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Despite the pumping in of millions of dollars by Airbnb to overturn an ordinance limiting short-term rentals, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop goes into the election on Nov. 5 feeling confident of victory.
“Airbnb spent $4.5 million,” Fulop said. “I think we are organized though and have worked hard so we will be successful.”
This will be the first time in the country that it goes to the voters other than in San Francisco where Airbnb actually won, Fulop added.
Hudson County View reported that four political committees have raised money fore the conflict, and that more than $4 million came directly from Airbnb corporate headquarters in California, and nearly $750,000 has been spent to hire several public relations firms to convince voters to overturn the ordinance the City Council adopted last June.
But big money also poured in from another faction that is supporting the restrictions, with one group called Sharebetter Education Fund spending as much as $750,000, while a hotel association based in New York City has donated at least $400,000 to back the restrictions.
The question centers on the ability of Airbnb to convince local voters that the revenues generated through the hotel tax will benefit the city, while Fulop believes the industry has gotten out of control.
“When we approved this back in 2015 there were 300 operators, all of them mom and pop short-term rental businesses. But now there are more than 3,000 and many of them are corporate hotels.”
Fulop believes that he can get out his vote to maintain the restrictions, despite the fact that Airbnb has been waging a phone and email campaign to contact anyone in the city who has ever used the platform on their trips elsewhere in the world.
One pollical observer said this is a very powerful campaign by Airbnb, but other observers see the election hinging on the get out of the vote on Nov. 5
“If Fulop gets out his vote, he wins,” another observer said.
Fulop acknowledged that this is a big fight for him politically, and that he needs not only to win the short-term rental fight, but to win a sweep on the school board election where he is backing the mostly incumbent ticket Education Matters.
The school fight recently devolved into name calling, and allegations of homophobia – an extremely negative campaign that seems to defy logic since nearly all of the candidates are considered progressive.
“I think we can win both,” Fulop said.