James Davis believes the race for mayor boils down to one thing: Do you like what Mayor Mark Smith has done? If not, he says that’s a vote for him.
“It’s basically going to be over the fiscal state of the city and his record over the last six years,” Davis said. “I feel that’s a reason someone will vote against him, rather than for him. If they liked what was going on in the city, we wouldn’t be here.”
Davis said he has the leadership abilities to move the city forward, capitalizing on his skills as a police captain and people’s trust in him.
“They will go through a wall for you,” he said. “When you treat people right and fairly, they’ll get the job done for you.”
Davis said that if elected mayor, all his decisions will be based on doing things better for the community.
“On decisions regarding this city, they will always be with the best interests of the citizens at heart,” he said. “I will never make a decision for a small group of people or a decision that would turn out to be to the detriment of the people.”
Among Davis’s goals would be the revitalization of the Broadway shopping district, bringing back community events, and opening a recreation center for youth.
“I see Bayonne coming back,” he said. “I see people starting to move to Bayonne.”
Davis has deep roots in the community. Born and raised in the city, his family is well known locally.
Davis is a product of the Bayonne School District, graduating from Bayonne High School.
After graduation he worked on Wall Street for a short time, then joined the Bayonne Police Department.
A police officer since 1986, Davis is probably best known for his role as a member of the department’s Special Crimes Unit. One five-year investigation led to the arrest of scores of people from inside and outside of Bayonne connected to an illegal internet gambling operation. Davis said his work brought the city more than $1.5 million in confiscated criminal funds for use to bolster local law enforcement efforts.
Davis is married to Jamie and is the father of three sons: James, Justin, and Joshua.
Mayor Mark Smith
Mayor Mark Smith is a life-long city resident. The fifth child of a police officer and a registered nurse, he says that he learned early on the value of “family, friendship, and service to the community.”
In 1983, the mayor began his commitment to the community as a member of the Bayonne Police Department.
During his 26 years on the force, he rose through the ranks from patrolman to deputy chief, receiving a number of awards, citations, and honors for valor and bravery in the line of duty.
On Nov. 4, 2008, Smith was elected Bayonne mayor.
Smith says that his tenure has been marked by “a renaissance throughout the city, with new projects and developments under construction all over town.”
The mayor has focused his efforts on reducing Bayonne’s outstanding debt and closing the deficit.
“My fiscal policies have earned Bayonne a bond rating upgrade by the financial community,” he said. “And thus far, I’ve cut Bayonne’s debt by 43 percent and reduced the budget gap.”
Smith said that he and his administration have a plan that has been working, one in which results are now being seen. He says his two opponents have no such plan.
“They talk in vague platitudes and offer not a single thing to address the issues of the day,” Smith said.
The mayor said that if there was one thing he could change about Bayonne right now, it would be to accelerate his plans for the city. But he said he has no regrets, and that he wouldn’t change a thing that he has done so far.
Smith and his brothers and sister grew up on West 26th Street, in the house where his mother still lives. He attended St. Henry’s Grammar School and Marist High School, where he was elected class president.
While serving on the police force, Smith completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Management at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. He went on to graduate from Seton Hall University in South Orange with a Masters Degree in Human Resources and Development.
Smith is an active member of numerous law enforcement and community organizations, and is a parishioner at St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church, where he has taught catechism to young children as a volunteer.
“I work to make Bayonne a better place to live, work, and play,” Smith said.
Smith and his wife, Patricia, have two daughters.
Anthony Zanowic was born in neighboring Jersey City, and as a teenager moved to Bayonne, where he attended Bayonne High School. Later, he studied at New Jersey City University. He currently manages Hudson Lanes.
In his youth, Zanowic was a Golden Gloves boxer, something he said helped make him the man he is today. For years, he trained and mentored young men in the ring, and now, he says, he’s preparing for “another kind of fight.”
“My philosophy is simple,” Zanowic said. “Politics should not be about imposing one’s beliefs on the entire population. Politics should be about governing based on the wants and needs of all people. Compromise is the art of hearing all views, debating the pros and cons then combining everything into law.”
Zanowic pledges “real accountability” and a commitment to being the “most transparent administration” Bayonne has ever seen, including in competitive bidding for city contracts. “Bayonne has had enough ‘hey buddy’ jobs, and it's time we look into those who are most qualified for our city's positions,” he said. “From day one, the residents of Bayonne won't owe any favors.”
Zanowic also pledges “real” economic development.
“People will only invest in positive climates, and business in Bayonne hasn't been positive,” he said. “Our government's obsession with spending must be curbed. Instead of addressing the budget, our elected officials kicked the can down the road to preserve their image. This has directly impacted property owners, entrepreneurs, and renters.”
Zanowic also believes that city residents feel that now is the right time for a change in city government. He says that his being a political newcomer will be beneficial to Bayonne if he is elected.
“We have no former office holders on our ticket,” Zanowic said. “We need to break out of career politicians. Just get people in there that want to do the job, concerned citizens who want to get involved.”
Zanowic’s priorities if elected would be bringing a greater transparency to city hall, settling the teacher contract impasse, helping downtown residents affected by the Bayonne Bridge-raising project, and downsizing government.
“We have a 20-page plan. We’re the only ones to do it,” he said. “We have new, fresh ideas that will work. We want to lower the tax burden for the citizens. The mayor has had six years and he hasn’t done it.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at: JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.