Jersey City youth mentor and author Lewis Spears has been certified to challenge Mayor Steven Fulop, who welcomed him to the race with an attack over previously being registered as Republican for 11 years.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Our journey to City Hall is officially underway. I want to thank every volunteer on the Spears campaign for working so hard to accomplish this milestone. I want to thank every person in Jersey City who filled out a petition to support this run. Together, we have created history!,” Spears said in a statement.
“I decided to run because I wanted to give all of the people of Jersey City another option—different ideas for a shared vision for our great city. I want every child in this city to see that someone who was born and grew up here can indeed lead it. The response has been overwhelming so far, and I remain grateful for every opportunity Jersey City has afforded me, including this opportunity to run for leadership.”
The new candidate, 37, also touted being the youngest African American to seek the city’s highest elected municipal office.
However, just six minutes after his campaign announcement, the New Jersey Globe reported that Spears was a registered Republican between 2006 and 2017 before switching to the Democratic party in 2019.
Fulop campaign spokesman Phil Swibinski was quick to go on offensive, sending out a statement just 14 minutes after the report was published, denouncing Spears as “a fake progressive.”
“Lewis Spears has been exposed as a fake progressive who aligned himself with the Republican Party for most of his adult life, including throughout both of President Obama’s terms and even into the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and plunged our country into four years of chaos, cruelty, mismanagement and corruption,” he asserted.
“The more residents learn about Republican Lewis Spears the clearer it will become that he’s nothing but a front for special interests that are more concerned with lining their own pockets than with delivering for Jersey City — he’s clearly not who he says he is.”
In response, Spears said that in recent years he’s voted for Democrats in President Barack Obama, Gov. Phil Murphy, and even Fulop and said the incumbent and his team should focus on the issues.
” … I can say that just like Mayor Fulop, I voted for President Obama, Governor Murphy. In fact, I even voted for Mayor Fulop. I remain committed to running a campaign that is about the issues Jersey City residents face today—lack of affordable housing, inequitable training and education, and safety in our city,” he said.
“If this is how Mayor Fulop’s camp is trying to win votes in our city, I would rather see him share his plan to address the issues we are all struggling with, in what would be his third term. In fact, all of the noise around me being a ‘fake progressive’ is just that, noise designed to distract from an election that should be centered around the needs, and the voices, of our residents.”
Fulop and Spears are more than likely set for a one-on-one contest for the next nine weeks, though the Jersey City Clerk’s Office notes that Alexander Buda and Dwayne Baskerville pulled petitions of nomination for mayor.
In order to make the ballot, they’d have to submit 1,680 valid signatures by 4 p.m. today. The non-partisan Jersey City municipal elections are on November 2nd.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a response from Jersey City mayoral candidate Lewis Spears.