Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon kicked off his reelection campaign in Hamilton Park on a progressive platform in the midst of a crowd of supporters this afternoon.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The group gathered around the gazebo in Hamilton Park over where a banner read “Still Not for Sale” for speaking portion of the program.
Hudson County Progressive Alliance leader Amy Torres began by crediting Solomon for advancing affordable housing and zoning ordinances, as well as fighting for stronger Airbnb regulations.
She also cited his record on pushing for a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), calling for Hudson County to cancel their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and school equity.
“For years, our municipality has fallen short on fully funding our school district. As a parent advocate, the organization I work with has had numerous conversations with Council members, and James has always been the most receptive, willing to listen and seek long-term solutions,” explained Danielle Walker, of the tenants association for the Holland Gardens.
“His dedication to prioritizing the issues of Jersey City public schools is something not only parents, but every stakeholder in Jersey City should appreciate.”
Solomon’s wife, Gabby Ramos-Solomon, said she was proud to be a part of the kickoff as was emotional as she detailed why.
“His goodness even comes through even when he’s in the middle of the fight when he’s up on the dais making a tough vote against a budget that he knows doesn’t reflect the priorities of this city, and he knows that’s he’s voting for you when he’s fighting developers that don’t have your best interest in mind,” she added.
During his own remarks, Solomon noted he fought and beat lymphoma cancer, of which he was diagnosed shortly after his honeymoon and noted friends in the community were very helpful.
He should the life-altering situation motivated him to get involved in local politics and there is still a lot of work to be done.
“In the four years before you had me in that seat, 43 major developers got tax breaks, 14 of them here in Downtown. In the four years I’ve been on the council, how many? Take a guess? Zero. And the three projects that have moved forward, not 43, three projects that have moved forward will each deliver a core infrastructure need of this city,” Solomon asserted.
Solomon recalled his campaign pledge from 2017 to remain independent of the Hudson County political machine and he seemed proud about the fact that that hasn’t changed.
“There’s a dirty little secret about Hudson County: For most of you, the government is incompetent and clumsy. But for the insiders, for the well-connected, it runs like a smooth, well-oiled machine,” Solomon said.
“From stop signs to racial justice, we have delivered for you. And you cannot serve the people, you cannot put them first, if you have sold yourself to the political machine. It is impossible. And I am proud to serve you first every single day.”
He also recalled that has led to some awkward encounters, but the Downtown councilman asserted that he was stuck to his guns regardless.
“A few months after the Airbnb vote, one of the city’s most notorious backroom operators wanted to take me on a tour of the mayor’s office. And he showed me the hardwood floors and the stained glass and the fireplace, and he said, ‘James, this could be yours,'” Solomon said.
“You could be the heir apparent in Jersey City. But there was a catch. He said ‘James resolve your disagreements within the family, quietly, not in public.’ I refused.”
To that end, he said that same operator, who he declined to name, and a developer who had just poured money into a Hoboken super PAC sought his approval for a project that would not have any affordable housing component.
As a result, he again declined to work with them.
“I am not for sale, and neither is our community,” he proclaimed.
While he did not name the developer explicitly, Mack-Cali Property Trust dumped $30,000 into the NJ Community Initiatives super PAC that unsuccessfully sought to oust Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco in 2019, as only HCV reported.
Solomon is slated to face in Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut, who is running with Fulop this time around, in the non-partisan November 2nd munciipal elections.
Among those in attendance were Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro, Ward B council candidate Joel Brooks, at-Large candidate Chris Gadsden, Ward F hopeful Frank “Educational” Gilmore, mayoral candidate Lewis Spears, Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson, and Progressive Democrats of Hudson County leader Hector Oseguera.