Jersey City Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop has never made his mayoral aspirations a secret, but with Mayor Jerramiah Healy being visited by the FBI, he acknowledges the possibility that he may have to run sooner than he expected to.
“I think whether Healy stays or goes is out of my control. We are preparing for the case that he does step down,” said Fulop, who is holding a $20 per head fundraiser at the Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden in downtown Jersey City tonight.
Fulop is also preparing for two possible future City Council vacancies: the at-large seat of Council President Mariano Vega, who was arrested for allegedly taking bribes in July; and the Ward C seat of Nidia Lopez, who is facing a lawsuit that claims she’s technically a resident of Orlando, Fla.
Although Fulop does not have an interest in running for Vega’s at-large seat if it opens up, he wants to be able to help another candidate.
Fulop, who came into the council as a good government reformer and is the only member who did not run on the “Team Healy” slate, saw his profile rise as media flooded the city over the summer.
Healy, who was just sworn into his second four year term in July, was not among the Jersey City politicians and officials arrested in July’s massive corruption sweep, although he did turn up as “JC Official 4” in a criminal complaint that cited him meeting with the FBI’s cooperating witness. Last month, the FBI visited Healy at his shore home in Bradley Beach, and agents visited several City Hall offices last week.
Fulop last week used the negative attention the city got from the corruption busts to win passage of a long sought after anti pay-to-play law after making a few compromises with council members.
“This is all consistent with the new laws,” he said. “I am motivated to raise money under these circumstances and to set the bar early at a high level for others anticipating the potential of three elections in Jersey City in the near term.”
Although Zeppelin Hall is owned by a major developer, Peter Mocco, Fulop said that the hall is a large and convenient place to hold the event and that Mocco has never contributed to his campaign.
“I am paying a bill for the place and there is absolutely no in-kind contribution whatsoever,” he said.
Fulop plans two more fundraisers in the near term, including a high-dollar one at a Jersey City restaurant next week.