Throw ’em out

Anonymous downtown JC residents bat around idea of recall

While the internet is always full of angry chatter about political incumbents, in recent weeks, a downtown Jersey City website called JCList has been filled with talk of initiating a recall of the mayor and the members of the City Council.
Is this idle chatter, or an actual movement? It’s hard to tell.
Longtime city activist Yvonne Balcer is one of the people who wrote to JCList on the topic of recall, posting information and inviting other posters to join together to pursue the issue.


“I think you need a couple of issues down the road, another year or two.”—Yvonne Balcer

Balcer, a York Street resident, conducts a public access TV show called SpeakNJ. Earlier this month, she videotaped a rally in West New York led by Dr. Felix Roque for her show. Roque is a West New York activist who is attempting to recall West New York Mayor Sal Vega because of high taxes in that town.
Balcer said that while she doesn’t see a recall of newly re-elected Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and the council coming soon, she can picture it happening in the next few years.
“I think you need a couple of issues down the road, another year or two,” Balcer said. “I think it’s when people are going to get upset about tax increases, especially in this economy.”
Coincidentally, the City Council voted at a special meeting on Wednesday to introduce an interim municipal tax levy that would result in a tax increase (see related brief on page 2).
The first conversations about recall on JCList started in mid-June, the day after the outgoing City Council voted 6-3 at their June 17 meeting to amend the tax abatement requested by the developers of Crystal Point, a 269-unit luxury condo tower located on Second Street.
Members of the public opposed reducing the developer’s payments, citing the 30 per cent citywide property tax increase in the past four years. Several posters took issue not just with the vote but also with the council members who voted in the affirmative, taking them to task for being “clowns” and being part of the Healy “machine.”

Against a recall

Dan Levin is another longtime community activist and former mayoral candidate who posted on JCList about the recall issue. However, Levin, one of the founders of the local organization Civic JC, and its political arm, One Jersey City, is against the idea.
“Mayor Healy won on the May 12 ballot, and if people didn’t like what he stood for, then they should have voted him out of office,” Levin said. “It’s easier to pour our energies into work for reform and better government.”
Those calling for a recall have made an exception for downtown Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop, a frequent Healy critic whom they think is doing a good job.
Last week, Fulop said he understands the frustration of those calling for recall. But he said a recall will only mean another election after just getting through one.
“We just had a six-month election, and there will be more money spent and campaigning if a special election happens because of a recall,” Fulop said.

How to do it

The last recall effort in recent decades in Jersey City was in 1971, when two insurgent organizations gathered enough signatures to force recall of Mayor Thomas J. Whelan. Before a recall election could occur, however, he was convicted in federal court of conspiracy and extortion in a multi-million dollar political kickback scheme on city and county contracts, and was removed from office.
In New Jersey, a committee of three people is formed to initiate a recall drive. One of them has to file a “notice of intention” for a recall with the municipal clerk. Once that notice is approved, the next step, within 160 days after filing the notice, is collecting signatures from at least 25 percent of the town’s registered voters as of the last general election, in this case November of 2008.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at

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