Steven Fulop has won a third term for mayor in Jersey City, securing the office himself for another four years. He was first elected in 2013 and again in 2017.
His victory was the top of the ticket in this year’s municipal elections, with all of the City Council as well as a number of Board of Education seats up for contention.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Fulop in an interview at his election night party. “It was a humbling experience. A third term in Jersey City is a really hard thing to sustain, but I’m thankful that the people are trusting me to continue the work that we started.”
Lewis Spears, an educator, mounted a progressive challenge against Fulop, but he ultimately conceded the election. He kept an upbeat tone at his election night party and said that they’re not going away.
“At the end of the day, our city cannot be sold to the highest bidder,” said Spears. “Our city is not just about the well connected that deserve chances; that each of you, no matter where you’re from, that your dreams are valid.”
According to unofficial results from the Hudson County Clerk, Fulop came ahead with about 68 percent of the 36,660 votes cast, while Spears obtained about 32 percent of the vote. Fulop was the first mayor to win a third term since the reign of Mayor Frank Hague.
Fulop’s team on track to hold ground in City Council
Across the city, the city council races saw Fulop’s slate holding on to their ground and warding off a number of progressive challengers.
In the At-Large races, Team Fulop’s slate looks to have a clean sweep in the races. Council President Joyce Watterman and Councilman Daniel Rivera came in the top two of the unofficial results. Amy DeGise, the Hudson County Democratic Chairwoman and daughter of Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, had the third most votes, which would be enough to unseat Councilman Rolando Lavarro, who ran as an independent.
Fulop’s slate were also challenged by an opposition slate consisting of Chris Gadsden, a former Ward B Councilman, June Jones, president of the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation, and Elvin Dominic, a banker at J.P. Morgan Chase.
In the individual ward races, Councilwoman Denise Ridley looks set to defeat Kristen Zadroga-Hart, an educator, in Ward A, and Councilwoman Mira-Prinz Arey looks poised to hold off a close race from Joel Brooks, a labor organizer and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, in Ward B.
Councilman Yousef Saleh, who was initially appointed to the Ward D seat following the death of Michael Yun and won a special election last year, declared victory. Based on the unofficial results, Saleh would have the majority of votes in a three-way race between Danielle Freire, a non-profit worker, and John Salierno, to avoid a runoff and win the seat for a full term.
While Fulop’s slate is poised to keep their majority in the city government, progressives still held on to a few victories. In Ward E, Councilman James Solomon won against Fulop backed challenger Jake Hudnut, the Jersey City Municipal Prosecutor. Hudnut conceded at Fulop’s election night party, but vowed to continue his work with Fulop as the city’s prosecutor.
The biggest news of the night happened in Ward F, where Frank “Educational” Gilmore, an educator and activist, won a three-way race between incumbent Jermaine Robinson and Vernon Richardson, an aide to Fulop.
Robinson conceded at the party, but vowed not to go anywhere. Fulop also said that he’s ready to work with Gilmore in the City Council.
The Ward C election seems headed to a runoff, as a three-way race centered around incumbent Rich Boggiano did not see any candidate receive a 50 percent + 1 majority of the vote. Based on the unofficial results, the runoff would be between Boggiano and the second place candidate Kevin Bing, a community activist. Tom Zuppa, a former Hudson County assistant prosecutor, came in third and would be eliminated from contention.
Education Matters looks to prevail
Over at the Jersey City Board of Education, the Education Matters slate looks to have another clean sweep in the elections this year, with Paula J. Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe came in the top three in the unofficial results against the Change for Children slate and two independents.
The election was once again a battle between the Jersey City Education Association union, who backed the Education Matters slate, and a number of developers who financially backed the Change for Children slate.
The final results of all municipal elections will have to be certified.