Town Hall - Jersey City Candidates for City Council
Ward E

October 3, 2017 - Portofino, One 2nd St, Jersey City NJ

Candidates: Madeleine Giansanti Cag, Nick Grillo, Jake Hudnut, James Solomon, Rebecca Symes
Moderator: David Weltz
Recording: Alina Oswald

The candidates were asked to directly respond to the following 4 questions. The text of the questions are below the video.

Question 1 - Education

A couple of years ago I was talking to a teacher of Freshman English at Ferris High School in Jersey City. I asked her how much homework she gave each night. She told me she doesn't give any because they don't do it.

Folks who move to the high rises in this area will not send them to a school that doesn't give homework. They quite reasonably, I think, expect their local schools to challenge their children and prepared them to attend the most competitive colleges in America. With the growing number of people who fall into this category, especially in Ward E, these families, require the current government to do the right thing. There are woefully few options, like McNair, with entirely too few openings for these kids. They end up going to private schools or moving.

More money is not the answer. Jersey City ranks 5th out of 27 school districts in Hudson county in per student spending

As the Ward E councilperson, what would you do to insure that before your term is over, every child seeking a rigorous education like at McNair, will be able to get it at a local public school?

Question 2 - PATH

The PATH trains are a main reason people move to downtown Jersey City. However, as more and more people move here, there is precious little done to accommodate these folks. Port Authority has done almost nothing to alleviate the overcrowding, as more and more high rises are built within walking distance of the PATH trains.

The latest solutions are bigger trains, coming slightly more frequently, and ferry service. There are still dozens of buildings yet to be built downtown, not to mention in Newark and Harrison. Not nearly enough infrastructure will be available. So the future for those who dream of living near New York, will result in the nightmare of overcrowded trains. And for the late night and weekend traveler, infrequent trains with a Hoboken detour.

What is required is more PATH tubes. Even a walking tunnel would be helpful. We are open to anything, except this disappointing situation, which we have right now.

What is your ideas to solving this problem?

Question 3 - Powerhouse/Triangle

For as long as I remember, (I have lived in Jersey City for 19 years), the Powerhouse has been heralded as a Jersey City icon. However, it sits there as a symbol of government indecision. In 2009 Jersey City spent $3.4 million dollars stabilizing the building. They decided to paint parts of this classic brick building light blue and bright yellow. It looks like some modern art experiment gone bad.

So, as I understand it, the "dream" is to turn the building into some sort of performing art center or maybe have the outside maintained while the inside is a residential building. No one has a clue what to do and the costs to do it will be at least $40 million. The other complication is Port Authority owns half. The solution some would like to see is for the city to take full ownership of the powerhouse and give Port Authority our green space, the triangle, to build an office building. I think that now that this has become a residential area, and we lack green space, perhaps that would not be a good idea.

So this is where we stand and we need someone to stand up. We need the Councilperson in Ward E to take charge. The 2009 stabilization bought the powerhouse a few more years and that time is ending quickly. $3.4 million wasted. I believe if there isn't an immediate solution coming, let's salvage a green space in the triangle. It's time that the neighbor with the ugly house and poorly maintained lawn with the broken fence step up.

Question 4 - Traffic on Washington St

A few years ago I met with Joao D'Souza. He was the director of traffic and transportation maintenance. I pointed out how things are poorly laid out in the area. The lights are so badly synched on Washington, that it drives traffic to the side streets like Erie and Jersey Avenue. Also, the intersection outside here, on Washington, Greene and 2nd was badly designed. There literally is a turn lane from Washington that turns into parked cars. No kidding! The point is they did nothing.

I have since had to fight for necessary zoning in front of Portofino that we were promised. The unelected bureaucrats decided to back off their agreement and not respond to my emails. I had to literally address the city council and get the higher ups involved to finally get a simple request honored. This building has since been harassed about the zoning by those in the department. Also, they have done nothing to alleviate the problems on Washington. We need a strong advocate going forward who will be willing to take on bureaucrats and get things done.

How do you plan on dealing with career employees who feel emboldened to do what they want? And can we get the problems with this intersection, there are many, fixed?