Jersey City Recall Group Kicks Off Signature Drive Against Mayor Healy

At a press conference timed to coincide with Wednesday’s City Council meeting, a group of about a dozen Jersey City residents announced the official start of their effort to recall Mayor Jerramiah Healy. Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a logo resembling a “Do Not Enter” road sign that read, “Recall Team Healy,” the group emphasized Healy’s associations with disgraced Jersey City pols in their remarks to the press.

Recall committee member John Lynch ticked off the names of some Jersey City officials and political candidates who were caught up in last July’s explosive federal corruption sting: former deputy mayor Leona Beldini, former Ward B councilman Phil Kenny, 2009 Ward E council candidate Guy Catrillo and former At-Large councilman Mariano Vega, who resigned his seat Monday and pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge on Tuesday.

“Healy has surrounded himself with nothing but … corruption,” Lynch said.

The official committee to recall Mayor Healy consists of three city residents: Lynch, Martha Larkins and Riaz Wahid. But the attempt to recall Healy is part of an ambitious effort being mounted against several city elected officials.

According to Lynch, there are also committees in place to recall council president Peter Brennan, Ward A councilman Michael Sottolano and Ward C councilwoman Nidia Lopez. Lynch added that committees to recall At-Large councilwoman Willie Flood, Ward D councilman Bill Gaughan and Ward F councilwoman Viola Richardson are “finalizing” the paperwork required for their formation. A committee to recall former At-Large councilman Mariano Vega was rendered moot this week after Vega’s resignation.

City clerk Robert Byrne approved the Healy recall petitions on Monday. Lynch says the group has already collected “close to 1,000 signatures” in the last two days. The group must collect signatures from a total of 30,067 registered voters by February 22 of next year. If they do so, an election will be held in which voters will indicate whether they think the mayor should be removed from office.

Larkins said today that the group has “dozens of people” supporting the effort by collecting signatures, and she appealed to the public to get involved by contacting the recall committee. Lynch later added that representatives of the recall group “will be appearing at festivals and events” to collect signatures and recruit volunteers.

Along with the petition they are circulating, the recallers are required by state law to include a statement from Mayor Healy in his own defense. In his statement, Healy lists his accomplishments while in office, including offsetting property tax increases with furloughs, a hiring freeze and layoffs, cleanup of toxic sites and the paving of “70 miles of pothole-ridden streets.”

“I respectfully request … you don’t sign this petition, but rather let me finish the job to which I was elected by a strong majority,” Healy writes.

Other than the statement, the Healy administration has not commented on the recall effort.