Data-obsessed and bent on
efficiency, new mayor Steven Fulop
moves aggressively to implement
his vision for Jersey City.
BY AMANDA STAAB
ECOMING THE MAYOR of Jersey City was a walk in
the park for Steven Fulop. All he had to do was defeat
Jerramiah Healy, a longtime incumbent with strong
ties to the powerful Hudson County Democratic machine and
endorsements from such brand-name influencers as Cory
Booker, Frank Lautenberg and, oh yes, President Barack Obama.
Despite the artillery Healy marshalled in the nonpartisan
election last May, the 36-year-old Fulop, a former Wall Street
equities trader who entered politics less than a decade ago, captured 53 percent of the vote and sent the incumbent packing.
Fulop—who, as a city councilman, earned a reputation as an
effective reformer—based his mayoral campaign on creating a
more responsive, more effective government, fighting crime,
capitalizing on the city’s assets and improving the schools. Mean-
while, Healy had to live down a history of bizarre behavior and
the taint his administration suffered in the federal sting operation
of 2009, which targeted a number of Hudson County officials.
With his victory, Fulop became the hot new flavor for Jersey
Democrats hoping to take back the state’s leadership in 2017.
“He’s young, aggressive, willing to work,” says a local commu-
nity leader, Dr. M. Rafiq Chaudhry. “He’s the prospect to be the
future governor of the state of New Jersey.”
Fulop supporters say his mayoralty rejects the same-old-
same-old. “He’s brought a brand of new politics and a real vi-
sion for how Jersey City can break from its history of political
patronage,” says City Council President Rolando Lavarro.
Since taking office in July, Fulop has moved swiftly to implement key elements of his plan for the 15-square-mile city on Hudson County’s Gold Coast. He has redirected development away
from the already bustling waterfront to historically neglected
inner-city neighborhoods, consolidated the police and fire departments under a single public safety director, pushed through a controversial ordinance requiring private businesses to give their employees paid sick time, and initiated a prisoner reentry program he
SUITED FOR THE JOB: Steven Fulop was not intent
on a career in public service, but he got the political
bug after a Quixotic run for Congress at age 25.