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Jersey Journal article about our Candidate's Forum

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Posted by David Casson on April 16, 2005 at 07:43:10:

Ward B candidates say focus is policing
Friday, April 15, 2005
By Maria Zingaro Conte
Journal staff writer

Beefing up police presence was the topic on the lips and minds of the six candidates vying for Jersey City's Ward B seat on the City Council as they squared off at a candidates forum Tuesday night.

Incumbent Mary Donnelly is not seeking re-election.

During the nearly two-hour debate at St. Paul's Church on Duncan Avenue, sponsored by the West Bergen/Lincoln Park Neighborhood Coalition, all six stressed the need for a return to community policing to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in the ward.

"My main concern is to have a foot patrol, a police foot patrol in our neighborhood," said Gregorio Racelis, a real estate agent and former commissioner with the Jersey City Housing Authority and the Jersey City Parking Authority.

Paul Catsandonis, an attorney for Allstate Insurance Company, said he also supported the creation of foot patrols for the neighborhood and would restore neighborhood patrol booths, where police could be based.

Michael Galdieri, a trading associate with Princeton Hill Associates and a former legislative aide to Assemblyman Louis Manzo, D-Jersey City, said he would push for community police officers to meet regularly with block associations to build strong relationships.

Several candidates also said police should be used to enforce speeding and noise regulations.

"There are ordinances with regard to noise pollution so we expect police should be taking care of it," said Ivan Sutherland, an attorney with a private practice in Jersey City.

Ronald Greco, a history teacher at Lincoln High School, said foot patrols could be armed with radar guns and speeders could be sent tickets through the mail.

But Mary Spinello, a deputy executive director of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, who also favors increased community policing, cautioned against spreading police resources too thin.

"Unfortunately . there are some more serious crimes that are going on," she said. "The police are a little bit taken up with that."

Property taxes were also a hot topic. Asked if any would support raising taxes to provide improved municipal services, Racelis said he would not.

"We cannot afford, especially our senior citizens, to have a tax increase," he said.

Galdieri also opposed an increase.

"I don't think there is a need to raise taxes," said Galdieri. "There is enough money we could cut out of the budget from all departments."

Sutherland was more equivocal.

"It sort of depends," he said, noting that increased revenues could come from heftier fees, rather than a simple property tax increase.

Spinello said she tends to oppose tax increases, but would push to make department heads more accountable for how they spend money.

"I think departments can scale back," she said, noting that if a municipal department is supposed to provide a service, the service should be provided regardless of staffing levels.

Greco called for a curb on tax abatements, saying that the council has not been accountable to the public when it came to awarding the tax breaks.

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