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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop speaks to Rutgers Democrats on 2025 gubernatorial campaign

On Wednesday, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (D-N.J.) fielded questions from members of the Rutgers Democrats at the Douglass Student Center. – Photo by Adam Ahmadi

On Wednesday at the Douglass Student Center, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (D-N.J.) spoke to the Rutgers Democrats about his candidacy for the 2025 gubernatorial race.

Fulop said his experiences in Jersey City's 2013 mayoral race informed his current campaign for governor. In 2013, he won against the former incumbent Mayor Jerramiah Healy (D-N.J.), who received an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, according to Fulop.

He said that his decision to announce his bid for governor in April 2023 was a strategic choice to gain leverage in the race.

"And so, why I started early is very deliberate because it gives me the flexibility to build properly, and if you're going to be impacting and changing the state, you need that time to be able to do that," he said.

When The Daily Targum asked Fulop about his potential policies as governor, Fulop discussed housing and transportation, citing his work in those areas as mayor.

One student asked Fulop about his stance on the recent influx of migrants to New York and New Jersey. Edison Mayor Sam Joshi (D-N.J.) received criticism, including from Fulop, after making comments about migrants arriving in the township.

Fulop said he believes in strong immigration laws but also supports helping recently arrived migrants. 

"At the end of the day, if somebody is in Jersey City, there is a responsibility from a humanity standpoint to me," he said. 

In response to planned hikes in New Jersey Transit fares and general public transportation issues, Fulop said he has implemented alternative solutions in Jersey City, such as the ferry and Via, a ridesharing platform.

The platform aims to increase the availability of public transportation not already fulfilled by the existing Port Authority Trans-Hudson, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and bus systems. He also said he is in favor of capping prices at public universities, including Rutgers.

Fulop was also asked about increased antisemitic incidents since the onset of the Israel-Hamas War, as well as Rutgers' recent addition to the U.S. Department of Education's list of ongoing Title VI investigations. Fulop, who is Jewish, said he does not believe he should go beyond ensuring safety for his constituents.

"I tell you this from a family of Holocaust survivors. Thirty-five of my family members were in Auschwitz: Seven survived," he said. "So, I have very, very specific views from my personal life around antisemitism … But I'm careful in a local job not to fight on that too much."

In the event of a second term for former President Donald Trump, Fulop said he is committed to the state's needs. He also said that a second term for the former president would likely not affect his work.

With regard to the U.S. Senate primary, Fulop said he backs the First Lady of New Jersey and senatorial candidate Tammy Murphy.

Regarding his potential predecessors, Fulop said some policies under the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) were beneficial following the tenure of former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), but Fulop said he wishes Murphy took on more ambitious initiatives.

When asked by the Targum about former Gov. Jim McGreevey's (D-N.J.) bid to succeed him as mayor of Jersey City, Fulop said he does not endorse him.

Fulop, who was elected to the Jersey City Council at age 28, said he is committed to amplifying youth in government.

"I am very sympathetic to young people getting involved (in politics) and trying to open doors for them," he said. "The one thing that I think I've done exceptionally well in the last 10 years as mayor is put a lot of young people in positions beyond where they're normally supposed to be."

Fulop ended his remarks by discussing his personal introduction to politics, encouraging students to pursue a similar path.

"You got to go push and get a little bit outside of your comfort zone on what you think might be safe, and, eventually, it might work out," he said. "It might not always work out for sure, but that's how you ultimately get to move forward in this business."

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