Jersey City Ward E council candidate James Solomon has vowed to help reform development if elected to the governing body on November 7th.
“I’m really excited to run for office for the first time. I think Jersey City is an amazing place, it’s something that I hear from all the residents that I talk to, but I also think that we can do better,” Solomon said during an interview outside City Hall on Thursday.
“We need sort of progressive, independent leadership and then we can reform things like development in the city, think about our long-term infrastructure plan and just sort of represent people from an unbought and unbossed basis and that’s why I’m running.”
Solomon is previously known as the man spearheading the Evict Trump-Kushner movement, a group adamantly against seeing any projects associated with Jared Kushner – President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor – from profiting in Jersey City.
Also a professor at New Jersey City University and Hudson County Community College, he told Hudson County View why he thought this movement was an important one to pursue.
“We simply said that if you attack Jersey City, you shouldn’t be able to profit off of us. And we do believe that President Trump, and his son-in-law Jared, did so – especially during the campaign when the lied about Muslims celebrating 9/11,” explained Solomon.
While the candidate said he would leave the group if elected, “the issues that animated my work” would continue.
“We would be looking at how do we use our local power to resist President Trump? How do we fight for progressive values locally and make Jersey City a true sort of model for what a progressive, just city can be,” he added.
Solomon further stated that while Ward E issues, such as fixing potholes and keeping streets cleaning, would be his top priority, he feels it is important to keep national issues in mind since people “staying in their lane” is what got Trump elected last fall.
As previously noted, Solomon was emboldened by the fact he was able to submit 583 petitions for nomination to the Jersey City Clerk’s Office last week, feeling that his grassroots approach to this campaign is what separates him from the rest of the field.
The Ward E race will likely be the most competitive one in the Jersey City municipal races, as at least six candidates have already announced their intentions to run.
While it’s still early, since the deadline to submit petitions for nomination isn’t until September 5th, so far only Solomon and Rebecca Symes have done so.
As far as pressing issues go, Solomon also said that reforming development will be his top priority if elected, another aspect of his campaign he feels makes him stand out from the crowd.
“One issue we want to focus on is development and reforming that process. And to me that looks like three things: First, we want the community to have the greatest say and the greatest voice in development decisions – not developers,” he began.
“Second, we need long-term infrastructure planning. I think as a city, we have engaged in too much short-term thinking. And finally, tax abatements: we have given out over 70 in the last four years, over 30 are long term, and I think if you go down and dig into the numbers, we gave way too much to developers and got way too little in return.”
Finally, when asked if he agreed being labeled an “anti-Fulop candidate,” Solomon said he thought such a characterization was misconstrued.
“I disagree with it: I’m trying to run as an independent, free from the new machine and the old machine. But it’s no secret I have some disagreements with the mayor,” he stated.
“I certainly think he’s done good things: making the police force more diverse, the sanctuary city executive order he signed: I thought those were great things. But on this issue of development, I do think that we need fundamental, substantive reform that hasn’t been delivered over the last four years.”