N.J. Democratic gubernatorial aspirant Sen. Barbara Buono made a campaign stop in Kearny last Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Siena’s Ristorante, where she picked up an endorsement from the Kearny Dems Organization.
At the same time, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos seized the opportunity to announce his slate of candidates for the June 4 Primary. Santos, who is also clerk to the Hudson County freeholders, will be seeking a fourth term as the town’s chief executive.
Council candidates aligned with Santos are: incumbents Alexa Arce, Carol Jean Doyle and Michael Landy in the First, Third and Fourth Wards, respectively; and newcomer Richard Konopka in the Second Ward.
Second Ward incumbent Madeline Peyko, who has served 10 years on the council, is relocating to south Jersey after having retired from her job with the Ernst & Young accounting firm.
Konopka, who has served on the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment 13 years and is now board chairman, is a plant manager for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission where he’s worked more than two decades.
Arce, an administrative assistant with Bank of America, is seeking her fourth term on the council, as is Landy, a teacher at Harrison High School. Doyle, who has been on the council since 1998 and is seeking her seventh term, sits on a host of local community organizations and helps her husband Norman Doyle Jr. in his local law office.
Carol Jean Doyle shared one-on-one with the Observer how it is a new experience for her because she never takes people or anything she does for granted.
“I am very passionate about the administration I represent.” She stated emphatically.
Doyle elaborated on her statement:
“It is not an easy time to be an elected official because the funds are limited. It has put a toll on much of the plans we would like to do…you make it work.”
Doyle went on to discuss how she sees people in the local grocery store, and how some people come up to her addressing issues important to them such as affordable and quality education for their children. Doyle takes these every day interactions to heart because she wants people to know that they are being heard, and not simply another vote that will make or break someone winning an election.
Alexa Arce said that her driving force for becoming an elected official in Kearny was someone asking her to run because of some changes made to the Democratic Party at the time. Arce also had a desire to share her own ideas with the mayor.
“I care about my town with everything we face…budgeting, taxes, safety…this is the best town you could ever live in.”
During her tenure with Mayor Santos’s administration, Arce saw these changes come to life.
In Mayor Santos’s kick-off speech he reviews: “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together. Despite trying economic times, we’ve balanced consecutive budgets with sound fiscal management that has led to a higher bond rating while at the same time providing the level of municipal services that our residents deserve. Public safety has been our first priority and I’m proud to report that our streets are safer with crime at a 10-year low. We’ve also built new infrastructure, expanded and improved our playgrounds and recreational spaces, and assured open town government that’s accessible to all residents.”
Like Doyle, the other candidates spoke briefly with the Observer.
Michael Landy stated: “[I am] proud to be working with our team, Mayor Santos and his administration for the last 10 years. [I] never before worked with a more conscientious group of people looking forward to moving the town forward.”
Richard Konopka said: “I am honored to be representing the Democratic Party in the upcoming election. I am excited to be working with town council and the mayor to improve the quality of life for all the residents of Kearny.”
The highlight of the evening was when Barbara Buono spoke about her platform in running for the office of governor. Her speech echoed the thoughts, ideas and platforms of the other candidates as she shared her own story representative of the middleclass man and woman.
“As the daughter of an Italian immigrant butcher and a substitute teacher, I understand the challenges New Jersey’s working and middle class families face because I lived through them. I put myself through college and law school by working multiple jobs and never expected anyone to give me anything… but I look around at today’s New Jersey, and not everyone is getting the same chance to create a better life by putting in the work. So as Governor, I will work to lift our economy to provide opportunity for every child of New Jersey by making college more affordable, creating partnerships between our higher education system and emerging markets, and putting New Jerseyans to work to fix our roads and bridges. These policies are the foundation for a strong middle class in New Jersey.”
“With the critical status of our state, it is no wonder that the people need firsthand experience in the hard work it takes to not only to be heard, but to bring back the population of people who originated hard work at its finest-the middle class.”