Shooting for the top Healy announces re-election bid; reveals gun buyback results
by Ricardo Kaulessar Reporter staff writer
Feb 22, 2005 | 724 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Jerremiah Healy announced at City Hall Thursday that he plans to run for mayor in the municipal election in May and continue a law-and-order agenda.

His announcement was brief, and he did not present the slate of City Council candidates that would run in the election with his endorsement.

(Update: Mayor Healy appeared at a luncheon on Saturday at the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City where he gave his endorsement to Willie Flood as a candidate for a City Council at-large seat and Rev. Ron-Calvin Clark for the Ward F council seat in the upcoming municpal election in May.)

The announcement came a day after he was joined by city officials and community leaders to announce the final results of the city's gun buy-back program, "Operation Lifesaver."

Last November, Healy took the oath of office to become the 39th mayor in Jersey City history, 10 days after the opposing candidates contested the results.

Healy is serving out the remaining months of the term of the late Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, who passed away last May after massive heart attack. The shortened period of office has prompted Healy to redouble his efforts to follow through on the initiatives in his election platform, such as putting more police officers on patrol, forming an anti-gang task force, and taking guns off the streets.

So far, 10 new police officers have been sworn in, arrests of gang members have been made, and the gun buy-back program took almost 900 guns off the streets. Four more years

Healy, 54, served as a councilman-at-large on the City Council since 2001. From 1991 to 1996 he was chief judge in the Jersey City Municipal Court before stepping down to run for his first political office, the mayor's seat against incumbent Bret Schundler. Healy eventually lost in a run-off against Schundler.

Thursday, Healy took the first steps of his candidacy by picking up more than 2,000 petitions that were handed to him by City Clerk Robert Byrne. Although this year's mayoral candidates only need the signatures of 1,197 Jersey City residents to run, candidates usually submit 30 to 40 percent more in case some are disqualified.

Healy then made his announcement. He promised to continue achieving the goals that he set when he was sworn in the Hudson County Courthouse back in November.

Afterwards, he held court with a few reporters in the conference room inside the Mayor's Office.

Healy said two factors influenced him to announce in February.

"First, I have to declare early since I only have four, five weeks until the March 17 deadline to get the petitions in, and that's not easy," said Healy. "Also, people have come up to me on the street asking when I'm going to run."

When asked why he did not announce the City Council candidates, Healy said that he is still not settled on who they will be. He said he may announce them in the coming week.

He expects to raise nearly the same amount of money as during last fall's campaign.

"You have to walk upstairs, meet people, and knock on doors," he said. "I also believe that $400,000 to $500,000 dollars is needed to run a good campaign." Operation is a lifesaver'

The City Council chambers the day before were the scene of the press conference covering the gun buy-back program, one of the early successes in Healy's short term in office.

"Operation Lifesaver" was run in early January through the efforts of Healy, Ward F City Councilman Viola Richardson, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, Jersey City Police Chief Robert Troy, and other community and religious leaders in the city.

It concluded with a total of 897 guns brought into seven locations across the city in exchange for $115,725 in cash.

Citizens returned six automatic weapons, 473 handguns, 281 rifles, 22 shotguns, 104 BB guns, and 11 other firearms.

At the press conference, the firearms were enclosed in plastic and sticking out of boxes, laid out on two tables for the public to view with awe.

Jersey City Police Director Sam Jefferson led the conference, lauding the success of the program by listing all the groups, from the Jersey City NAACP to the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, that helped to make it happen.

"Last year, the Jersey City Police Department got 184 guns off the streets through arrests, discoveries, investigations, and assaults," said Jefferson. "So when we took in 897 guns, that tells you something."

Healy answered the program's critics by saying, "I happen to agree 100 percent with our police director Sam Jefferson. These 897 guns that we got off the streets are not going to be able to threaten, injure or kill anyone here in Jersey City."

Healy said there could be an encore of the program sometime before the end of the year.
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