3 in running for Bayonne mayor, with Davis and Nadrowski slates continue to spar

Water rates, overdevelopment, domestic violence.

With two months until Bayonne’s non-partisan municipal election, mayoral candidates Jimmy Davis and Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski are continuing to vie for voter attention, bringing a series of issues into the forefront of the election.

The candidate field, meanwhile, has been confirmed with three candidates in the running for mayor, five for the two city council-at-large seats, and two to three candidate each for the individual ward council seats.

The third contender in the mayoral race, Dr. Mitchell Brown, has yet to get entangled in his opponents’ crossfire. Former Board of Education Trustee Michael Alonso filed to run for mayor, but did not meet the requirements to get on the ballot.

City Council President Ashe-Nadrowski’s campaign has been publicly active for three months, taking aim at incumbent Davis from its start.

In just the past week Ashe-Nadrowski has disseminated press releases about overdevelopment, water rates and domestic violence, eager to take the offensive against Davis when presenting issues to the local media.

A mailer and campaign video, meanwhile, first introduced voters to her life story, from her childhood in Bayonne public housing to her career in computer programming, then highlight broad key issues on her platform such as housing affordability and public safety.

Davis’ campaign has recently taken a different route. Other than coming to campaign and with one primary point in February — that he was pausing all new development approvals — he has mostly campaigned by shaping a narrative about what he considers his successes and continuing to demonstrate his presence in the community via photos on social media.

While at times playing defense, he rarely aims attacks at or even acknowledges his opponents.

Ashe-Nadrowski’s challenge is to convince and vote that Bayonne needs change that she can be the one to deliver it — in spite of the fact that she has been a key cog in Davis’ team the past eight years.

Development has remained a hot topic in the run-up to the May 10 elections.

When Davis called for a pause on development it was an about-face on his administration’s pro-development theme. To Ashe-Nadrowski, the decision is “too little, too late” and something she promised to keep tabs on.

Since then, she has accused him and members of his slate of already abandoning his promise, she held a community meeting on development and has said she is against specific projects in the pipeline coming to the city’s planning board.

When asked, Davis responded by saying he, too, is against the projects Ashe-Nadrowski has referenced. And since his announcement about pausing development, planning board meeting cancellations have stalled many votes in which Ashe-Nadrowski or Davis — both planning commissioners — could act on their promises.

Members of Davis’ City Council slate did, however, vote in favor of the redevelopment plan for the former Marist High School property after Davis’ call for the development pause.

Now, Ashe-Nadrowski’s campaign has brought Bayonne’s controversial 40-year Suez water contract into the mix, alleging that Davis was behind a campaign-style mailer the company sent out to curry goodwill from residents who have grown evermore frustrated with water rate increases.

In 2012, under Mayor Mark Smith, the cash-strapped city saddled with crumbling water and sewer infrastructure entered into a deal with then-United Water and a private equity firm to take over its water operations for 40 years. The city received $150 million up front and Suez agreed to contribute $2.5 million for capital projects and a combined $1 million for repairs and operations annually.

Davis says he had nothing to do with the literature.

“I was completely unaware of this mailer until it arrived in my mailbox and my campaign had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I’ve never received any political support from Suez before, and will never accept it in the future.”

A Suez spokesperson said “no political figures were involved with this marketing communication.”

Both Ashe-Nadrowski and Davis touted anti-domestic violence initiatives just several days apart. Coincidence?

Davis highlighted the issue in his State of the City address last month and he said he was engaging with elected officials, police and healthcare workers on the issue.

Ashe-Nadrowski’s, announced Wednesday, that she had prepared a resolution to dedicate $25,000 in American Rescue Plan funding for educational programs to combat domestic violence.

Then, on Saturday, the city said Davis formed a Domestic Violence/Mental Health Task Force with local organizations and several state legislators, a month after a Bayonne woman was killed in an alleged domestic violence incident.

The only other candidate who filed to run but who did not qualify is John R. Cupo in the First Ward.

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