served with lies about a bump to the head. We have the full scope of how the Councilwoman feels she is above the law,” said Adam Cohen, who pointed out that he renewed the registration on his car during COVID and it took him five minutes.
“Without even an apology to the cyclist. Instead, we see attacks on the press coverage. The councilwoman should resign immediately,” he stated to applause.
About 50 people called on DeGise to step down during the four-and-a-half hour public comment session, which also included fellow teacher Christina Varriale.
“That video was jarring and very hard to watch. What example would I want to set for my students? You left a human being on the street and didn’t check to see if he was ok,” though she also expressed sympathy for DeGise and commended her for attending.
Bike JC President Ayla Schermer noted that as a biker, she thought DeGise’s hit and run were “especially distressing.”
While the majority who took the podium were against DeGise, she had eight people speak in her favor.
James Francis Waddleton alleged those who signed the change.org petition calling for her resignation are bots and denounced UberEats driver Andrew Black for running a red light, solely laying the crash at his feet.
“We voted for Amy DeGise, she got 16,000 votes or something, if you want the seat, you should get 16,001 … This is mob mentality!,” he exclaimed.
The next speaker, Harsimus Cove Association President Eleana Little was quick to respond to that speaking personally.
“A hit-and-run is a felony and running a red light is a traffic infraction,” she said to applause, also claiming that by leaving Black bleeding on the street it showed that DeGise believes “a different set of rules apply to her.”
Claire Seborowski also defended DeGise, pointing to her long track record of civic service and asking for justice to play out.
“She is dedicated to this job and wholeheartedly loves Jersey City. People are entitled to the court process without public shaming. Those who know Amy know who she is. Let Amy go through the court process,” she said to applause.
Edward Reep, a Hoboken Republican, also blamed Black, calling him “a maniac” who ran a red light.
“Driving has a lot of split-second decisions. Amy DeGise was doing nothing wrong until this maniac ran the light. There should not be a moral implication to this, it was an honest mistake … The hate is wrong, the vitriol is wrong.”
David Guirgis was passionate and succinct in his call for DeGise to step down.
“The fact of the matter is you almost killed one of us and here we are begging you to resign,” he said.
Finally, around 11 p.m. after public comment concluded, with 66 no shows about 152 people signed up, DeGise unexpectedly addressed the crowd.
“July 19th and the weeks that have followed have been some of the most difficult and traumatic times of my entire life. I am grateful no one was seriously injured. But there is a court process … that needs to be respected. I need to take the advice of attorneys,” she said.
She also said the threats against her went beyond death threats, with vulgar messages calling for her to get raped and kill herself also coming through regularly since the hit-and-run incident.
“I would like to deal with this privately, but it has gotten vulgar. I am appreciative of everyone who came out tonight … I hope no one here is subject to this amount of trauma. I am not resigning. My commitment is genuine,” she said to applause.
This morning, Ward E Councilman James Solomon renewed his call for DeGise to vacate her seat.
“I am heartened by the many Jersey City residents who expressed their anger last night at Councilmember DeGise’s refusal to take accountability for her actions after hitting a cyclist and fleeing the scene,” he said in a statement.
“I am disappointed that once again, my colleague has chosen herself over her constituents by failing to acknowledge her role in a crime we all witnessed and refusing to resign. Amy DeGise represents the entire city as Councilmember-At-Large, and we as her constituents deserve better.”