NEW BAYONNE MAYOR GETS RIGHT TO WORK TRYING TO SOLVE HIS CITY’S PROBLEMS Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith announced that he participated in a meeting of the New Jersey Urban Mayors on municipal issues on November 12 at the Gateway Hilton in Newark. Smith said, “The session covered a variety of topics important to the people of Bayonne, including the economy, housing, public safety, education, and funding for transportation and infrastructure. At this time of difficulty in our national and regional economy, I wanted to get the latest information available to help our community. Bayonne and other New Jersey cities must become engines of economic growth.”
Mayors Cory Booker of Newark and Jerry Healy of Jersey City were the hosts and principal speakers at the event.
Smith and the other mayors discussed the expected impact of President-elect Obama’s policies on housing funding, community oriented policing, and local construction of roads and utilities. Looking ahead to the Obama Administration, Smith said, “I look forward to a new approach to the cities during the next four years. The Bush Administration attempted to slash the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, which provides Bayonne about $2 million each year. We need this and other federal programs to help maintain municipal services and Bayonne’s quality of life.”
With information provided by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the New Jersey mayors brainstormed about the potential local impact of a national economic stimulus plan. Smith said, “It is vital for the Congress to pass economic stimulus legislation that would put America and Bayonne back to work. Nearly 800,000 people have lost their jobs across America in the last nine months. People need help right now to get new employment.” Smith said that he would join other mayors in supporting federal block grant programs that would stimulate job-creation in Bayonne and vicinity. These block grant programs would cover community development; energy; transit equipment; highway infrastructure; airport technology; Amtrak; water and wastewater; school modernization; public housing modernization; and public safety. Smith said, “The City of Bayonne could use federal help in modernizing our educational facilities. Some of our school buildings are a century old. With the right kind of federal assistance, we could modernize schools without having to bond at the local level.” He continued, “It is important to have a list of local projects ready to go for federal funding that would be available once the Congress acts to pass a new economic stimulus package.”
In discussing education, Smith and the other mayors considered the importance of funding for special needs programs and the need to recruit new teachers, especially for Math and Science programs. During a briefing on healthcare, the mayors focused on the importance of hospitals and health centers, and reflected on the negative impact of hospital closures in New Jersey.
Smith concluded, “I would like to thank Mayor Healy and Mayor Booker for organizing and hosting this important event at such a critical time. I look forward to working with my fellow mayors and other elected officials to improve economic prospects for Bayonne and our New Jersey neighbors.”