Fulop doubles down on his New Jersey reform plan during virtual Town Hall


Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democratic candidate for governor, doubled down on his New Jersey reform plan during a virtual Town Hall last night.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

The mayor began by explaining he wants to have a very detailed, policy-oriented campaign supported by many volunteers.

“If you’re going to change New Jersey you can’t just be speaking in platitudes … We have 800 volunteers. We have close to 25, 26 sitting mayors publicly supportive. 25 or so former mayors. Some big labor organizations publicly out there,” he explained, acknowledging that supporting his campaign is going out on a limb.

“New Jersey is an expensive place to live. One of the primary reasons is the opaqueness of how Trenton operates, how people have monetized different positions there, who they prioritize, and how elections happen. Most of the time, the public doesn’t know these things are happening.”

Fulop raised some eyebrows in political circles when he rolled out his reform plan last month, since he specifically proposed lobbying changes targeting New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chair LeRoy Jones and Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chair Kevin McCabe.

He reiterated his desire to abolish the county organizational line for good, despite being endorsed by the Democratic organizations in Hudson and Warren Counties.

“If elected, I would change this: It disenfranchises voters. I got phone calls over the past week and half over how I could do that … I knew it was the wrong thing, and I said it was a wrong thing,” Fulop asserted.

Fulop noted that his campaign for governor filed an amicus brief in support of U.S. Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-3) federal lawsuit to end the line, which was suspended for Democratic candidates in the June 4th primary but a broader decision has not been made by the courts yet.

Fulop noted his support for ranked-choice voting and participatory budgeting. He also explained that Jersey City has eliminated granting tax abatements to developers and that he opposed the state’s recent changes to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

“We haven’t done a tax abatement in seven-plus years … Jersey City complies with more public records (requests) than any other city,” he argued.

“New Jersey has a unique structure where you have a very few number of people, less than five, and they decide who’s the governor, who’s the speaker, who’s the senate president,” Fulop argued. “These county chair people … have disproportionate influence. They solely decide who gets the better ballot placement.”

He also noted how rare it is for incumbents running with party support to lose re-election bids before again taking aim at Jones and McCabe.

“You have a state chairman who acts as a contract lobbyist … That is a tax on residents every single day … They are either lying to their client or their constituency. Conflicts of interest should be checked.”

He also cited the issues with the contribution limits under Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) guidelines being raised.

“This law needs to be changed. You need a governor who leans into it and makes people accountable. I know a lot of elected people might not like me saying that,” Fulop acknowledged, before calling for no more May municipal elections.

Fulop for Governor 2025 campaign chief counsel Scott Salmon explained they want more transparency and standardization of the ballot across the state’s 21 counties, noting that only about a third of New Jersey municipalities can hold referendums.

Fulop criticized California for having too many referendums annually, noting that some middle ground is needed. He also reiterated that ballot drawing should be done electronically since human error is currently a problem.

“Essex County, with the randomization, every one of their choice candidates received the top spot still. The reason for that is probably because you have this system that is archaic. We would change that.”

Salmon said same day voter registration would also be good to implement, while Fulop said New Jersey’s budget process needs to be reformed, as well as implementing term limits.

“I think it is a healthy thing to force change over. People are usually reluctant to walk away,” the mayor said.

Ian Gonzalez was curious about what Fulop said about the multi-year budgeting process proposed by one of his opponents, former state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“It’s a good idea. If you don’t change the transparency component … you’re going to get a bad budget for multiple years. You need some reform on that,” he argued.

Jersey City Assistant Municipal Prosecutor Ryan Spain questioned his ability to reform the state, given the reluctance of some others from the political class to endorse his proposals.

“  … Historically, they’re just anointed because of the line. They’re incentivized not to speak out against it … That’s the culture,” Fulop said, indicating that many electeds have told him that he has their support, but they can’t come out publicly for political reasons.

“Are you considering any measures like a state constitutional convention or a referendum?” Sean Rafferty asked.

“Reluctant to do, but not unwilling, to do executive orders. Constitutional conventions need to be a real conversation,” Fulop replied.

He added a constitutional convention could address the high cost of living and tax issues in the state.

“I’m probably not making friends by saying this stuff,” the mayor opined.

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