JERSEY CITY – Just four days ago, school board Vice President Sterling Waterman told a room of supporters at Bright Side Tavern fundraiser that he planned to submit at least 2,000 petitions to run for a City Council At-Large seat in the upcoming Jersey City municipal elections.
However, as of 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, Waterman – perhaps the most-watched of the independent candidates who had announced their candidacies – had not met the petition filing deadline.
Candidates planning to run in the May 14 elections had to file petitions by March 11 at 4 p.m. to secure a place on the ballot. Mayoral and at-large candidates are required by law to file 1,300 valid petitions to be certified for the election.
Earlier this year, City Clerk Robert Byrne stated that the 1,300 threshold can be a difficult one to reach, and he speculated that some people who had announced candidacies would have trouble getting the necessary petitions to get on the ballot.
Waterman, currently a member of the Jersey City Board of Education, has been in the cross hairs of an ongoing controversy surrounding school board contracts made to political allies of Waterman and other school board members.
Waterman is currently the vice president of the board and is a former board chairman. He was elected to the school board with the backing and endorsement of the local teachers’ union and with support from City Councilman Steven Fulop.
Fulop is currently running for mayor.
There have been allegations that Fulop used his relationship with Waterman and other school board members to guide the direction of the board and give contracts to political donors.
Waterman has, however, split from the Fulop camp and for the past 18 months has become one of Fulop’s biggest critics. Some Waterman supporters believed he would play a similar role on the municipal election campaign trail and could have even won a seat on the City Council.
In recent weeks, however, there has been speculation that Waterman was having difficulty collecting the petitions he needed to get on the ballot.
At his fundraiser on Thursday night at the Bright Side Tavern, Waterman – who was initially on a political slate headed by Jerry Walker – said he “got off to a slow start” in collecting petitions, partly due to time lost with the Walker campaign. Still, he optimiscally predicted he would be able to submit 2,000 petitions and get on the ballot. – E. Assata Wright