When you think of the Ward D council race this year start with the name Michael Yun.
Incumbent Councilman Yun is trying to rewrite the definition of victory by announcing that he’s not running for mayor but rather trying to engineer a City Hall takeover by running a slate of “independent” council candidates – without a top of the ticket.
A pragmatic man, Yun probably understands he is an underdog in any head-to-head battle with incumbent Mayor Steve Fulop. It’s easier to become the city power by taking away the mayor’s ability to control legislation. Yun likes to call it checks and balances with a bit of lean toward checks. It’s the kind of announcement that gets anti-administration fervor racing and sparks a gung-ho spirit among those who see Fulop as a quasi-benevolent dictator — and I’m sure they feel I’m being soft in my description.
Yun still has yet to name his running mates. There is a short supply of superstars who can catch the imagination. The councilman will be content with good neighbor types whose names are familiar enough in their wards. Even Fulop is having difficulty filling those empty slots. Don’t get me wrong, there are more than enough people asking to join the incumbents and Yun has had requests as well. The problem is if you chose someone too early, you reap the anger of the others.
BOB AND WEAVE
All the wards provide a puncher’s chance. At least five or six candidates will seek council seats and more than likely this will mean runoffs where anything is possible – except that there will be more city workers and administration backers casting ballots during the December holidays than the average locals. If you’re a challenger, a first round KO is the best bet – and unlikely.
Yun can count on Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano and after that he has to do some terrific fly fishing to reel in four or five possible realistic contenders. One big trout he’d love to land is Ward B Councilman Chris Gadsen who took his seat in a hurricane of a special election upset. The problem with Gadsen is he’s projecting a bit of uncertainty about where to go from here.
No one is a certainty; even Boggiano may have tougher sledding this time around because of the fall election and the holiday spirit runoff. Being part of a ticket could help but it’s hard for an “independent” to join anything. Yun also needs to keep his eye on the prize, his own seat.
There was some thought in the administration to again run former 33rd District Assemblyman and local cop Sean Connors for Ward D. Connors ran on the 2013 Fulop ticket – after previously describing the head of his ticket as “un-American” –but lost to Yun. The feeling among administration folks – ahem, say well-embedded sources — is that the November race is a different animal and Fulop and company would consider a big effort (money) into pulling out the thorn in their side. It was also noticed that Connors is once again popping up anywhere there is a Heights community event.
Unfortunately for Connors, 33rd District Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack is not enamored with his former fellow state legislator. Connors’ loyalty was questioned. Stack has high expectations – a big work ethic – when it comes to Assembly people in his district. Connors was dropped. Another one-term assemblyman was Ruben Ramos of Hoboken, who received the white glove dust test from Stack and failed. It’s amazing that Jersey City’s Raj Mukherji is still in that state legislative seat. Stack’s opinion on the Heights candidate means much to Fulop who is hoping for the senator’s political help in the November race.
Is candidate Yun a shoo-in? It’s too early to tell. More names will crop up. One that has is that of Moriah “Mo” Kinberg. I wouldn’t be wrong in using the term “civic warrior.” Kinberg has become a factor in Ward D because of her community volunteering and activist efforts, according to Heights sources.
Her Moroccan roots can also be attractive to the Middle Eastern residents of the city, a fact that could put a dent in Yun’s backing. She is fundraising and holding meet and greets. What I like is that Kinberg’s a dog person, according to locals. Also, she’s tantamount to an elected official by infusing herself into community concerns. You may say she is providing constituent services. Hmmm.
There have been no blockbuster announcements in this campaign to date but it’s very early. With all the people clamoring to be on a ticket, it is to the benefit of the administration to hold off on announcing candidates and go into stealth mode. Their interests at the moment involve fundraising and endorsements. Expect at least one surprise blessing next month. This election story will drag out a bit and we’ll revisit candidates’ aspirations several more times.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Agustin C. Torres’ columns appear in The Jersey Journal, usually every Saturday. Quick Ward E and F summaries will have to wait until after the Memorial Day Weekend.