While Election Day in 2021 is over 19 months away, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop named five incumbent council members as his running mates at his campaign kickoff last night.
“I’m running next year for re-election, we are gonna be running with a full slate, and some of those members on the city council have been there since the beginning, some of them the last couple years, but the ones that are here tonight with us make everything that we do possible,” Fulop said in front of hundreds of supporters at the Chandelier Restaurant in Bayonne.
“It wouldn’t be possible without their hard work.”
For those following local politics closely, the announcements the mayor made came as no surprise.
Council President Joyce Watterman, Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, Councilman-at-Large Danny Rivera, and Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson all committed to rejoining the Fulop team in 2021.
“To see so many faces that were here in 2017, and back here again, we really appreciate your support. We’re a team and we believe in moving Jersey City forward,” Ridley said at the podium.
Watterman, selected as the first female African American council president by her colleagues last month, was particularly enthusiastic when pledging her support to Fulop.
“Our mayor got it going on: you better say it – our mayor really got it going on. Our mayor got it going on. No, no, no, you don’t understand: our mayor’s got it going on,” she exclaimed to shouting and applause.
“What I like about working with Steve though is really that, you know what, he’s a visionary. And if you like to do things different you need a visionary.”
In an interview, Fulop said each slate mate announced have been good advocates in their wards that have been helpful in moving the city forward, looking forward to continuing the progress that began when he was first elected in 2013.
One unexpected cameo in the crowd came from Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, often recognized as a staunch critic of the mayor in the past.
Between that, and a suddenly cordial relationship with Ward D Councilman Michael Yun, the mayor was non-committal – though still open – about them joining the slate.
“I don’t know. I think as the years have gone by, I think I’ve grown and I’ve certainly gotten more mature in how I deal with different relationships that are both for and against me, for and against our agenda, more specifically,” he began.
“I’m grateful that Rich and I have a good working relationship right now and we’re working for some really important things in Journal Square and it’s more important that we find common ground that we continue to progress going forward.”
Someone that Fulop hasn’t been on the same page with in recent months is Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro, currently viewed as a likely mayoral challenger after running on Fulop’s team in 2013 and 2017.
When asked about Lavarro’s potential candidacy, the incumbent seemed to be unphased about squaring off with a former political ally.
“He’s entitled to run it’s a free country … he can do what he wants. I don’t really follow what his platform would being that he was an advocate for six years but, that said, anybody’s entitled to run – that’s part of the process and it makes a better dialogue and a better city as a result of that. It’s fine.”
Other dignitaries that showed their support included County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado, Assembly members Angela McKnight, Nick Chiaravalloti (both D-31) and, Raj Mukherji (D-33), as well as Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.
The Fulop campaign said after the event that they were optimistic they had raised at least $200,000 for the Team Fulop 2021 account, on top of Fulop’s individual account which has over $1 million cash on hand.