Jersey City Ward B Councilman John Hallanan squared off with local business owner LeKendrick Shaw and Lincoln High School vice principal Chris Gadsen in a debate designed to help familiarize local voters with the candidates ahead of the November 8 election.
When asked about their connections to Ward B, each candidate was given two minutes to express what the neighborhood meant to them and why they wanted to represent the constituents within it.
“I’m running for the Ward B seat to serve the community by uniting the ward, I feel like within Ward B there’s a tale of two cities.” Shaw said.
“You have those who are on the upward mobility path and are well to do and have their own set of problems and you have those who are on the lower socio-economic path with their own problems and I feel like I can be the mediator within those two groups and I feel like I can unify this ward.”
Gadsen also chimed in with his perspective: “At an early age I was taught that being civically minded, being grounded inside a community is hugely important.”
Hallanan, who was appointed to the seat in June, said that his family has called Jersey City home for many generations.
“I have been a lifelong resident of Jersey City and a lifelong resident of Ward B. My families roots in this city go back broad and deep, I was raised at a young age to love this city,” Hallanan said.
“The whole time I grew up I got to experience things changing here, sometimes they were changing for the good and sometimes they were changing, unfortunately, for the worse but through it all I knew whatever happens here for good or bad it only happens when people are involved.”
When asked if they support the new Jersey City Open Space Tax, which will appear on the November 8 ballot, all three candidates leaned towards supporting it, though Hallanan was the most outspoken on the subject.
This new policy could bring infrastructure to areas in need, but would likely also increase tax on residents.
“We have to make sure we’re investing properly and this is the dedicated fund that would allow that to happen. As for as the exact dollar amount that has been dedicated it, that is something that has to happen once the public gives us the okay it might very well be something the public is dead set against,” Hallanan said.
“Much like the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, which is a one penny tax, this is something that I think can bare relatively rich fruit with a minimal demand on the public so I do support it.”
Gadsen and Shaw both agreed to the ballot if it were of interest to the public, but declined to get into the particulars of the matters since they have not seen the proposed tax at hand.