'Let's Make Jersey City a National Model for Government Innovation and Progressive Values'

Rebecca Symes has a detailed, actionable plan to put her experience as an attorney, non-profit volunteer and political activist to work creating a more progressive local government that puts residents first.

Housing We Can Afford

“Jersey City is a dynamic, vibrant place to live because of the people who live here. Let’s keep it that way.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

People of all income levels, especially our seniors, young families, and long-term residents, fear being displaced by the rising rents and property taxes downtown. Those who have called Downtown home for decades played a large part in making Downtown Jersey City what it is today. Our newer neighbors have also added to the rich fabric of our community.

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Participatory Budgeting

“Residents deserve to be asked their budget and city priorities every year, not just during campaign seasons.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

Participation is the essence of a democracy and people shouldn’t just get the opportunity to give feedback during election years. In Jersey City, we need to join with dozens of other progressive cities and institute a participatory budgeting process. This is where residents directly decide a small portion of the city’s annual budget based on a facilitated community-voting process. Often, these direct involvements start or seed important projects on issues that matter most. As residents continue to face higher taxes under re-evaluation, we should make sure all people have the chance to take ownership of how some of their tax dollars are spent.

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Publicly Funded Elections

“Residents need to have confidence that elected officials will follow their conscience and act in ways that will benefit the community, not special interests.” — Rebecca

Why it’s important:

Residents need confidence that their elected officials will follow their conscience and act in ways that benefit the community, not special interests. Jersey City has already enacted the toughest municipal pay-to-play laws in the State of New Jersey.  Developers and those who represent them are barred from donating to local campaigns. However, self-funders and those who can secure large contributions still have an often insurmountable advantage over candidates who rely on grassroots fundraising and small-dollar contributions. Many well-qualified potential candidates simply cannot raise the money necessary to compete.

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Working with Small Businesses

“Our small businesses give our neighborhoods charm and character, while contributing to the well-being of our local economy, let’s make sure they thrive.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important: The diversity of our commercial sector gives our neighborhoods a sense of identity and character. Small businesses often hire locally, donate goods and money to community groups, and participate in civic life, in some cases through the Special Improvement Districts. Much like Downtown residents, small business owners have concerns about raising rents and other costs that threaten to displace them. Changes to local laws governing our small businesses can ease some of the pressure.

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Bringing Jobs to Jersey City

“Let’s make Jersey City a place where people live and work!” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

With tens of thousands of new residential units coming to the market in 2018, the majority of which are rental properties, Downtown Jersey City risks becoming a bedroom community despite the many naturally occurring favorable attributes that make Jersey City an ideal location for business.  Ensuring there are good jobs in Jersey City will also provide some relief to our public transportation which many residents use to commute to the City.

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Community Driven Development

When regular people have a say in how their neighborhoods are developed, we get more of the things we care about – new schools, more green space, affordable housing, and support for the arts community.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important: 

Ward E is made up of many voices – residents, local businesses, property owners, artists, school officials, religious and community organizations  – these voices make our community rich and special.  All should play a role in shaping Jersey City’s future, allowing for different points of view to be heard and to promote civic engagement.

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Resiliency, Sustainability, and Emergency Response

“Climate change is real, sea levels are rising and storms are intensifying. We know Downtown will be hard hit by climate change. Resilience and risk-reduction must become part of Jersey City’s culture and at the forefront of our policies. I know that Jersey City can become one of the most resilient cities in America.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

After the devastation that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, & Maria caused throughout the United States and Caribbean this year alone, Jersey City residents are reminded of their experience of Hurricane Sandy just five years ago. Jersey City suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in short- and long-term economic loss and disruption, and Downtown was hit hard by extreme flooding, storm surge, winds and heavy rain. Five years later, we remain vulnerable and with our expansive growth, potentially more susceptible to damage than ever before.

Water is the greatest threat to Jersey City, one of few cities with two coastlines from two non-contiguous bodies of water. In particular, Downtown has a 5.6 mile-long Hudson coastline with several key residential areas and business districts located within a few feet of sea level and high tide marks. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, by mid-century, these areas will experience very frequent, and thereby costly, sea level rise-based flooding. Considering the rapid development and our critical public transport assets, Jersey City now more than ever requires leadership that understands the short- and long-term risks to our residents, especially children, the elderly and infirm, but also property values, small businesses and corporations, schools and hospitals.

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Planning for our Future

“A well-planned city is a place families can stay for generations” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

Jersey City is growing. That growth comes with it’s own set of challenges. It’s brought new neighbors and businesses, but it has also put pressure on our parks, city infrastructure, schools, and transportation networks.

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Supporting Our Public Schools

“Good public schools benefit everyone. Let’s align our policies to better reflect our commitment to Jersey City’s schools.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

Strong public schools are key to allowing Jersey City’s youth to reach their full potential, fighting the flight of young families to other communities, and alleviating the consequences of unemployment, crime, and generational poverty.

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Support for the Arts

“Jersey City must establish a new tradition of supporting the arts, because our artists are valued members of our community.” — Rebecca

Why It’s Important:

The Jersey City arts community is an important economic driver in the city, and artists of all kinds have played a vital role in making our city a vibrant and exciting place to live.

Unfortunately, Jersey City does not have a tradition of government or corporate support for the arts. Longtime arts advocates as well as new organizations like the Jersey City Arts Council have led the demand for better zoning and tax breaks to support the arts.

It is now the time for the city to unequivocally support the arts.

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Statement on the RevalRead More

Statement on Tax AbatementsRead More

Statement on Parking – Read More

Statement on Safe StreetsRead More

Statement on Public TransportationRead More