Hilltop Neighborhood Association President and Former Jersey City Police Officer Announces Council Candidacy

Rich Boggiano, the president of the Hilltop Neighborhood Association and a former Jersey City police officer, has announced that he will again run for Council. The longtime HNA president says he is not yet sure which seat he’ll run for — Ward C or At-Large — or if he’ll appear on a ticket.

But the one certainty is his determination to again make a go at it following a disappointing 6th place finish in last November’s special election.

“What I’m waiting for,” said Boggiano, regarding the specifics of his candidacy, “is to see who else is out there. I don’t know who else is running yet. I’m just sitting back and waiting like everyone else is. We’ve still got plenty of time.”

Boggiano last ran for office in the November 2011 special election, which saw At-Large Councilman Rolando Lavarro and At-Large Councilwoman Viola Richardson take the two seats that Mayor Jerramiah Healy had filled by appointment. At the time Boggiano came up with 2,429 votes, about 900 shy of Lavarro and 1,400 fewer than Richardson.

While the ticket question remains open, Boggiano says mayoral candidate and Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop has approached him as filling a spot on his ticket.

“I’m waiting until they finalize what they’re doing.” said Boggiano. “I’ll probably be on one of the tickets, but I’m waiting until mid-October before I make a final decision. But I’m definitely running. I want to see change in the city.”

Fulop, however, remained vague on the question, writing in an email, “We have no other candidates on the ticket” other than former Jersey City Police Chief Frank Gajewski. “But [we] have been talking to many potential candidates in each ward.”

For all of Jersey City’s quarter of a million residents, the municipal world remains a small one, with tenure in the city a point of pride for those born and raised here. Which is why Boggiano (not a native son but a 37-year vet of the JCPD) knows those at the top.

“I think the world of Jerry Healy,” said Boggiano, “but we have a difference of opinion of how the city is being run.”

One area of city leadership he has been consistently critical of is Business Administrator Jack Kelly.

“A lot of people surrounding Healy have not done the right thing for Jersey City, and Kelly is one of them,” he went on.

A former police officer, Boggiano is angered by what he says Kelly has done to the police force.

“He’s destroying the police department,” said Boggiano, referring to the police department’s protest of proposed cuts and poorly worded opinion of the police that even drew criticism from Healy.

Boggiano insisted that despite the savings in money, Healy’s decision to appoint the assistant budget officer as the police supervisor made the department a “laughingstock.”

Another target for Boggiano is returning control of the school district to Jersey City.

“The state should get out of education and let the city run it. 25 years ago I think the state had a right to come in and do what they did, but now they should get out. We have competent, good people” on the school board.

He also pointed to finding more money for the Department of Public Works and the fire department. “It used to be when you made a call to the city to have something fixed, they’d come right away,’ he said.

Boggiano has a lot to say on the issues, rattling off a list of other areas he’d like to address, such as more federal aid from the state’s U.S. Senators who he says should do more for the city.

“Should I go on?” he asked at one point. Fortunately, as Boggiano says, there’s plenty of time for him to cover all the changes he says are needed in the city. In fact, there’s only about 7 months until the mayoral and council election, which will be held in May of 2013.

Of course, there’s an earlier election in November of 2012 that you’re probably already planning to head out to the polls for. Be sure to note that Ward F Councilwoman Michele Massey’s seat is also up for a vote then. Massey was appointed to the seat by Healy after At-Large Councilwoman Viola Richardson, the former Ward F Councilwoman, won her At-Large seat in November 2011.

Photo courtesy Rich Boggiano

Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.