Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop appeared before parishioners again to answer questions from Jersey City Together on how he and the city will resolve long standing issues on affordable housing, public safety and education funding.
Tanisha Johnson, who lives in an apartment complex near the Holland Tunnel, told the roughly 500 congregants who gathered at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church that the building has a severe mouse infestation â€“ claiming that she trapped 17 mice in her apartment in one day.
She turned to the mayor, pointed her finger at him, and asked him to imagine being in her shoes.
â€œWhat Iâ€™m going to do is turn to my mayor, as he listens to my story â€¦ I want you and me to trade places. Come and stay at my house. I need you to help us fix this,â€ said Johnson.
In response, Fulop lamented Ms. Johnsonâ€™s dilemma.
â€œWhen individuals come up here to tell their story, those of you who know me, know that I certainly internalize that and I take that stuff very personally,â€ the mayor began.
â€œTo me, this is more than a job, itâ€™s a responsibility to be entrusted with. When people talk about some of the things theyâ€™ve talked about, I view it as a failure on multiple fronts, but at the end of the day, Iâ€™m held accountable for it.â€
Jersey City Together, an organization of more than 35 religious congregations and non-profits, said that yesterdayâ€™s event is a prelude to more activism in 2019 that will include a sit-down with Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
At that meeting, the group hopes to extract commitments from the governor, particularly that the state will play a leading role in creating more affordable housing and gun safety measures.
Jessica Lambert, pastor of St. Lutheranâ€™s Church in Jersey City, had an opportunity to ask the mayor if he would commit to reducing the cityâ€™s growing education funding gap in light of â€œdraconian cutsâ€ from the state.
â€œNow that the payroll tax has been passed, are you confident that the city will be ready to collect it by the time the $25 million will be cut, and the district has to pass a budget by April, and second, if the payroll tax does get struck down in a lawsuit or is in some other way delayed, can you commit to putting down a plan to cover that gap,â€ asked Lambert.
The mayor said that education funding will be the single biggest issue for his administration for the remainder of his second term.
â€œItâ€™s not just next year. Itâ€™s a multi-year process. Next year is really when the framework needs to be put in place that will be executed on multiple years, he explained.
â€œBecause nothing else that I want to do over the next three years of this term is to fix the school funding issue. So you have my commitment.â€
The event streamed live to our Facebook Page and can be viewed below: