Who’s the next mayor? Profiles of the three JC mayoral candidates

Jerramiah Healy, Alfred Marc Pine, and Melissa Holloway – yes, there are only three candidates running for mayor of Jersey City in this year’s municipal election on May 10.

This week, the Jersey City Reporter profiles the trio who want to run New Jersey’s second largest city.

Current mayor Healy, a former municipal judge, has been running the city since November, when he was elected to fill out the rest of late Mayor Glenn Cunningham’s term. Now he is running for a four-year term.

Pine, a licensed non-practicing attorney, ran in the November special election and finished 10th out of 11 candidates. But he managed to gather nearly 2,100 petition signatures to be placed on the ballot in this year’s mayoral election – more signatures than Healy and the most of any candidate running this year for mayor or council.

Former City Councilwoman Holloway, back in November, was only a few months removed from a return to her hometown of Jersey City from California, and supporting the campaign of then mayoral candidate Manzo. She announced her run in interviews to local newspapers in January. However, it has been anything but smooth for Holloway, as she has to deal with being certified as a candidate with just barely more than the minimum 1,197 petitions. Healy’s lawyers challenged some of those petitions, resulting in Holloway going through three courts before being placed back on the ballot by the state Supreme Court on April 19.

Healy has the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and a nearly $1 million war chest. Then again, nothing is guaranteed, as evidenced by Healy pulling the surprise win in November.Jerramiah Healy – ‘Team Healy 2005’

Born in 1950, Jerramiah Healy is the fourth of five children raised by his mother as a single parent after his father passed away when Healy was 5.

Healy attended Catholic elementary and high school before enrolling at Villanova University in Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1972, and then attended Seton Hall University School of Law.

Healy became an assistant prosecutor for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in 1977, where he remained until October 1981. From 1981 to 1991, he maintained a private law practice handling criminal defense, real estate, personal injury, and landlord/tenant matters. Also during this time, he worked as an assistant corporation counsel for the City of Jersey City.

In 1991, Healy was appointed chief judge in the Jersey City Municipal Court by former Mayor Gerald McCann, and was reappointed by former Mayor Bret Schundler to a second term in 1995.

In November of 1996, Healy ended his tenure as chief judge when he decided to run against Bret Schundler in the 1997 election. Healy lost, resumed a private legal practice, and was elected to the City Council in 2001.

Healy resides in the Jersey City Heights with his wife Maureen, a registered nurse at Jersey City P.S. 12. The couple has four children: Jeremiah, Susanne, Catherine, and Patrick. The issues

With Jerramiah Healy, what you hear is what you get.

During a half-hour interview with the current mayor last Wednesday, Healy reiterated the core issues he ran on during the November 2004 election: Combating crime, fixing potholes, and improving the once fractious relationship between city and county government.

“I would like to finish the job that I started. I want to make this city a great city, the next Wall Street West,” said Healy. “I feel very much in control and I am confident to continue what I set out to do when took over as mayor.”

Healy says he now has a City Council that works together. “I have been able to put in place many policies because the City Council has worked with me to make them happen,” said Healy. “Implementing the business curfew, the gun buy-back program, and most recently the capital improvements bonds.”

The City Council approved at their April 13 council meeting the issuing of over $30 million in bonds to make improvements to the city’s water supply and for general improvement of the city, from the renovation of the city’s parks to the acquisition of the new equipment for the city’s Public Works department.

Healy also wants to continue in office to see the paving of many of the city’s streets that is slated to start later this spring/early summer.

But the mayor’s bread-and-butter issue has been fighting crime, and he plans to do more of the same, starting with more police officers.

“There’s the need to hire more cops, and we want to have at least 900 police officers while I am mayor,” said Healy. “I hope to have 35 more cops from our police academy at the end of June. But it takes a while to get a new group on patrol, since it is six months of training that officers undergo at the academy as well as three months of being subjected to background checks.”

Healy also pointed out that at least 50 police officers have joined the Jersey City Police Department since he became mayor in November, as well as transfers from other police departments in the state. But the JCPD has also lost between 25 and 30 officers to retirement, Healy said.

Healy also praised the gun buy-back program, “Operation Lifesaver” that he and Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson initiated in January that led to a total of 897 guns brought into seven locations across the city in exchange for $115,725 in cash. And the anti-gang task force that since the beginning of this year has led to numerous arrests of gang members across the city.

The mayor also has been pleased so far with the business curfew that started in March.

“The places where the curfew is in effect had been hotspots for gang and drug activity, and we wanted to improve the quality of life in these business areas,” said Healy.

Healy has made it a goal of his tenure in City Hall to improve the quality of life in Jersey City as he hopes to initiate an anti-litter campaign if he is re-elected to a four-year term. Ethics

But he has also taken a step toward improving the quality of life among the city’s employees and in city government overall. That comes in the form of an executive order that Healy issued on April 14 that would establish a code of conduct among city employees, and an ordinance submitted to the City Council at last week’s City Council meeting to re-establish the city’s Ethical Standards Board to enforce the city’s code of ethics.

The ordinance is expected to go into effect by early June.

“I don’t have to tell you with all the indictments that our Attorney General [Christopher] Christie has made in the past couple of years [in nearby towns] that we need to have an ethical government,” said Healy. “I don’t want any employees to have a job in the city and then work for someone else.”

Healy was asked about his campaign receiving thousands of dollars in donations from the law firm, the demolition company and engineering firm working on behalf of the owner of the historic 111 First St. building, where tenants were evicted in January after a nearly year-long struggle with the owner who wanted to demolish the building and which city officials have announced they would protect from any such action. The donations aren’t illegal, but should the donations have been accepted?

“They giving money to me does not sway my decision on the building,” Healy said. “Many people give donations to a campaign that they feel is successful. And they give donations to a number of candidates not only locally, but across the state.”

Healy has accumulated over $775,000 for his campaign, according to financial reports filed with the state’s election commission on April 11. And as of the end of last week, the amount may be near $1 million, as there was another fundraiser on Tuesday for the mayor and the candidates running on his ticket.

There is also speculation that Healy may step down from the mayor’s office immediately if he is re-elected and accept a position as a municipal court judge, with someone else stepping into the position. Healy scoffed at the suggestion.

“I heard that in the past 10 days, and I can tell you that it is preposterous,” he said. “I am not stepping down for anyone. I came into this with my eyes wide open, and I have no other plans but to run for mayor and win this election.” Melissa Holloway – ‘Expanding Opportunities’

Holloway, 43, is a native of Jersey City and former councilwoman. She worked as an aide to her first cousin, Glenn D. Cunningham, when he was the City Council president in 1987 to 1988. She has also been a political consultant for Jesse Jackson, worked with former first lady and current U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and worked with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

Holloway ran in 1993 for the City Council seat in Ward F on a slate with mayoral candidate Bret Schundler. She beat incumbent Dan Wiley by just six votes. Holloway then ran again for City Council in 1997 under Gerald McCann, then ran in the run-off with Jerramiah Healy and won re-election.

Holloway moved back to Jersey City last year after spending six months in California.

She is also a graduate of Academic (now McNair) High School in Jersey City, earned a degree in business management from Rutgers University-Newark and a Masters degree in political management from the Graduate School of Political Management in New York City, and earned a Culinary Arts Degree from Hudson County Community College. Ready for the battle

When asked if her pursuit of the Jersey City mayor’s office in this upcoming election was a “whirlwind,” Melissa Holloway could only laugh in agreement over her situation in the past month and a half leading into the May 10 municipal election.

“That’s a good description, a whirlwind,” said Holloway. “But after all the controversy, if you didn’t know who Melissa Holloway was, now you know.”

The controversy refers to Healy’s attempts to legally keep Holloway off the ballot. Ultimately, she prevailed.

Holloway said that while this legal fight was a setback, since it meant that she had to reestablish her contacts with political supporters and donors. But it has given a boost to her now-abbreviated campaign.

“I got such a fabulous response, all the press play on the court battles had backfired on Healy, and elevated me to another level,” said Holloway. “There was some real anger in the community, and they are glad that I am back on the ballot.”

Holloway said, “I have a better vision and platform, expanding opportunities in a growing Jersey City that takes in all of the citizens of Jersey City. The cornerstone of my administration will deal with investment in city resources and the human development of Jersey City, along with improving the deliverability of services to the residents.”

The human development for Holloway starts with addressing the crime and lack of employment among the city’s youth.

“After all the mayhem at MLK Parade, I brought some of the young men who were participating in the chaos to find what happened and why,” said Holloway. Holloway marched and campaigned during the annual Martin Luther King Parade that took place last Sunday, which unfortunately was marred by several violent incidents including a stabbing.

“Those young men said that there are no jobs for them, that they wouldn’t be out there starting trouble. We have to want for them to survive, there has to be street corner reform and job creation,” she said.

Holloway added, “A lot of the job creation have to be some kind of second-chance program, and it has to go farther than sweeping the streets.”

That also means that the city under Holloway would monitor the developers who are supposed to hire local residents to work on construction sites when they receive tax abatement.

“Jersey City needs a disparity study,” she said. “We have to look at the contracts the city has with the developers, if the developers are out of compliance in terms of construction and permanent jobs.”

On the issue of crime, Holloway would look as mayor to triple the personnel of the anti- gang police task force that had been started by the Jersey City Police Department in January, but took issue with the business curfew went into effect for 135 blocks in Jersey City that was implemented in March.

“We as a city cannot surrender to the criminal element by shutting down people’s businesses,” said Holloway. “And we have to strengthen our community policing.”

As for City Hall, Holloway is looking to make city government a more computer-accessible government.

“I would like to implement e-government, where people can access various city offices and services, and log in their complaints through e-mails,” said Holloway. “Not enough people are aware of what is going on in their government, and we need a city website that will be maintained regularly.”

She would also like to hire more staff for particular departments such as the construction department, and also shift staff in other departments in order to have a group of personnel who would crack down on violations such as illegal dumping.

Holloway if successful on May 10 would be the city’s first female mayor and the second African-American mayor.

“My strengths is that I understand government, I know how to think out of the box, to surround myself with other people who know more than I do, and copy successful models,” said Holloway. “My administration will be about expanding opportunities. I was one of those folks who was disenfranchised, and I am living my slogan by showing people that if you want it bad enough, you’ll work hard enough, and I am determined to do the work.” Alfred Marc Pine – ‘Fight Abatements! Fight Corruption! Fight Back!’

Pine was born in 1953 in Brooklyn and lived there until 1971, when he went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He then went to Boston College Law School, which prompts him to mention that he graduated one year behind 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry. Pine settled in Jersey City in 1980, where he has lived ever since.

Pine practiced law in Manhattan and Brooklyn until he closed his office in August 2004. He was also on the Jersey City Rent Leveling Board from 1992 to 1994.

Cranky Liberal

An interview with Jersey City mayoral candidate Alfred Marc Pine never resembles a formal conversation, but instead evolves as if it was two old friends bickering over things that are forgotten a few minutes later.

Pine, who describes himself as a “cranky liberal,” the “Howard Cosell of Jersey City” and a “cross between Regis Philbin and David Letterman,” likes to heap criticism on practically everything and everyone, and praise – usually about himself – all in the same breath. What especially invokes his ire is Jersey City politics, which he wants to fix.

“I’m not running for mayor so much as I’m running to be the new sheriff of Hudson County,” said Pine. “What’s going on is that [Mayor] Healy is not enforcing the laws.” Pine offered as an example of the mayor’s not exercising his power to enforce the law: the situation in Journal Square with the buildings falling apart. Several are owned by the Tawil family, based in New York City.

“Start with Journal Square. You have a family that owes 11 million dollars to the city and then there this decision to [consider them as possible] redevelopers of the same buildings that they did a bad job of maintaining,” said Pine. “You’re rewarded for breaking the law.”

Pine’s targets range from Jerramiah “Heebie-Jeebies” Healy to the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustments. “If you wanted 12 kitchens and 37 bathrooms, they would say it’s a well nourished family, let’s approve that,” he said.

“Half the people running for offices in this election are doing so because someone did something to them when they worked for the city or county,” said Pine.

Pine finished poorly in last year’s special election but he said that he gained confidence by talking one-on-one with the public while campaigning. Issues

Pine looks forward to being the next mayor of Jersey City to tackle issues that stay many times under the radar or are not discussed much.

“Its amazing to me that [pollution] didn’t get mentioned much,” said Pine, who pointed out that the PSE&G plant in Jersey City was recently named one of the worst polluters in the state.

“I want to hire the equivalent of Eliot Spitzer as my corporation counsel,” said Pine. “They are allowed to pillage and plunder, but it’s time for this city to fight back and get monies.”

Pine is also looking to “fight back” against the developers who are building at a rapid pace in Jersey City.

“We also need to monitor the abatement contracts that these developers are signing, since they are not paying their share of taxes and not living up to their agreement to hire locally,” said Pine.

Pine also is willing to take on the city’s precarious financial situation when he is elected mayor, even taking an unpopular stance.

“I would rather raise taxes [if it came to that] than give people a rebate,” said Pine. “I want to show them I am going to work; I am not going to lie to them.”

Pine also said that he will definitely pursue obtaining money from the Port Authority for the Holland Tunnel, just as the city of Newark is receiving money for the Newark Liberty International Airport with “litigation and bodies.” Money collected would then go back into hiring more police officers, although Pine believes that more police are not entirely the solution to combating crime.

“You get 10,000 people to block the access to the Holland Tunnel, to send the message that we should get our fair share of monies,” said Pine, who when asked if he would put his body on the line, said that he would hire someone to take his place.

“We have all these questions about crime, especially among the youth. And we spend more than $14,000 per student in the Jersey City public school system,” said Pine. “Give them a skill, give them summer jobs to keep them occupied.”

When asked about his plans if he did not win the mayor’s seat, Pine said that he will take a vacation but added that he has not made any plans since he expects to win. “I am the best one-on-one campaigner with the smarts, passion and humor,” said Pine.


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