In an editorial, Jersey City mayoral challenger Lewis Spears says why he believes “we live in a city where people are afraid of the mayor’s wrath.”
On October 6, the New Jersey Globe noted that should Mayor Steven Fulop win the election next week, he would be the first mayor since Frank Hague to serve three terms.
I believe that the comparison is apt, because from all reports in order to win three elections, Frank Hague exercised tight control over the city, the kind of control that we are experiencing today under the Fulop administration.
We live in a city where people are so afraid of the mayor’s wrath, so scared of what he could do to them if they publicly support someone running against him or one of his candidates, that they are afraid to speak up publicly.
Yes, you read right. People are afraid of Mayor Fulop. This is why he was running unopposed for mayor of Jersey City until I declared my candidacy in May.
Aside from the mud-slinging and, quite frankly, slander poured on almost every candidate running against “Team Fulop,” the most difficult thing about running for office has been the palpable fear that residents have for the Mayor.
Imagine running a campaign with people who support you, who are willing to offer you advice behind closed doors but will not publicly associate their names with your campaign.
Picture the conversation you have with a vendor who is too afraid to print your campaign collateral, despite being offered full price to do so.
Try to fundraise when donors are too afraid to have their names associated with your campaign in an ELEC report.
Nobody I approached when we first launched my campaign wanted to work with us because they were afraid of retribution from Mayor Fulop.
They believe that the office and influence of the mayor will be used to withhold funding and favors from people who publicly disagree with him.
Every independent candidate in this race is running against the “machine.” We’re relying on super volunteers and the power of the people to build campaigns that can get our message out.
And not only are we running against incumbents that have resources that we do not, it’s been incredibly difficult to attract the resources we need for our campaigns.
Team Fulop has a war chest of millions, with contributions from the biggest businesses in the city. They have spent their dollars to dig deep enough to find half-truths and innuendo about practically every independent candidate in this race.
They have used these lies to smear our reputations, bullying us in the media for daring to run for office.
They have even used the city’s official public information channels in this effort, including a spokeswoman who has gone on the record to comment about candidates in this election.
Our democracy was founded on the participation of the people. Residents should have the opportunity to choose the leaders they wish to serve them.
Any person seeking to prevent people from sharing their ideas, from disagreeing with City leadership, or supporting the candidates of their choice, is anti-democratic.
And it is this atmosphere that makes it impossible to move the city forward in a way that benefits all the residents here.
The mayor is too concerned with maintaining his tight grip on the city to listen to input from residents here who have to live with the decisions he recklessly makes.
We cannot afford to mortgage the future of this city on Mayor Fulop’s ambition. Not when so many people around our city feel unseen and unheard, and underserved by this administration.
A rubber stamp in the city council and on all of the other boards and committees that should be working for residents is not democracy. Public office should never be about enforcing the Mayor’s will. It should be about standing for the people that elected you to serve them.
I know that deep love for Jersey City drives every independent candidate to fight against tremendous odds to defend residents’ democratic rights, because it was what made me decide to run for office.
I am also confident that the folks in Jersey City will not fear voting for change. Throughout this campaign, I’ve seen and heard fellow Jersey City residents be brave and vocal in their support.
I have hope that you, the people of Jersey City, will say no to the machine politics that has not served you.
We independent candidates need you to say no to fear, to Mayor Fulop, and his team. We need you to stand with us as we stand with you and send a strong message to the machine: we’re taking our city back.
We need you to say with your vote that you want your voice back, and you want to be heard.
Because I am listening and I hear you. It is time to speak truth to power, without fear.
Jersey City mayoral challenger