BAYONNE – Laureana Organ is running this fall for a council seat in Montvale, a tony community in northern Bergen County.
But on this day, she was standing outside the Bayonne train station balancing a sign and handling out literature for the reelection of Mayor Jimmy Davis.
Organ said she’s a political activist and that people she knew in the Davis camp asked her to help. She was happy to oblige.
She admitted not knowing all that much about city issues, but said that her associates in Bayonne tell her that city crime is down and that the economy is good.
Many campaigns bring in outsiders to help, but many times these are paid staffers, not volunteers.
Organ’s trip from Montvale to Bayonne was symbolic perhaps of the encompassing nature of politics in Hudson County.
Dave Robinson was standing a few feet away from Organ dressed in a T-shirt proclaiming his support for mayoral challenger Jason O’Donnell.
“I’m just passing these out,” he said, referring to O’Donnell’s campaign material. Robinson said he was being paid for his labors, but he declined to say how much.
Whether through paid help or out-of-town volunteers, both camps are seeking support from Bayonne residents. About 12,000 of them are expected to vote.
Hudson County elections can be colorful at times.
At the mayor’s reelection headquarters on Broadway, campaign manager Joe DeMarco seemed relaxed.
Things were calm at the moment, but he said the first few hours of voting brought what could be called some predictable problems.
What were they?
Well, campaign stickers were attached to bags of doughnuts delivered to polling places. Such electioneering is against the law. There were also problems with people showing up at polling places without proper credentials.
Just anyone is not allowed to hang out at a polling place. Workers have to be official challengers for the respective campaigns or be poll workers credentialed by the county. DeMarco said Hudson County Election Board inspectors were on hand to make sure the laws were followed.
O’Donnell, the challenger, held forth at his headquarters a few blocks further south on Broadway. He said there had been some silly stuff at the polls.
“Challengers screaming at each other,” he said.
Referring to the nice weather, O’Donnell said he expected turnout to be pretty good.
All campaigns talk about turnout, but those who say a certain candidate is helped by a large turnout are really just guessing.
O’Donnell reiterated a key part of his campaign. The Davis administration is granting too many tax abatements to developers. Supporters say the tax breaks are needed to attract redevelopment.
O’Donnell counters that one problem with abatements is that they reduce the amount of money that goes to the public school system.
“I think people get that,” he said.
One thing one voter gets is that parking in Bayonne is difficult.
Sorab Sharma was passing out O’Donnell election material in front of the city library.
He said city parking is so tough and regulations so strict that he has racked up by his count, “thousands of dollars” in parking tickets.
He said he thinks O’Donnell, who mentions city parking woes on his campaign website, will do something to make parking in Bayonne less troubling – and costly.
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