Zanowic had already announced in November that he was running to wrest away the city’s chief executive seat from Mayor Mark Smith. Police Captain James Davis had formerly announced the same intention.
Approximately 120 supporters packed the small restaurant. The kickoff got under way late, as attendees had a hard time finding parking following the four-alarm fire on 10th Street between Avenue C and Broadway earlier in the day. Several thoroughfares in the area were still blocked off with barricades.
Much of the talk during the evening was of a “past” Bayonne, with attendees referring to a then-thriving Broadway shopping area, moderate taxes, and less doubt about the future.
The official program began with spokesman Peter Franco’s and Zanowic’s thanks to firefighters for their efforts in quelling the blaze that afternoon. That was followed by a violin performance, and then words of encouragement from the candidate’s daughter, Stephanie.
Like her father, the younger Zanowic referred to his boxing acumen.
“I knew if anyone got into a physical fight with him, they’d be in trouble, but I eventually learned he was a good verbal fighter as well,” she said. “And I think that’s what Bayonne needs: someone who won’t back down from a fight, even when it’s difficult, even when people say you can’t win.”
Zanowic started off his speech by saying that Bayonne’s closest Hudson County neighbors had experienced revitalization, but that was not the case here in town.
“We’ve all seen in recent years the rebirth of Hoboken, and the downtown and other sections of Jersey City,” he said. “Why have we not seen this in Bayonne?”
Zanowic, who is the Hudson Lanes bowling alley manager, pledged to bring the city’s Broadway retail area back to its former prominence, attracting new businesses to the avenue and finding ways to retain the stores that already exist.
“We will work as a team. My city council members and I will implement a plan that will focus on bringing Broadway back to what was its glory days,” Zanowic said.
Broad political base
Zanowic said his base is diverse and includes the backing of businessmen and women, homeowners, tenants, teachers, and the “younger generation.”
Rosanna Villa was one member of that coalition there to sing the praises of the former congressional candidate. She’s known him for 20 years.
“I think he’s got great ideas,” she said. “He’s passionate and serious; he’s a good guy, inside and out. There’s no one more true.”
Antonio Garcia also knows Zanowic well.
“He’s very confident. He’s persistent,” Garcia said. “He's not a politician. He wants to do the best for the people of Bayonne and make it better for all of us, now and in the future, for our kids and grandkids. I think he’s the right man for the job.”
Rallying behind him
Zanowic’s fellow ticket members were also at the event. They included First Ward candidate Daniel Herrera, Second Ward hopeful Washington Flores, and at-large challenger John Milan Sebik. At press time, candidates for the Second Ward and the Second At-Large slots had not been selected.
Herrera said he’s running alongside Zanowic after being impressed by him during a 2010 meeting.
“He seemed like he’s a genuine candidate,” he said. “He’s honest and supportive. I said, ‘This is a guy I want to get behind.’”
Sebik echoed Herrera’s opinion of Zanowic, citing it as a reason for his seeking office himself.
“I’m not running to be a politician,” said the at-large council candidate. “I’m running to be a ‘people-tician’—a voice for the people.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.