JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – In Jersey City, the new mayor – Steve Fulop – can usually be found hard at work behind his desk well before 8 a.m.
That’s where WCBS 880’s Steve Scott found him Monday for the Eye on Politics segment.
“We’ve been there three weeks now. We’re getting in at 7 a.m. We’re leaving probably close to 11 p.m.,” Fulop told Scott. “A lot of young people that we’ve hired here and a lot of energy, but a lot of work to do. It’s been a tough three weeks getting things settled.”
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Fulop is a veteran of Goldman Sachs and, after 9/11, the United States Marine Corps. Why did he run for mayor of Jersey City?
“I just love the opportunity to make a difference. I really think that the opportunity today is not really at the federal level or even at the state level to make change. It’s really on the local level. You have all this gridlock at different levels of government and the most meaningful opportunity is at the local level,” Fulop said. “I saw Jersey City as a really special place that was under-achieving and a unique opportunity to really turn it into kind of the best mid-size city in the country.”
His top goal is improving public safety and he has hired former NYPD Deputy Chief James Shea.
“Priority number one is safety and then that leads to investment and that leads to people kind of wanting to stay here,” Fulop said.
How would Fulop make Jersey City a destination instead of just something drivers pass through on their way into or out of the Holland Tunnel?
“I think that we are going to need to change how people in New York view Jersey City and people around the state. It has really changed into this arts and culture hub actually and there’s a lot of young families and we have an improving school system,” Fulop said. “But people don’t realize that. So, part of my job is to focus on the branding of the city and to really market the city as a great place to move your business, as a great place to raise your family, and a great place that one can live for a long, long time.”
Scott asked if there is room for both the gentrified neighborhoods and the traditional ethnic neighborhoods to co-exist.
Fulop said yes and cited the over 70 languages spoken in the public schools.
“Our best asset in Jersey City is our diversity. So, we really need to kind of make sure that that stays in Jersey City,” he added.
On the city’s aging infrastruture, Fulop said it has long been neglected. But he is working to tackle the problem of flooding and the sewer system.
The two then discussed the history of political corruption in Jersey City, including the infamous Mayor Frank Hague, who served from 1917 to 1947.
Scott ended the interview by asking what the future holds.
“When we’re done in Jersey City, I would hope that it is recognized as one of the best mid-sized cities in the country and I think it really is doable. We have a lot of things to offer here – our proximity to New York, our arts and culture scene, our transportation infrastructure. So, there are things that we can capitalize on that we haven’t. We have Liberty State Park, which is several times larger than Central Park,” Fulop said. “It’s just a tremendous opportunity and my administration’s job is to really move the city forward in a way that we are recognized nationally, and I think we can do it.”
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