In a rare sight in Hudson County politics, Republicans Matthew Kopko and Ivan Sutherland made their voices heard at an anti-violence rally in Jersey City yesterday, with Sutherland exclaiming that longtime Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise “needs to go.”
“Unfortunately, if you stop any of these individuals who are committing crime and you ask them why they’re doing it [they say]: ‘I gotta make money man. I gotta take care of myself. I’m doing my business. What are you doing?'” said Sutherland, the Republican Hudson County Executive nominee.
“Just hearing that should send chills up and down anyone’s spine: that this person whose committing this type of crime is justifying it by saying it’s a business. By saying he has to take care of his turf. Saying he has to protect himself.”
Sutherland, who earlier stated that the county needs to make more jobs available for the youth, later added that “people are afraid in general” and there needs to be more solutions provided besides more police and jails.
The long shot candidate who ran unopposed in the June 2 primary also called on the people “to take their politicians to task” when the situation calls for it.
“I’ll do something a little different: I’m going to say that the people need to be more involved in that they need to take their politicians to task. They need to be in their face, not only during election time, [when] you ask ‘what are you gonna do for me?’ You should ask ‘what are you doing for me now?'”
After noting that those in the private sector are fired when they don’t do their job, Sutherland, a lawyer, concluded by stating DeGise has had 16 years to make positive changes and has failed.
“I’m running for county executive, but I’m telling you that if I’m not doing my job, fire me! That’s what your not hearing from anybody else. So the man that’s been here for 16 years, he’s still waiting to see what’s gonna happen, guess what: he needs to go.”
“He’s had 16 years to do something and he has not done it.”
The Democratic DeGise also coasted in the primary, facing no opposition and receiving endorsements from all 12 Hudson County mayors.
Meanwhile, Kopko, the Republican District 31 Assembly nominee, said he was “so proud to be a very small part of this awesome movement,” speaking about unity, opportunity and justice.
“It seems like momentum is building, people are finally getting organized, and I’m just … so proud and excited this is happening,” he said, explaining the Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition held a community event that was well attended on Friday night.
“Some of the struggles that we face, I really do believe is because we do not have notched an economic engine out here to keep people aspired to have great careers – to keep people busy during the days and during the night time.”
Kopko also expressed an interest in “inundating the area” with training programs, such as free vocational training, for those people that have their eyes set on goals that may not necessarily involve college.
Towards the end of his speech, he added “when people feel like the criminal justice system does not treat everyone equally and fairly, people stop respecting the rules – and for good reason. You can’t just pry on someone and say ‘I understand you feel structurally aggrieved, but come and play by our rules.'”
A spokesman from the DeGise campaign did not return an email seeking comment on Sunday.