After a period of absence from political office, Jeffrey Dublin is making a return to Hudson County government.
Since 2004, Dublin, a Democrat and a Jersey City resident, has made his way through the county’s politics, beginning with being elected to the Jersey City Board of Education, and then spent a decade as a Hudson County Freeholder (now known as Commissioner after a name change last year).
Although there was a brief feud with Hudson County Democratic Organization near the end of his tenure as a freeholder, he said that he and the party have reconciled their differences and are looking towards the future.
“Now we are working on moving the party forward,” said Dublin in an interview. “That was something that happened in the past, and we don’t dwell on it.”
With the backing of the party, Dublin is now set to become the Hudson County Register after winning in the general election, and is coming back to the county’s political scene.
The County Register office
The Office of the Register of Deeds and Mortgages handles documents of property and land in Hudson County, and is elected county-wide every five years.
Diane Coleman, the current holder, was a former Jersey City Councilwoman who was elected to the office in 2016, and worked on bringing the office to the 21st century via being able to access documents online and cross train the staff. At 74-years-old, she is retiring after her term ends this year.
“I could not do another five years,” said Coleman. “I’ve been working my whole life since I was a teenager. I want to just have one moment to be able to sit down and look back on the years and still be able to walk or go to the store. I don’t want to get to the point where I’m going to need a walker or something like that and still be coming to work.”
The county Democrats selected Dublin to run as register this year, with the county’s mayors putting his name in, including Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. Dublin won the Democratic primary in June against Melissa Alexander, and then ultimately won the office in the general election in November against Walter Schneider, a Republican who is an attorney from Bayonne, in a landslide in the heavily Democratic county.
Dublin’s plan for the County Register is to bring the office more into the community. “During the campaign, a lot of people were asking ‘What is a county register?’,” he said. “So we’re going to put out a team to go out during the summer with information sessions and make sure people know what the office provides for Hudson County residents.”
A long history in Hudson County governance
Jeffrey Dublin began working in governance as a worker in the Hudson County Road Department in 1990, making his way up from a truck driver to a supervisor. He got inspired to run for public office by his father, Matthew Dublin, who was an aide to Councilman Fred Martin, the first African American to have ever been elected to the Jersey City Council.
Dublin was first elected to the Jersey City Board of Education in 2004. It wouldn’t take long before he went for higher office by getting elected as a freeholder in District 3 of Hudson County that year to fill a vacancy.
“You got to work on different legislation to help improve the county,” said Dublin of his experience as a freeholder. “A lot of things that you [see] as a general worker are some of the things you want to start working on when you become an elected official.”
The following year, Dublin went on to win a full term as freeholder, and was reelected to two more terms twice. He also became the deputy executive director of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority and later as assistant deputy director of the Jersey City Department of Public Works when the Incinerator Authority was merged.
His quest for a third term as freeholder however would end in him vacating the seat when he was taken off of the Democratic ticket in the 2014 primary, after he supported then-Mayor Jerramiah Healy and was critical of then-Councilman Steve Fulop in the 2013 Jersey City mayoral race.
Dublin still ran in the primary, but eventually lost to Gerald Balmir, who replaced him on the Democratic line and was endorsed by Fulop.
Despite the flare up that year, Dublin said that he’s worked out the differences between those from before, and is in a “great relationship” with the local Democratic party. He made another attempt for his old seat in 2017, but he opted out when Jerry Walker got the nod to replace Balmir, who had decided not to seek reelection that year.
“Jeff Dublin has long been a valued community leader in Hudson County and he served on the Freeholder board with distinction,” said Phil Swibinski, a spokesperson for the HCDO. “When Diane Coleman decided to leave the Register’s Office he was an excellent choice to succeed her. ”
Through it all, Dublin said he will work to make the Register office responsible and accountable. “You’re gonna hear nothing but good things coming out of the Register office,” he said. “When you go out during festivals or covering any community event, you’ll see a tent that says ‘Hudson County Register’, and we will be providing information to residents.”