In front of a crowd of 300, former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell kicked off his mayoral run last night by blistering incumbent Jimmy Davis and Business Administrator Joe DeMarco.
After friends and family gave him a warm introduction, O’Donnell, a lifelong Bayonne resident, recalled scrapping with Gov. Chris Christie (R) down in Trenton, saying now it’s time to fight “for the city we all love.”
He wasted little time in going after the Davis administration, criticizing them “for out of control spending,” best exhibited by giving long-term tax breaks to out of town developers.
The Davis administration have justified giving our 25- and 30-year tax abatements by saying they create much needed ratables as the city creates new revenue streams.
While he didn’t get explicit, O’Donnell also hammered Davis for his recent sexting scandal involving a former City Hall employee.
“His irresponsible conduct is an embarrassment to our community and is not befitting the office of mayor. We should expect and we deserve better from our elected leaders,” O’Donnell exclaimed.
“What kind of example has our mayor set for out children? The fact remains that Mayor Davis’ action have left him open to a federal civil rights investigation: creating hostile work environments, sexual harassment and retaliation – which if found to be true would cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.”
As Hudson County View first reported in May, Davis is accused of sending sexually explicit texts to a City Hall employee both during his campaign for mayor and shortly after he took office.
That former employee, Stacie Percella, has also called for Davis’ resignation, but the mayor’s re-election campaign has dismissed the texts as “harmless, playful banter” between two longtime friends, as well as a scheme to make millions of dollars through a lawsuit.
The retired firefighter also discussed a few policy initiatives, such as implementing a municipal finance committee to examine the city’s budget, opening the door to take a swing at DeMarco.
“We will commission a municipal finance committee to commission the city’s budget, to make recommendations as to how we solve our city’s fiscal woes. We don’t need a part-time Somerset County lawyer controlling our financial future,” stated O’Donnell.
“I promise you that in a city of 65,000 people, we can find plenty of residents who are more qualified to handle Bayonne’s finances: hell, out here right now.”
At the end of his speech, O’Donnell questioned what Davis has actually accomplished in the past three-plus years.
“Ask yourself this: has your quality of life gotten better under this administration? Do you feel safe as you walk our city streets? Are those streets clean? Do you feel Mayor Davis has been open and honest working for all of Bayonne’s residents?,” he asked to a chorus of nos.
“And do you believe this administration has the intelligence and the drive to lead our community forward? Well if you answered no to any of that, then join us, there is a better way.”
Predictably, Davis’ campaign wasn’t impressed with O’Donnell’s remarks.
“This was a completely negative speech and a poor start for O’Donnell. The room was full of out of towners shipped in by the Laborers Union and had very few Bayonne residents,” said Davis campaign consultant Paul Swibinski.
“And his newly discovered opposition to economic development initiatives used by successful cities is pure hypocrisy.”
Those in attendance included Union County Sheriff Joe Cryan, ex-Assemblyman/Union City Mayor Rudy Garcia, former Mayor Smith Council members Terrence Ruane, Debbie Czerwienski, Joe Hurley and Agnes Gillespie, ex-Jersey City Councilman Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal, previous Jersey City Democratic Organization Chair Shawn “Sully” Thomas Sullivan, Jersey City Education Association operative Kristen Zadroga Hart, among many others.
Davis’ campaign kickoff is tonight at The Chandelier Restaurant.