Union City political campaigns underway

The filing deadline to run for office in Union City was this past Thursday. The election will be held May 11.
West New York is not having its election until 2011.
In the Union City race, Mayor Brian Stack and Union City Board of Commissioners planned to formally introduce their re-election campaign filed for re-election on Thursday at Schuetzen Park.
In Union City’s form of government, residents vote for five commissioners who then choose a mayor from among themselves.
Also last week, Frank Scarafile and the “Vision 4 Union City” ticket filed their petitions to oppose Stack and his slate. Scarafile’s announced slate includes: Carlos Lopez, a Union City resident and entrepreneur; Olga Garcia, who works for the Welfare Department of Social Services in Jersey City; Mark Pikunich, a corrections officer for the NJ State DOC and lifelong resident of Union City; and Julio Fernandez, a UPS worker with a degree in business administration from Jersey City State College.
Scarafile, a lifelong resident of Union City, is currently the superintendent of schools in Little Ferry. He is also a former principal in Union City.
The spokesman for the group, Armando Hernandez, said the group is running on a platform based on stabilizing taxes, affordable housing, and bringing jobs back to Union City. The group promises to bring 20,000 jobs to the people of Union City within the four years of their first term.
Scarafile was arrested with five others late last year for allegedly handing out flyers that Mayor Brian Stack claims appeared to be forged with his signature. Scarafile and the others involved in the incident have filed a counterclaim against the city and the Police Department. The matter has not yet been adjudicated. Scarafile called the arrest “political retaliation.”
Adam Ocasio, who planned to run on his own without a slate, was unable to collect enough petitions to file. “The experience was great,” said Ocasio, who collected 275 signatures. “It was a great journey and I learned a lot.” Ocasio said he plans to keep his Union City 2010 Facebook page open as a forum for Union City residents to keep talking. He has not ruled out a 2014 run.

Budget cuts hit close to home

The Union City School District stands to lose nearly $8.5 million dollars and West New York just under $4 million dollars in state aid due to G ov. Chris Christie’s proposed public school aid cuts, which were announced as part of an address he gave to the state Legislature regarding the 2010-2011 $28.3 billion state budget on Tuesday.
Christie also plans to cut aid for towns’ budgets, reducing municipal aid by a total of $445 million.
The cuts could have a profound effect on Hudson County municipalities and schools who in the past have benefitted from the aid.
Last year, West New York received $450,000 in “extraordinary” aid for its town budget, and Union City received $11 million before former Gov. Jon Corzine left office in January. The aid helps municipalities keep property taxes low without cutting services.
As of press time, West New York officials said they were unsure of the exact impact the proposed changes would have on the town budget and there was no one available to comment from the Union City Department of Revenue and Finance.
During his address, Christie also touted Proposition 2.5 – a constitutional amendment that would go to the voters in November to cap the growth of property taxes at no more than 2.5 percent per year starting next year.
“No longer will we reward cities and towns who irresponsibly spend,” Christie said.
Other cost-saving measures Christie proposed including reform of the state’s pension plan and new rules for arbitration and employee benefits for school districts.
Christie said he plans to stop excess taxation or “tax madness” in New Jersey and called for the end of tax rebates, which he called “gimmicks,” in 2011.
He boasted about having made $13 billion in cuts already during only the first eight weeks since he’s been in office.
However, the state has decided not to renew an income tax on people making over $400,000, which would have brought in $1 billion.

CASA hosts wine tasting to support volunteer efforts

Hudson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will host its fourth Annual Wine Tasting event sponsored by Wine Library of Springfield on March 26 at The Atrium in Harborside Financial Center, Jersey City from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm.
The CASA Wine Tasting reception will feature more than 80 wines from all over the world, live jazz by the Alan Quinn Trio, a silent auction, and a premium chocolate tasting compliments of Cyndi O’Keefe.
Fidelity Investments will be the evening’s honoree for it generous support of children in foster care.
Hudson County CASA is part of a national network of organizations that trains and supervises volunteers who advocate on behalf of foster children, with the goal of finding each child a safe and permanent home. Currently, more than 9,000 children are in foster care statewide with more than 1,200 of them found in Hudson County.
Advance tickets may be purchased for $65, and will be for sale at the door for $75. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Hudson County CASA at (201) 795-9856 or

Free women’s health seminar scheduled at Palisades Medical Center

On March 25 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. a Women’s Health Seminar on Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Disorders will be held at Palisades Medical Center, 7600 River Road in North Bergen. Incontinence and pelvic floor disorders affect millions of women and more than 50 percent of women between the ages of 42-50 suffer from some degree of these problems.
Symptoms of stress urinary incontinence can include sometimes leaking urine when laughing, coughing, sneezing or exercising.
Pressure-like discomfort or problems with bladder control may indicate pelvic organ prolapse. The seminar, led by Sam Hessami, MD, will explain more about these treatable conditions.
Admission and parking is free and free transportation will also be available from 60th Street and Bergenline Avenue beginning at 5:30 p.m. Food and refreshments will be provided. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information contact Nikki Mederos at (201) 854-5702.

Free grant writing seminar for firefighters

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, FEMA and the Middlesex County Fire Academy will host a free grant writing tutorial for New Jersey firefighters and first responders next week.
The event will teach firefighters and first responders how to apply for federal funding for protective equipment, such as specialized vehicles.
On March 25 the first session will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., while the second session will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
It will be held at the Middlesex Fire Academy, located at 100 fire Academy Dire, Sayreville, New Jersey.
For more information, call Kellie Drakeford at Senator Menendez’s Newark Office at (973) 645-3030.

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