Assemblyman Charles Mainor and the end of black political power in Jersey City
Real Jersey City’s Michael Shurin offers his farewell to Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31), and his thoughts on the end of black political power in Jersey City.
I’m not the type to kick a man when he’s down, so unlike others who may have taken joy in his recent political misfortune, I hope Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31) is able to have a successful lame-duck session and wish him well as he moves forward with his life.
Even though this website is largely inspired by Mainor telling me that he “would not agree that fighting the drug war has… taken any lives or caused anything else,” I still have respect for him. However frustrating his comments that day were to me, he gave me straight answers to difficult questions – which is the most I can ask for out of any elected official.
Maybe Mainor will be back soon, maybe he’s gone from politics forever, either way it wasn’t good to see him forced out by the Hudson County Democratic Organization for multiple “liberal” reasons:
1. I’m certainly not state Sen. Ronald Rice, Sr. (D-28), and I’m sure this has gone on long before Mayor Fulop (so I don’t blame him), but LD-31 is essentially drawn to give the black community more political representation. What I’m not sure about is whether mostly white male political brokers deciding who gets the party’s support in LD-31, like what occurred last year for Hudson County Freeholder in District 3, is in line with the spirit of the dsitrict.
(NOTE: There is a Bayonne candidate for the purposes of political peace, but Jersey City could easily elect two candidates if organized properly.)
2. How involved are the Jersey City and Bayonne Democratic committee people in voting on the organization’s endorsement if candidates are so easily selected and replaced?
3. I don’t know how else to say it, and this is slightly cringe worthy, but the LD-31 race has seen multiple black women paraded as the HCDO candidate – raising three serious questions:
– Is it a good thing for the HCDO elitists to decide who is the “right” black female candidate?
– Why were black men excluded as candidates from the decision making process?
– Why couldn’t the Bayonne candidate be a white woman, and the Jersey City candidate be a black man?
I’m not suggesting that Angela McKnight isn’t a great candidate, far from it, what I’m saying is that there was no real democratic process involving leaders from Jersey City’s black community.
District 3 Freeholder Gerry Balmir, Jr. has certainly listened to me speak more than most elected officials, and I think he’s a decent guy, but he’s not from the black community of Jersey City and most didn’t know of him before he was endorsed.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t or cannot be a good freeholder, that’s a matter of opinion, but that there was no democratic process – Balmir was the choice of the establishment.
Looking back to that election, it must hurt Mainor to think of what could’ve been if he supported Jeff Dublin.
Dublin was faced with an unbelievably difficult ballot placement (4G to Balmir’s 4A, with no candidates occupying 4B, 4C, and 4D), in addition to going up against a party ticket with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker at the top, yet only fell a few hundred votes short of victory.
Maybe with Mainor’s support Dublin could’ve held on to the seat, but he decided to stick with the HCDO instead of his childhood friend. When speaking about the state of politics in Jersey City last June, Dublin told me:
“You know Mainor, he’s been my childhood friend… we used to hang out on Bergen Ave… I guess his position is he’s up next year, so he’s worrying about Mainor and not worrying about the affect this was gonna have on the whole community.”
Nearly a year later, after seeing the way Mainor was forced out and how a new candidate was selected by the HCDO, I think it’s safe to say Dublin was correct when talking about the impact Mainor’s decision would have on the community.
I suppose the final test of black political power in Jersey City will be if state Sen. Sandra Cunningham can dictate her own future, instead of the HCDO establishment, come 2017.