A progressive slate of Hudson County challengers, six running for commissioner and one for county executive, hosted their first team fundraiser at Brightside Tavern in Jersey City on Saturday evening.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
TJ Senger, running for county commissioner in the 1st District said that county government shouldn’t be just about doing favors for friends, referencing what he called an affordable housing crisis in Bayonne.
His running mate in the 2nd District, Adrian Ghainda, said this was the “unbossed” slate who cares about residents and effective policies.
“There’s no transparency: Hudson County has a lot of money, where is it going? Check out their website, you’ll get the answer – question mark. There’s no answer, 35 minutes I spent to figure out the budget, I could not find it,” stated District 4 county commissioner candidate Mamta Singh.
She suggested that the county should be proactively sending out a newsletter during budget season so that taxpayers know how their dollars are being spent.
Ron Bautista, the only candidate with a rematch on his hands against County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), highlighted that the current board supported an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before it was phased out at the end of 2021.
“The other side doesn’t really care about immigrant families, and I’ve got to tell you, that’s a personal spot for me. I was born in Ecuador and I’ve been in Hoboken for 23 years … I’ve got to tell you, she’s [my mother] 5,000 on the list for affordable housing in Hoboken,” he said.
“And some people may say ‘well just move somewhere else where it’s more cheaper.’ But it’s where her home is.”
Stephanie Martinez, seeking the county commissioner seat in the 8th District, which is North Bergen and a small section of Secaucus, cited her parents as her inspiration to want to create some good in her neighborhood.
Alex Valdez, running in the 9th District, which is mostly West Hudson, said he became motivated to run after sitting down with Bautista about effectuating change at the county level.
Closing out the program was Eleana Little, who is taking on Craig Guy, the chief of staff to outgoing Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, to likely determine who his successor will be.
Little began by asking the 35 or so on hand to raise their hands if their rent and property taxes had gone up during the COVID-19 pandemic, to which nearly everyone did, and she said this was an example of an affordability crisis.
“We’re not seeing real action being taken on it, so, from the taxes standpoint, like Mamta alluded to, it’s not clear how your county tax dollars are being spent. Although, I can tell you if you’ve gotten a few glossy mailers on my opponent, they’ve been spent there.”
She also said that this team has pledged to have 10,000 non-profit units to be built via community land trust over the next decade if elected.
This is the first time progressives are challenging the majority of the seats up in a Democratic primary, facing stiff tests against the
For example, Guy has raised over $300,000, and already has the endorsement of Gov. Phil Murphy (D), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), and the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
While Board Chair Anthony Vainieri is running for municipal commissioner instead of county commissioner the North Bergen-centric 8th District, Martinez will face Bob Baselice, the head of the township parking authority who will have the local party’s backing.
Last time there was a race for an open seat, the North Bergen Democratic Committee was key in delivering Vainieri a roughly 83-17 victory in the 2014 primary.
Like Bautista, Little ran in the last election cycle, losing to eventual County Commissioner Yraida-Aponte Lipski in 2020 by 710 votes in the 4th District.
Singh will look to avenge that loss, with Ward E Councilman James Solomon’s involvement key to making that race another barnburner on June 6th.
Although the Downtown councilman didn’t make it out on Saturday, Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore and state Senate candidate Michael Griffin did.
Furthermore, Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello, a declared challenger to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in next year’s primary, made his first appearance into enemy territory as he looks to take the fight to the senior senator on his home turf.
We need new blood. Taxes are through the roof, and the only change they can bring is new buildings for themselves. The same people (or their spouses and associates) continue to enjoy the perks of the Hudson County government club (health care, cars, etc.) Vanieri, Cifelli, and Romano have been there for over 15 years. O’Dea is the only one who thinks for himself and should really be the County Executive, instead of “fixer” Craig Guy who has never held elected office before. I hope voters give these new people a chance.