Photo by Karina Diaz.

Mark your calendars because Hudson County is holding its general elections for State Senate, State Assembly, County Executive and County Commissioner on Tue, Nov. 7. Voters usually turn their nose up at local elections, with only 12% of Hudson County voters who made it to the poll for the primaries, compared to much higher numbers at major elections. 

“I think younger voters are not as engaged as we would like to see with local elections,” Hudson County Elections Division Supervisor Brittany Bunney told Slice of Culture earlier this year. “We would always like to see more young voters and voters in general engaged in elections across the board.”

Jen Rivera, a Bayonne resident and Jersey City Public School clerk, says the reason why she rarely votes in local elections is because it “always seems like more of a popularity contest.”

However, State elections actually have a much larger impact on your day-to-day life than federal elections on subjects like education, housing, abortion or gun laws.

“Affordability, access, and expansion of social services, public school support, and generally support to working class people,” are a few of the issues that affect Amy Wilson and her community on the West side of Jersey City. 

For Rivera, her biggest concern is housing.

“The housing issue is probably the biggest issue for me. I live in a rent-controlled apartment but even with a $70k/year salary, I’m still living paycheck to paycheck. As a single mom of four, it’s a constant stressor,” explained Rivera. 

“Second to that is education. I work for JCPS, so I see how dysfunctional the public education system is first hand… I wish we had politicians who pushed for more innovative ways of educating our kids. The status quo really isn’t cutting it anymore,” said Rivera.

For Kathleen Callahan of Bayonne, she says affordable housing and gentrification are the issues that affect her community the hardest. 

As a “deep blue” county, Hudson County tends to skew heavily democratic and primary winners typically go on to easily win the general election. The most noteworthy contests took place during the primaries on June 6, 2023. Here are the results. 

What went down during the primaries?

The only contested district was the 31st district, where Michael Griffin went up against Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) in the bid to replace State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City). The rest of Hudson County was dominated by the Hudson County Democratic Organization and their preferred legislative candidates. Incumbent candidate Brian P. Stack (D-Union City) went uncontested in the 33rd district. 

County executive and all nine county commission seats were also up for grabs. This year, a full slate of 10 young up-and-coming progressive candidates – Progressive Democrats of Hudson County – was formed to take on incumbent establishment democrats but were ultimately defeated. Craig Guy, the former County Tom DeGise’s Chief of Staff, prevailed against progressive environmental engineer and community organizer, Elena Little. 

Wilson expressed feeling like the county does not get the representation the constituents deserve.

“It’s a shame that progressive candidates like Eleana Little weren’t able to coalesce more support around them… the rest of the candidates are part of a machine that has sat back while Hudson County has become unaffordable for working class residents.”

Vanessa Brown, a native of Jersey City recently relocated to the Midwest in search of a better lifestyle. “I was always working just to pay bills… I don’t qualify for any assistance programs, but I can’t afford to pay all my bills on time. It’s sad that Jersey natives are being pushed out to make room for the wealthy,” she says.

(Adrienne J. Romero / SoCul Images)

What issues are at stake and why should I care about local politics?

State senators and Assembly members, who make up the Legislature, write and pass laws that directly affect the everyday life of New Jerseyans, arguably more than those passed in Congress. Among some of the most high-profile laws, New Jerseyans have full access to reproductive healthcare and abortion, can legally consume Marijuana over the age of 21, and benefit from one of the highest minimum wages in the country ($14.13), despite what has been ruled at the federal level. 

This year, New Jersey passed a new gun restriction law, which overhauls and strictly limits how and where people carry their concealed weapon. It bars people from carrying a gun in a number of ‘sensitive places’ (schools, government buildings, hospitals, etc.), requires people to pay additional fees, take training courses to get their permit, and many other provisions meant to keep New Jerseyans safe after the Supreme Court made it easier to carry a gun

Another new controversial law (s481), which may affect you, will see up to 1.1 million drivers pay around $125 more for car insurance, as it increases the liability insurance minimum. 

This summer, A&C, a century-old private bus companies servicing more than 200,000 commuters announced their plans to discontinue their bus service. However, thanks to public pushback, NJ Transit announced an “emergency stabilization” plan to take over the threatened routes. It’s been effect since Oct. 28.

“What concerns me about my neighborhood on a daily basis is the lack of transportation options and green spaces. Many residents of Greenville are near the poverty line and do not own cars… The infrequency of bus service, especially on the weekends, is incredibly bothersome,” said Brett Miller, a resident of the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City. 

What’s a legislative election, anyway?

The Government of New Jersey, like all state governments, is modeled after the Federal Government. The Legislature is one of three branches of the government of the State of New Jersey, along with the judicial and executive branch. 

The main role of the Legislature is to write and pass laws. The Legislature is made up of two houses: a 40-member Senate and an 80-member General Assembly. Members of the Senate and General assembly are elected from the 40 legislative districts that make up the legislature of New Jersey. 

Voters from each district get to elect one State Senator and two Assembly members. Districts are regularly redrawn to represent roughly the same population based on the latest U.S. census population count to ensure equal representation. State senators serve four-year terms while Assembly members are elected to a two-year term. Legislative elections take place every other year in odd-numbered years. 

The next one is on Tuesday, Nov. 7. State Senate, State Assembly, and other local offices are up for.

Hudson County General Elections Illustration by Sakura Siegel / SoCul

Who’s on the ballot on Nov. 7?

These are the State Senate and State Assembly candidates you can expect to see on your ballot:

District State Senate Candidates DEM State Assembly Candidates DEM State Assembly Candidates LEADERSHIP EXP VALUES State Senate Candidates REP State Assembly Candidates REP
29 M. Teresa Ruiz Eliana Pintor Marin, Shanique Speight   Maritza Mathews Noble Milton, Orlando Mendez
31 Angela V. McKnight Barbara McCann Stamato, William Sampson Mary Jane Desmond, Noemi Velazquez Luis Soto Sydney J. Ferreira, Angelique M. Diaz
32 Raj Mukheri John Allen, Jessica Ramirez    Ilyas Mohammed Robert Ramos
33 Brian P. Stack Julio Marenco, Gabriel Rodriguez   Uncontested  

Below are the County Executive and County Commissioner candidates you can expect to see on your ballot:

Office Democratic Republican
District 1 Kenneth Kopacz (i) Leandro LaChica
District 2 William O’Dea (i)  
District 3 Jerry Walker (i)  
District 4 Yraida Aponte-Lipski (i)   
District 5 Anthony Romano (i) Joseph Branco
District 6 Fanny Cedeño (i)  
District 7 Caridad Rodriguez (i)  
District 8 Robert Baselice (i)  
District 9 Albert Cifelli (i) Jorge Dos Santos

(i) indicates an incumbent candidate.

How to vote

First, make sure to check that you’re registered to vote. This year, the deadline to register was Tuesday, Oct. 17. 

Voters can vote on Election Day (Nov. 7), when all polls will be open from 6 a.m.  to 8 p.m. You can easily find your polling place online.

If going in person is difficult, registering to vote via mail-ballot on this page is also an option!

You may even vote early by casting your ballot in-person at specific locations for nine days leading up to Election Day. 

Before heading to the polls, make sure you are prepared and aware of who’s on the ballot. It always helps to view a sample ballot, which lists the contests and candidates. 411Vote makes it easy to view and print your ballot ahead of time and to stay informed of any upcoming forums or debates in your county.

Also, don’t forget to look up your district. 

Hudson County encompasses legislative districts 29, 31, 32, and 33rd and County Commissioner districts 1 through 9. This is important as it will determine which candidates you cast your vote for. You can refer to legislative districts map and county commissioner districts maps to locate your districts.  

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