Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and the city council were sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at City Hall this evening, which was followed by a reorganization meeting where Joyce Watterman was selected to serve another term as council president.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Former City Clerk Robert Bryne served as the master of ceremonies for the roughly hour-long event, which saw Fulop get sworn in for a third term – the first mayor to do so since Frank Hague did in 1945.
Fulop’s council slate won seven of nine contested races, which included Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise.
She was joined by her aunt Lois Shaw, who was instrumental in repealing Jersey City’s ban on women in bars when she sat on the council in 1974, while her father, County Executive Tom DeGise – a former Jersey City Council president – watched on from the audience.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who ran independently and won handily in November, was sworn in for his second term by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Carlo Abad, as his wife Gaby and his daughters Camila and Corinne showed their support at the podium.
Additionally, Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore, who unseated Jermaine Robinson, was sworn in by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mark Baber – the same judge who oversaw his case in juvenile court 25 years ago.
Since then, Gilmore has turned his life around and has become a well-known youth mentor and coach that has amassed a significant local following before running for a city council seat.
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh, succeeding the late Michael Yun, was elected to his first full term in November after winning a special election last year.
Otherwise, Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera, and Watterman were sworn in for their third terms, while Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley and Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey are beginning their second terms in office.
Watterman was sworn in by Municipal Court Judge Nadine Kilibreu, who said a few remarks on her behalf.
“She’s a Jersey City native who grew up on the West Side in an area that does not often form those who are blessed to have this type of career,” she said.
“She made history in 2020 when she became Jersey City’s first African American woman appointed as city council president.”
Following the council’s oath of offices, Fulop was sworn in by Newark Councilman Anibal Ramos. Fulop had administered the oath of office to new Edison Mayor Sam Joshi and Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese earlier in the day.
“I promise you Jersey City the same thing that I promised eight years ago: that I won’t be a perfect mayor, but I never ever will embarrass you, and I’ll work tirelessly to always make you proud.”
“The next four years will be viewed through the lens of what we learned from COVID and what we did to help our city and its residents regain their footing since the pandemic started. That’s the challenge, and that’s the test we’re facing,” he continued.
“Did we help those school children that lost learning during the pandemic catch up to where they need to be? Did we help those workers that needed to be trained in new skills find their way? Did we connect with families struggling to find affordable housing and resources? Did we help those entrepreneurs on the brink of failure who invested their entire life in their business?”
During the council’s reorganization meeting that followed, Acting Business Administrator John Metro saw her interim title removed by a 7-0(2) with Gilmore and DeGise abstaining, citing their inability to speak to anyone regarding his appointment.
Additionally, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director Walter “Greg” Kierce had his acting capacity removed for the Department of Public Works. That vote was 6-0(3), with Solomon joining DeGise and Gilmore in abstaining. They reiterated their previous reason for doing so.
“What is the plan with OEM with Director Kierce remaining in charge of both divisions?Could you walk us through your process?,” Solomon asked Metro.
“Director Kierce will be heavily involved with the OEM process. We’ve been working with him to take a look at the staffing there and rebuild a stronger team. He will have the oversight on it, but we are going to restructure in a way that’s … under his direction,” Metro response.
Nevertheless, Solomon did not believe there was not enough time to fully explore the issue and abstained, noting that priorities such as tree removal have been neglected in recent memory, as well as expressing concern that important issues like storm preparedness may not get the attention they deserve.
Finally, the short meeting concluded with Watterman being named council president again unanimously (9-0), while Rivera was selected for another term as president pro tempore by the same vote tally.
Chief News Correspondent John Heinis contributed to this report.