Kenny named to fill vacant Ward B seat in JC; critics not happy

How does a candidate become a frontrunner?
If you are Phil Kenny (photo by Steve Gold), a contender for the Ward B City Council seat in the Jersey City municipal election, it is by being appointed by the City Council at a special meeting on Monday to fill the vacant seat of the previous Ward B councilwoman Mary Spinello.
Spinello resigned March 31 to assume the executive director’s position at the Jersey City Parking Authority. Ward B covers much of Jersey City’s west side.
But Kenny’s appointment did not come with controversy, as some of the candidates running against Kenny questioned why Kenny, who is running on Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s ticket, was the person appointed when the seat could have been filled by any Ward B resident who is 18 years and older.
However, council members wanted the seat filled for future council meetings even though the seat could have remained vacant until June 30.
Those opposed believe it was an obvious ploy by the Healy administration to give Kenny an advantage in the upcoming election.
In attendance at the special meeting were two other Ward B candidates, Mike Manzo and Paul Catsandonis.
Among those speaking out against the appointment was lifelong Ward B resident Ann McGovern, who is not running for office.
“No one should have the title of incumbent next to their name while they are running for the seat; it is an open seat,” said McGovern while addressing the City Council. “Ethically, this should be a ceremonial appointment.”
Catsandonis sharply remarked after the meeting, “I don’t get to see Broadway comedies often, but I got to see one today at this meeting.”
But the majority of the City Council members voting on the appointment said it was the right choice, citing Kenny’s qualifications as a community leader. It was a 6-0 vote with one abstaining.
City Councilman Michael Sottolano said he saw “no reason” that Kenny’s running as a candidate should prevent him for being appointed to the vacant seat.
Only City Councilman Steven Fulop abstained rather than vote no, taking issue not with Kenny but with the appointment process allowing Kenny to be the one considered for the appointment.
Kenny addressed the council after his appointment. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the [Healy] administration in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
However, he did not make himself available to the Jersey City Reporter for comments but instead deferred to Healy campaign headquarters.
Kenny then sat in on the City Council caucus that took place after the special meeting. – Ricardo Kaulessar

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