Not long ago the people of Jersey City were losing their homes to staggering taxes. Businesses fled and development ground to a halt. City hall failed to address the bleeding and the city faced a financial, societal and political crisis. When Bret Schundler offered new ideas and leadership, I devoted my time, effort and finances to his successful campaign. We won and for the next eight years, while serving as the City’s Corporation Counsel, taxes were cut in half (including a six month tax free holiday). Businesses returned, development and redevelopment boomed and the city witnessed historic prosperity, stability and urban rebirth.
I left city hall in 2001, but never left our city nor my passion for improving our lives here. Today however, we face tax bills which have skyrocketed by 83 percent over the last eight years. The city budget has more than doubled over the last eight years despite an inflation rate of only one or two percent and once again there is the prospect of our people losing their homes. Despite a gleaming waterfront, the much neglected inner city seems all but forgotten.
Whereas big corporate developers and their tenants are offered tax abatements, the local “mom and pop” corner stores (along with the rest of us) are only offered higher tax bills. This leaves us all little to spend at our local stores which simply cannot compete with the big corporate tax abated businesses. As a result our local small businesses cannot hire our citizens, downsize or are forced to close. Who speaks for them?
Our once proud children’s and youth programs have all but vanished, at a time when they are in such desperate need. Then who speaks for them?
Jersey City residents remain among the unemployed despite the heralded thousands of jobs on the waterfront, who speaks for them?
Sadly, what was once a city of promise has become a city of mismanagement, fearand hopelessness with a city government disconnected from the people it has sworn to serve.
I am running for Council at Large in Jersey City because I cannot and will not sit idly by as our city regresses to a situation that I thought was forever in the past. I demand that government lives within its means, control spending, lower taxes, and encourage business and job growth while maintaining vital services. Many say it cannot be done, yet we know better. We did it before and will do it again. It can and must be done and I am eager, excited and ready to do the job.
I ask that in voting for me as Councilman at Large to serve you and lead all of us to a better place.
As your Councilman at Large, I will be your voice and advocate in fighting to make government serve all of you and improve our lives here in the city we call home.
Sean M. Connelly