At their last meeting as members of the Bayonne City Council, residents said their goodbyes to outgoing Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace and outgoing City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.
Gullace opted not to run for re-election after being booted from Mayor James Davis’ council slate, and Ashe-Nadrowski lost her bid for mayor in the 2022 non-partisan municipal election.
Send off for Sal and Sharon
At the top of the June 15 meeting, Ashe-Nadrowski highlight it was Gullace’s last meeting as the councilman for the Second Ward. Gullace then gave a short speech thanking all those who have helped him over the years.
“I’d like to say thank you to Chief [Keith] Weaver in the back, for every time I called you you answered. So thank you,” Gullace said. “Chief [Robert] Geisler’s not here, but thank you to you too… Beth, our secretary, she’s not here but she did a lot for the eight years that I was here. And Tommy Cotter DPW, too… Joe [Ryan], you always answered my calls, thank you… Thank you to my friends and family… So thanks to everybody out there. I appreciate your support.”
Gullace also thanked those who offered him and his family support in the wake of the waste collection truck accident he was involved in as part of his work for the Hudson County Improvement Authority.
“The residents out there, when I got hurt, everybody pulled together and sent my family food,” Gullace said. “That was appreciated. Thanks to everybody out there.”
In closing, Gullace wished the returning council members luck in their upcoming terms: “Everybody up here, good luck for the next four years,” Gullace said.
Following Gullace’s short speech, Ashe-Nadrowski also highlighted it was her last meeting as City Council President and an At-Large City Councilwoman.
“I’d just like to say I enjoyed working for the residents of Bayonne,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I’m honored to have served as council president for the last eight years. I think I learned a lot about the residents of Bayonne and the city of Bayonne. I think we did a lot of good things, things that will continue on in Bayonne for a long time. I’m proud of everything that we did, proud of my service, and proud of the people of Bayonne.”
The Planning Board meeting the day before on June 14 was also Ashe-Nadrowski’s last. During the meeting, she also gave short goodbye to her role as the council’s designee on the board.
“I think we did a lot of great things,” Ashe-Nadrowski said to the board, referencing responsible residential redevelopment as well as much-needed commercial redevelopment like Costco and Starbucks. “There were a few little bumps on things that could have been done better. But we only get better at what we’re doing. I’m sure there will be a lot of great things moving forward and I wish you all the best.”
‘Do not go gentle into that good night’
At the June council meeting, a number of residents took to the podium to thank Gullace and Ashe-Nadrowski for their service on the council. And many encouraged them to remain involved.
Dave Solari, a resident who frequently spoke at meetings, bid both Gullace and Ashe-Nadrowski farewell. First, Solari congratulated the returning and new council members: “I’d like to congratulate the ones that won. Just remember, you’re still being watched.”
Solari then addressed Ashe-Nadrowski, complimenting and criticizing her campaign in retrospect: ”When eight years ago, I had nothing to do with this administration. I had nothing to do with it four years ago. It was a very hard decision to see who you wanted to go with. There wasn’t too many things out there to pick from, and you ran a good campaign. You really did. Honestly I think you should have got out there a little sooner or whatever, but it’s over and done with.”
Additionally, Solari encouraged Ashe-Nadrowski to stay involved with the council, and potentially run again for office in 2026.
“You could be the watchdog now,” Solari said. “Four years comes fast, don’t count yourself out. You only lost to that guy by a few numbers. He had the machine, he had the money, he had Jersey City. He had all them, he even had county people. He was playing the role. And he should be a disgrace to himself, but don’t count yourself out. Come back in four years. Come to these meetings each month and show them. Because you are a very good person and you did run these council meetings good. You were a fighter. We had the battles, I’m not going to say we didn’t. But I wasn’t going to lose.”
Ashe-Nadrowski jokingly quipped back: “I don’t like to lose either… I never shied away from a good fight.”
Solari continued: “Good luck whatever you do for the next four years. But just remember, you can come back. You can run. You can win.”
Then Solari addressed Gullace: “Sal we had our battles, on and off, in here, on the street. But you are a friend. You always stayed a friend, because we go back a long tie. Good luck, but your problem was your friends sold you out. If you still have that guy as your friend, get rid of him, because he’s not a friend. He played the mayor’s role, you know who he is and that’s all that matters. But listen, four years comes fast too. Come here, you know what’s going. Good luck whatever you do. I hope your recovery gets faster and I hope you’re back to work soon.”
Ashe-Nadrowski encourages residents to stick around
Solari ended by stating he may no longer come to council meetings: “Good luck everybody. I don’t know if I will be back again. Maybe one more time, and that’s it.”
Ashe-Nadrowski encouraged residents to remain involved regarding the city council, even in the wake of the recent election. The meeting was already remarkably more empty following months of meetings packed with residents opining on key issues prior to the vote in May.
“I’m sad to hear that because, in all seriousness, it’s very important for the public to engage and participate,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I have been very lenient and some of my colleagues didn’t appreciate that I let people talk and express their opinion longer than they should. But we are here to serve the people and that is our thing. If we don’t listen to them, we certainly don’t know what their needs are. So I thank you all who come out here regularly and put your time in because you care.”
Gail Godesky, a resident and former city employee, echoed Solari in encouraging Ashe-Nadrowski to remain active in the community and local government.
“Madam president, thank you for being honest, transparent, and true to your word during your eight years of service,” Godesky said. “There were times when you took a lot of heat and a lot of it I did give. And I don’t apologize for that. It just made me more educated. It led to more knowledge for me and the residents of Bayonne. I echo what everybody said. The city really should appreciate you and your wisdom… I appreciate you, thank you for your service and hopefully I’ll see you around town.”
Godesky also shared kinds words about Gullace: “Sal, you were not my councilman, but any time I needed help you were always there for me. I appreciate your kindness, especially during COVID. What you and Donna did for the residents of the city of Bayonne along with Sharon and our Business Administrator [Melissa Mathews] to make sure that the seniors had food, you sat in your kitchen and cooked up a storm and delivered it. I will never forget that. I wish you all the best and success in your future endeavors… As the other gentlemen put it, don’t leave behind your wisdom. Your knowledge is true to heart and I know you care.”
Onward and upward
Lastly, Godesky echoed Solari when it comes to the current council: “For the rest of the council sitting up there, I hope you learned a hard lesson and I hope you will be working for the residents of the city of Bayonne and not the developers… There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and I hope in the near future we can see some progress. So to everybody, much success, be safe, and stay healthy.”
Another frequent face at Bayonne council meetings, Edward “Lefty” Grimes added: “Thank you Sharon for your service and your leadership. Sal, thank you too. Good luck to you both.”
At the end of the meeting, before adjourning, Ashe-Nadrowski offered some final parting words: “Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving here for the last eight years. It’s been an honor working with the people here in City Hall and the residents of Bayonne.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.