Fulop talks Saleh win, arts & culture trust fund, legal weed, and Biden vs. Trump

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In an interview, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop discussed Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh’s big win last night, the art and culture trust fund ballot question passing, the statewide legalization or marijuana, and former Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to unseat President Donald Trump (R).

“I’m happy for Yousef and I think it speaks to, in the short amount of time, he’s worked really tremendously hard on furthering the agenda that Michael Yun started,” Fulop said in the midst of an Election Day watch party at the Zeppelin Hall Biergarten.

“Obviously it’s tough circumstances for anybody to run a campaign when you lose the incumbent councilman, but Yousef has done a great job.”

Saleh, who was appointed in April after Yun died from complications related to COVID-19, exceeded many people’s expectations by securing 4,846 vote-by-mail ballots and winning the special election by a nearly 4-to-1 margin, as HCV first reported.

Fulop reiterated that Saleh will run on his re-election ticket next year, which now his six incumbents.

The mayor was non-committal on whether or not anyone else from the dais would be joining the team, though it seems that Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano remains another distinct possibility for the time being.

Beyond 2021, Fulop picked up another win of sorts last night when Jersey City voters approved the Arts and Culture Trust Fund – a referendum he had backed after supporting the cause for years, an interesting turn when at one point it looked like COVID-19 may take it off the ballot.

“We worked on that for two-and-a-half years with the arts community and we’re the first in the state to have a trust fund dedicated to supporting non-profits and the arts community and create a class that really drives the local economy,” the mayor explained.

The ballot question passed nearly 2-to-1, with 36,595 yes votes, or 63.62 percent, already tallied from last night, according to the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

Beyond Jersey City, New Jersey voters overwhelming opted to legalize marijuana.

Fulop said that he is awaiting to see what the legislature decides next, but added that he plans on meeting with each council member and seeing where they’d like the local marijuana tax to be allocated.

He reiterated that he would be supportive of allocating some of that revenue to the Jersey City Public Schools, which was first suggest by Councilmen Rolando Lavarro and James Solomon.

“I think that the next step is a conversation with the city council around how Jersey City wants to specifically approach this,” Fulop added.

As the clock neared 9:30 p.m., the mayor admitted that Biden wasn’t faring as well in the early going as most Democrats had hoped for, but remained optimistic about the final outcome.

“I mean … we all are nervous, ya know? Florida’s numbers didn’t look great, and we’re hopeful in North Carolina and Ohio, what you’re seeing now, there’s still some numbers to come back. We’re nervous, but still hopeful,” he explained.

“It looks like it’ll be a long night and probably a long couple weeks until it’s all sorted out.”

As of 11:30 a.m., the Associated Press reports that Biden has 238 electoral votes to Trump’s 213, with Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin still very much in play after the incumbent called the election around 2 a.m. this morning.

As many predicted beforehand, it would appear that this one is heading to the courts sooner than later, reminiscent of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000, before a winner is declared.

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