Running for Jersey City council-at-large, Gadsden calls for independent leadership at fundraiser

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Jersey City Council-at-Large candidate Chris Gadsden called on voters to elect independent leadership at the municipal level during a fundraiser at the Brightside Tavern last night.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“People are sick and tired of the status quo. People are sick and tired of machine politics,” Gadsden said, recalling being in a room with politicos in 2017 when he decided not to run with Mayor Steven Fulop.

He was the Ward B council representative at the time.

“I’m not running with you Steve because of the fact that you lie. When you tell me one lie, that’s all it took. I don’t trust your politics, I don’t trust your approach, I don’t trust how you handle Jersey City so I’m not going to be on the ticket,” Gadsden recalled saying.

In a move that appeared to surprise many of the few dozen in attendance, Gadsden asked Ward E Councilman James Solomon, mayoral candidate Lewis Spears, along with council hopefuls Pedro Figueroa in Ward A, Joel Brookes in Ward B, and Frank “Educational” Gilmore in Ward F – as well as fellow at-large candidates Elvin Dominici and June Jones – to join him during his remarks.

Gadsden said that he began working with Solomon on the concept of civilian complaint review boards in the wake of Police Officer Kenneth Bowes fatally shooting Lavon King in 2014.

He indicated that Black leadership in the city was not eager to speak up and address the situation at the time.

“I had to go to a man who’s been fighting for housing. Nobody on the south side currently right now is fighting for rent control. People are being displaced out of their homes. We have a moratorium about to be lifted and you’re going to see homelessness like you never saw it before.”

Gadsden then praised Solomon for his work on affordable housing and cannabis policies, specifically commending him in terms of addressing the harms of a “fake war on drugs.”

Gilmore noted that he’s been friends with Gadsden for years and recalled his decision to run as an independent during the previous election cycle.

“In my heart I just don’t feel right, running with people that aren’t authentic, running with people that aren’t for the people,” he recalled Gadsden saying.

“That’s the same thing I was going to say, I just wanted him to say it. I know that he’s always going to vote in the interest of the people no matter what.”

When it was his turn to speak, Solomon was happy to reciprocate the praise for Gadsden.

“There are so many decisions made behind closed doors, so many calls that you get from powerful political bosses. And there’s not a single person in Jersey City that I want making those decisions for me and my family more than Chris Gadsden … His integrity and character are unmatched in this city.”

Community advocate Amy Wilson, who served as the emcee for the evening, noted that when Gadsden was the Ward B Councilman, he held office hours at a laundromat, which reflects his approachability.

“This is a city where increasingly if you don’t make like $200,000, you’re getting locked out of everything in the city. And here’s a guy who’s bringing his family’s laundry down to a laundromat, doing the laundry and talking to constituents at the same time,” she said.

The roughly hour-long program also saw remarks from Progressive Democrats of Hudson County President Ron Bautista, Acting Public School No. 39 Principal Tyrone Banks, and Hudson County Progressive Alliance Amy Torres.

“We have a mayor who would rather spend his summers in another state than here at home. Even when some of our communities are experiencing such a crisis that within 72 hours of mourning a life lost, another life is lost,” Torres said.

While he arrived late, Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro, also a Ward B resident, also came to show his support for Gadsden. He remains undecided on what his plans for the November 2nd municipal elections are.

Fulop is running a full slate that is well funded and features seven incumbents, with Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut running in Ward E and Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise running at-large.