In the heart of Union City, just off Bergenline Avenue, the street was closed off on June 23 with a hot dog stand and people filling the block. Though the atmosphere resembled a festival, the tent in the center of it was actually Union City Mayor Brian Stack’s office – at least for the day.
Stack has been holding mobile mayor’s office hours since 2000. Once held for a few dates each quarter, the mobile office hours will now come to residents more frequently on a monthly basis. (See sidebar for July dates).
The mayor said he normally sees approximately 350 to 400 people a week at his office in City Hall, but the mobile mayor’s office hours attract upwards of 300 people in one day.
The two biggest concerns are housing and jobs.
There are some things that Stack – as mayor – says he can’t help with, such as Section 8 housing issues or city jobs (due to a current hiring freeze). Flyers are available in both English and Spanish advising residents about that before they sign up to speak with the mayor, and the flyers also tell residents where they can indeed go to get help with Section 8 housing.
Stack said he and his staff stay on the streets until everyone who signed up on time has had a chance to talk to him.
Well known for widely publicizing his cell phone number, Stack also hands out business cards with that number to each resident who attends in case they need to follow up.
Top requests: Housing and jobs
At the most recent mobile mayor’s office on June 23, many of the issues brought to the mayor were regarding either housing or jobs – both looming problems in this economy.
Marcella Andrade came to the mobile mayor’s office hoping for a chance to speak with the mayor about her housing situation. Though she’s currently staying with the pastor of a local church while searching for full-time work, Andrade and her 18-month-old daughter need a place of their own.
Stack informed her about a program through his Civic Association in which he could help her with the first month’s rent once she secures a place she can afford.
“I’m very happy,” said Andrade afterwards. “Because nobody would help.”
Affordable housing projects for low-income people also exist in several Hudson County towns, although the wait lists are long for some of them.
Christine Adames found out about the event from her brother. She came to the mayor looking for job search help in a tough economy.
“If anybody can do anything, hopefully he can,” said Adames. “We’ll see what he can do.”
A Union City native, Adames recently relocated back to her hometown from Texas and was happy to see small town initiatives taking place in the city.
“They’re really big on that in Texas,” she said. “Each little community is tight knit. Communities there always come together.”
Jasmine Trinidad, 20, discovered the mobile mayor’s office as she was taking a walk. Currently searching for a job, she decided to stop in and see what information was available.
Jose Weeks, a representative from Unico, a cleaning contracting company at Meadowlands Stadium, was on hand to help residents such as Trinidad possibly find work with his company. Unico has partnered with Union City to fill 600 job openings for general cleaning, machine operators, and supervisors.
Union City is the only municipality in the area working in partnership with the company to fill the jobs.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be 10 opportunities for Union City residents to meet with the mayor in their neighborhood in July. All mobile mayor’s office hours will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.:
July 8 – Sixth Street between New York and Bergenline avenues
July 9 – Eighth Street between Central and Summit avenues
July 13 – 16th Street between Bergenline Avenue and West Street
July 14 – 14th Street between Central and Summit avenues
July 15 – 24th Street between Palisade and New York avenues
July 16 – Central Avenue between 25th and 26th streets
July 20 – Hudson Avenue between Peter and 34th streets
July 21 – 37th Street between Bergenline Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard
July 22 – 48th Street between New York and Palisade avenues
July 23 – 45th Street between Bergenline Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard