Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop crushed Lewis Spears by a 2-to-1 margin to win a third term, and while he’ll main a council majority, Ward E Councilman James Solomon was re-elected, Ward F hopeful Frank “Educational” Gilmore upset incumbent Jermaine Robinson, and the Ward B race is still very close.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The incumbent’s fundraising prowess and sophisticated campaign operation was just too much for challenger Spears, a Harvard University alumnus and youth mentor, to overcome in his first bid for public office.
For example, Fulop had $797,613.42 cash on hand in his individual ELEC account, according to his 11-day pre-election report, while Spears had -$1,143.23.
With tonight’s victory, where Fulop got over 20,000 votes and Spears got over 10,000, he is the first Jersey City mayor to get elected to a third term since legendary Democratic party boss Frank Hague.
“If you asked me eight years ago if we’d be able to get a third term, I would’ve told you it hasn’t been done since the 1940s and here we are with the validation for the first time since the 1940s,” he said at his victory party at the Zeppelin Hall Biergarten this evening.
” … There is a time when the voters and the residents approve or disapprove of the things that your doing in Jersey City and in eight years you make some tough decisions: along that way, some people are happy with you, and some people find your decisions challenging. But that’s part of leadership, that’s part of progress, and that’s part of change.”
At one point during his speech, the mayor heard a couple chants of “Fulop for governor!”
Fulop is a very early contender for the 2025 gubernatorial contest, though he has said several times he has not considered running in that race yet.
He had made the rounds to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in the 2017 primary, but ended up not putting his name on the ballot and endorsing eventual winner Phil Murphy, who is in a race that’s too close to call this evening.
Spears was gracious in defeat.
“I want to thank every independent candidate running for office this year. We made this city shake. I am so proud to have campaigned with each of you. I congratulate you because our city government will never look the same after this election. Frank Gilmore, congratulations on your victory tonight!,” he said.
“I hope that Mayor Fulop has heard the people of Jersey City. We were loud today. We want and need change, and we demand to be heard. Congratulations to all the candidates tonight, but the people of Jersey City are paying attention, now more than ever.”
As for Solomon, he won by an even larger margin that the mayor, defeating Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut by about 70 percent to 30 percent.
“The message my community sent is that we need proudly progressive leaders who are independent from real estate developers and the political machine; leaders who are not afraid to fight for what’s right, to put people first and who will speak truth to power,” the councilman, a potential mayoral candidate in 2025, said in a statement.
“To the voters of Ward E, my commitment to this district and our community will never wane, and I am humbled and honored by the faith you’ve put in me. I am forever grateful.”
Hudnut still attended Fulop’s victory party and appeared to be all smiles.
“I’m in a good mood because Steven Fulop was re-elected and I still get to be prosecutor,” he said, Hudnut said, calling Solomon’s re-election a”strange choice” for Ward E voters.
Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson was unable to stave off Gilmore, who had been attacked for his arrest record as a teen and young adult, as well as for not getting vaccinated for COVID-19 until last month.
That didn’t matter though, as Gilmore, bulldozed his way to about 56 percent of the vote in the three-man race, riding high off a reputation of helping troubled youth in recent years. Vernon Richardson, an aide to Fulop, came in a distant third.
At the Biergarten, Robinson called his term on the council “the best four years of his life” and congratulated Gilmore on his victory.
While the Ward B race looks to be about a 200 vote differential, based on preliminary tallies.
Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey called the race in her favor at the event despite the tight margin. The Brooks campaign hasn’t called the election yet.
Brooks, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, declared his candidacy on February and surprised Team Fulop/Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey by getting walking and phone teams organized in short order.
As his grass roots effort grew, so did his campaign war chest, raising $68,024.95 with primarily small donation a la U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) – of course on a much smaller scale.
Finally, in Ward C, for the third election cycle in a row Councilman Rich Boggiano will head to a runoff election, this time taking on upstart challenger Kevin Bing.
All the other wards were decisive wins for the incumbents, with Denise Ridley winning by a margin of about 2-1 in Ward A, Yousef Saleh taking it by roughly 55-37 in Ward D, and all of Council President Joyce Watterman and Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera boasting big wins at-large.
Joining them in the winner’s circle is Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise, who ran on the mayor’s ticket and beat fourth place finisher Chris Gadsden by approximately 4,000 votes.