Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy introduced his City Council running mates to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters on Thursday night.
At Casino-in-the-Park in Jersey City’s Lincoln Park, the mayor announced a team consisting of six incumbents and three newcomers.
On the slate are incumbents Michael Sottolano in Ward A, Bill Gaughan in Ward D, Viola Richardson in Ward F, and Mariano Vega, Peter Brennan and Willie Flood for at-large. Newcomers are Phil Kenny in Ward B, Nidia Rivera Lopez in Ward C, and Guy Catrillo for Ward E.
The candidates will run with Healy in the May 12 municipal election.
After being introduced by Healy, each candidate spoke to an audience of about 600 supporters who packed Casino-in-the-Park by 5:30 p.m.
“Downtown was the pits, now it’s the Gold Coast [but] we have a long way to go.” – Guy Catrillo
Catrillo, 54, a registered Republican since 1972, works as a senior planning aide in the city’s Planning Division and lives in Downtown’s Harsimus Cove area. He said he wants to bring in more corporate jobs, and will work with fellow council members to spread the prosperity that has come to Downtown to the rest of the city.
“Downtown was the pits, now it’s the Gold Coast [but] we have a long way to go,” Catrillo said.
Catrillo will face a formidable opponent in current Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop, who won in 2005 as an independent, and announced on Wednesday that he will run again as an independent. Fulop had been courted in recent weeks by Healy to run on his ticket.
Two incumbents not seeking re-election are two-term Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski, opting out in the aftermath of his Nov. 7 arrest for urination in a Washington D.C. nightclub, and one-term Ward B Councilwoman Mary Spinello.
City council candidates run to sit for four-year terms on the nine-member City Council, where they represent six wards and three city-wide at-large seats.
The job is part time and pays about $33,000 a year. Eight of the nine current council members have full-time jobs, with five working in Hudson County government.
Healy’s political mantra for his re-election campaign is “Delivering change we can see.” He delivered some of that change with his three new council candidates.
All three received a warm response from the audience, with Catrillo and Kenny getting shout outs (literally) from the most boisterous supporters.
Although a newcomer, Kenny is considered the best shot so far to win a council seat amongst the three. The other mayoral candidates, such as Louis Manzo and L. Harvey Smith, have not announced their council contenders for the Ward B seat, or for that matter, their entire council slate.
“I know what’s going on in Jersey City and in Hudson County,” said Kenny, an office coordinator for the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “I am entering this race to make a difference, not just in Ward B, but in this great city of Jersey City.”
Lopez, who runs a medical consulting firm, told the Jersey City Reporter, “My mayor asked me,” when asked on Jan. 26 why she is running for the Ward C council seat. However, at Thursday’s announcement, she surprised even Healy with an energetic speech touting not only the mayor’s accomplishments but also explaining further why she is running.
“In my search for commitment to this team, I found an effective administration with prosperity; a team I can be proud to be part of,” Lopez said.
Lopez will be running against at least one confirmed candidate, longtime community activist Jimmy King, who is on the Manzo ticket.
While Catrillo, Kenny and Lopez are newcomers to running for council, they are not novices to the political arena. All three have worked on past elections as campaign workers and/or political coordinators within the wards in which they are running.
That experience should help when they go out to get signatures on petitions to submit to the City Clerk’s office by March 19 in order to get on the ballot for May 12. Catrillo has to get 276 valid signatures, Kenny needs 202, and Lopez must get 198.