To the Editor:
As the municipal election approaches, I would ask Bayonne voters to view it not as one election, but as six in which each voter can participate in four. We need to move away from the “Vote Row A All the Way” mentality which has plagued Bayonne for decades and elect people based on their qualifications and issue engagement, not which “team” they are on. Such team voting creates narrow group think policymaking which compounds errors and refuses to consider alternatives originating outside the “team.”
The first three elections are the ones for the ward council members. Each voter can participate in one. In selecting a candidate, we should consider whether the incumbent has adequately reflected the desires of his constituents, worked to improve the quality of life in the ward and actively engaged with the constituency to ascertain its needs and wants. In judging the challengers, we need to determine if they have ever been engaged on the issues or offered criticisms and alternatives before deciding to run. I would also like ward council members to give great deference to the view of a ward council member on issues which uniquely impact that member’s ward.
The next two contests are the council at large seats. Here we need to determine if the incumbents have shown an ability to work with all the ward council members and integrate ward needs to citywide goals. Again the challengers must answer questions about their prior engagement and whether they have ever articulated criticisms and alternatives to the programs they fault during a campaign.
Last, we have the mayoralty. Do we reelect the incumbent or change? Bayonne has had six mayors in about 25 years: Rutkowski, Kiczek, Doria, the Malloy interregnum, Smith and Davis. This instability has created stop and start development because each change brought new developers, new visions, new city hall administrators and new plans. Lawsuits ensued and we created many vacant storefronts, empty lots and abandoned holes in the ground. MOTBY sat mostly fallow. Mr. Davis has created a certain momentum here, some of which I agree with. Some I disagree with. The challengers rail against the current direction and promise yet another change to Bayonne’s future. So we must decide, do we risk another jolting halt to our development leading to yet another new set of plans, developers, and bureaucrats or do we stay the current course which will likely determine both the long and short term future of the city. Decide we must.