Fulop: ‘We’ve been Controlling the Narrative’

JERSEY CITY – The traditional image of a Hudson County politician is not exactly a positive one.
But don’t tell that to Steve Fulop, who is both the current mayor and an already-announced candidate for governor in 2025.
Many people were born in Jersey City, he says, and wherever they may live now around New Jersey, “those people cheer for the home team.”

In this case, that would be him.

“I actually think it’s going to be an advantage. There are tens of thousands of Jersey City people everywhere.”

The mayor – and gubernatorial candidate – is not only thinking about a transplant’s nostalgia for their time growing up.

“I think people today perceive Jersey City as a positive story,” he says, referring to its “renaissance.”

Downtown Jersey City is indeed something to appreciate. There are hotels, all sorts of restaurants and bars and a vibrancy to the streets. Fulop commented during a chat at a cafe near City Hall, which itself is in the city’s downtown section.

An obvious observation for anyone looking at Fulop’s gubernatorial campaign is … “Why start so early?” The election is not until the fall of 2025.

His answer has much to do with the nature of the Democratic party in New Jersey.

Local, or county, political organizations mean a lot in terms of getting support and the coveted “county line.”

“What I learned here is that organizing early overcomes any obstacle,” he said. Fulop already is talking about enlisting volunteers and of probably more importance – raising money.

There also is a bipartisan quality to an early start. Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded his 2021 race to Phil Murphy and immediately said he is running again in 2025.

Fulop hosted a fundraiser a short time after we spoke. This one was a low-end affair – $30 a person.
Raising campaign cash, naturally, can demonstrate a candidate’s credibility. We’ll find out soon enough how Fulop, 46, is doing. The quarterly reporting deadline is June 30.

As for that organization support he mentioned, Fulop has been already endorsed by a number of mayors representing a cross section of the state. That includes Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Michele Lee, the mayor of High Bridge in Hunterdon County.

How about the issues?

With the election far away, Fulop says he has time to prepare. He’s going to spend the next few months studying and coming up with position papers.

The actual issues are not a mystery. He’s beginning with taxes, education and transportation.

This is not simple – especially taxes.

Property taxes are probably the biggest complaint one hears from residents. A complication is that the state has no direct control over property taxes, which are levied and collected by local governments – counties, municipalities and school districts.

One answer is consolidation or merging services or maybe even towns in a state that has more than 500 of them. Much easier said than done. Spend time covering New Jersey and you quickly learn no mayor or school board wants to relinquish the power they have. The size of the town or district is irrelevant.

Fulop talks about giving officials a real incentive to merge. How successful that would be is an open question.

More broadly, Fulop says his experience as a mayor gives him an advantage over other Democrats who may enter the race.

That could be two members of Congress – Mikie Sherrill, who is from Essex County, and Josh Gottheimer, who lives in Bergen.

“I have familiarity with issues that others may not,” he says.

Fulop is happy to talk about some of those everyday issues that mayors must handle.

He says the city is in the process of creating up to 2,000 new classrooms in both conventional public schools and charter schools.

As for transportation, the mayor mentions such initiatives as more bike sharing, a ferry link across the Hudson and a proposal to add another stop to the PATH line.
More details on issues are sure to come, but as of now – about 23 months before the gubernatorial primary, Fulop seems content.
“We’ve been controlling the narrative,” he says.
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One response to “Fulop: ‘We’ve been Controlling the Narrative’”

  1. If Fulop, Mikie Sherrill, Josh Gottheimer or
    Jack Ciattarelli are the only potential gubernatorial candidates, NJ is in more trouble than it already is today.

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