Healy declares victory in Jersey City

May 12, 2009 9:54:56 PM PDT
Incumbent Jerramiah Healy declared victory in the five-way Jersey City mayoral election Tuesday night and said he was humbled and honored by winning a second full term. Healy received 53 percent of the 30,657 votes cast in the nonpartisan election. Former state assemblyman Louis Manzo was second with 26 percent.

Healy appeared to avoid the prospect of a runoff election with Manzo by winning more than half the ballots cast. Absentee ballots must be counted before the outcome is final.

"If you do right by your city you're going to do right politically at the polls," Healy said. "That's what we did for the first four years and that's what we're going to do for the next four years."

Manzo conceded the race and said he was distressed by the low turnout and voter apathy for the election.

Jersey City has 139,186 registered voters, making voter turnout about 22 percent. Turnout was 21 percent in the 2005 mayoral race.

The community of 242,000 is located across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan and may surpass Newark as the state's largest city after the 2010 Census.

Light voter turnout and the large field of challengers aided Healy, who has helped attract upscale development to Jersey City and sustained those efforts through the current recession. Healy also enjoys the support of neighboring mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Cory Booker of Newark.

"This is a testimony to the power of incumbency," said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University in northern New Jersey. "It's a function of an elections structure that favors name recognition."

Healy's re-election machine raised more than $3 million, according to state records. That compares with a combined $364,000 for his challengers. The job pays $117,728.

Healy's biggest opponent was his own embarrassing history, according to political experts. He was convicted of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest in 2007 for an incident in which he intervened in a dispute outside his sister's Jersey Shore bar.

Healy has been mayor since winning a special election to complete the remaining term of Glenn Cunningham, who died in 2004. He was elected to his first four-year term in May 2005.

In neighboring Hoboken, Councilman Peter Cammarano and Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer will face off in a June 9 runoff for mayor after neither got 50 percent of the vote in a race with four other challengers.


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