Another choice for mayor Rokicki hopes to be alternative candidate

The threat to close the 56th Street Senior Citizen Center became a deciding moment for Raymond Rokicki. It made him decide to run for mayor of Bayonne in the Nov. 4 special election.

Although a small issue when compared to many of the problems facing Bayonne, the senior citizen threat symbolized how confused the city’s priorities are, Rokicki said.

“These are people who lived and worked their entire lives here, and now when they should be enjoying their rewards, the city threatens to close their center on them,” Rokicki said. “That made me decide to run for mayor.”

Rokicki, a retired merchant seaman and a current member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, announced his intention to run in late August, and is currently one of four candidates vying to fill the mayoral post until the next regularly scheduled election in May 2010.

Rokicki is opposed by Police Director Mark Smith, retired Municipal Judge Patrick Conaghan, and City Clerk Robert Sloan. Former Mayor Richard Rutkowski Jr. is expected to declare before the Sept. 17 filing deadline.

In some ways, Rokicki is emblematic of the blue-collar history of Bayonne, tying into a career in the oil industry as a sailor on oil tankers.

He grew up in the LaTourrette Housing apartments near First Street in Bayonne, attended local schools, and after graduating from Bayonne High School, he took to a life at sea. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971.

His ideas

He said he is running because he believes voters want other choices, and he has already presented an agenda of ideas that he would seek to implement if elected.

Although attempted cuts in senior services over the summer prompted him to run, Rokicki said the biggest issue in Bayonne is the development of the former Military Ocean Terminal.

Although the city has recently sought new bids on the sale of land, Rokicki said other options should be considered, such as leasing the land.

“We should look at the land as a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket and the city of Bayonne has won,” he said. “Do we take our payout as a one-time lump sum, or do we take it as a forever annuity?”

The development of MOTBY is so important, Rokicki believes that the final choices should be put as a referendum on the ballot to leave the final choice to the public.

But included in this must be an affordable housing development for senior citizens.

“Too many of our senior citizens in Bayonne and Hudson County are on a list waiting for affordable housing,” he said.

“Any development of MOTBY should be used to create affordable and accessible space for seniors as well as group homes for aging family members.”

Rokicki said he particularly admired the recent efforts of Business Administrator Peter Cresci, who has been attempting to tighten finances and the operations of the city.

Foot police patrol and fuel economy are also on Rokicki’s proposed agenda. He said he would like to provide golf cart like vehicles to help the disabled and seniors to access some of the remote walkways and parks of the city. He also proposed possibly getting students more involved in the operations of various city boards to give them a close-up view of how the city operates.

He also believes city, state and federal representatives should be lobbying to get historic and other military ships to dock at Port Liberty, where they might be viewed and appreciated by the general public.

“The potential of this city is enormous,” Rokicki said. “But we have empty stores and empty lots along Broadway. One of the things we need to do is re-establish business in Bayonne.”

The challenge, he said, is how to attract business to Bayonne. What things can the administration do to make Bayonne more attractive for companies to set up shop here?

“We should not have empty stores and empty lots on Broadway,” he said. “If I’m elected, I will try to do something to change that.”

email to Al Sullivan


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