Thursday, October 15, 2015

Debate for Vacant Council Seat Held

This evening, a debate was hosted at Temple Beth El for the four candidates for a one unexpired term on the City Council.  The council seat was made available by Rose Greenman's resignation.  Candidate Jason Some was appointed to that seat in April of this year. The candidates had the opportunity to share their platform and discuss issues facing the City of Hackensack.

The candidates vying for the one council seat are:

  • Richard Cerbo, a life-long resident of the City of Hackensack and non-profit fundraiser.  
  • Debra Keeling-Geddis, a paraprofessional in the Hackensack Public Schools.  Debra Keeling-Geddis declined the invitation to the event electing not to attend and share her platform or position with voters.  
  • Jason Nunnermacker, a life-long resident of Hackensack, an attorney, and current President of the Board of Education. 
  • Jason Some, a life-long resident of the City of Hackensack, sales director of the local Some's Uniforms, and current appointed member of the City Council. 

Candidates were presented questions from the audience through the moderator, Larry Eisen.  
The topics discussed ranged from the candidates' qualifications, redevelopment, the controversial settlement agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center, and relations between the City Council and Board of Education. 

Candidates Qualifications to Manage a Budget in Excess of $100 million
Richard Cerbo admits that he has no qualification to review, analyze, or approve a budget in excess of $100,000,000.  He believes that it would be his place to entrust qualified professionals to advise the Council and explain the budgeting needs of the City to him.  Jason Some relies on his experience in small business and agreed that qualified professionals are needed. Jason Nunnermacker is the only candidate who has experience managing a comparable budget as a member of the Board of Education.  Nunnermacker prides himself on the Board's ability to consistently pass budgets that were zero-based and within the State-mandated caps, unlike the current council.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Candidates Qualifications to Negotiate with Collective Bargaining Units 
Richard Cerbo took the position that the City should take a firmer stance with the Collective Bargaining Units and negotiate harder.  Given the give backs and concessions on health insurance and modest 1.5% annual raises under the current police contract, and modest raises in the fire department contract, and the controversy around the police negotiations, this may be a difficult pill for many to swallow--and frankly an unrealistic position.  Jason Nunnermacker was the only candidate with experience in Collective Bargaining Agreements and negotiations having sat on the Board of Education.  Nunnermacker and the Board of Education negotiates with four separate Collective Bargaining Units and handles employment issues with each of those unions every day.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Redevelopment and Tax Abatements 
Richard Cerbo sees tax abatements for redevelopment projects as the biggest issue plaguing the City. Cerbo sees the value of tax abatements to attract developers to revitalize Main Street and surrounding areas, but believes that the lavish twenty and thirty year tax abatements being handed out are shifting the burden of future tax increases to home owners.  

Jason Some sees tax abatements as absolutely necessary to attract developers and says that every hammer banging on a project on Main Street is a dollar sign of tax revenues.  

Jason Nunnermacker is a supporter of the redevelopment efforts.  Nunnermacker believes that the redevelopment should be expanded to areas like Anderson Street which is anchored by the NJ Transit train station.  Nunnermacker, however, is the only candidate who understands and articulates the long term effect on the City, and schools, of the tax abatements being offered to developers today.  As the City continues to attract development we create residents, children, and a greater demand for city services and seats in our overcrowded schools.  Where Nunnermacker faults the current council is with their lack of consideration of the mid and long term needs of the City that are created by development projects when granting extended tax abatements.

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Medical Waste Disposal Facility on Prospect Avenue
A resident posed a question regarding the proposed plan of a senior care facility on Prospect Avenue to neutralize medical waste on site.  Cerbo was unaware of the plan while Nunnermacker opposed the plan.  Some was well aware of the plan and cited his communication with the Freeholder John Felice to support the opposition of the facility and protect residents' interests.

Scoop Declared Winner: Some

Relations with Youth, Homeless, and Disadvantaged
Richard Cerbo wants to increase the use of crisis and help hotlines to address drug abuse and help those in need.  Jason Some cites his families mentoring and tutoring program helping the homeless to find and maintain employment as his commitment to the disadvantaged.  Some encouraged soliciting corporate support of the recreation programs to fund additional youth activities to keep the youth off the street.  Some also encouraged more police presence in youth programs to create a culture of trust and support between the police and children of the community. Nunnermacker cited his charitable work and commitment to doing what he can for those in need while seeking to work with the County to enhance programs that are available.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Some 

Hackensack University Medical Center Settlement Agreement 
This year, the City Council entered into a controversial settlement agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center where the City surrendered long term revenues, the cost of ambulance services were passed on to residents, and several tax appeals were settled in favor of the hospital,  in exchange for a short term cash infusion into the City.  Emails made public reportedly show that the Council had not reviewed and understood critical parts of the agreement and when asked at a public meeting nobody on the council could identify the legal counsel who drafted or negotiated the multimillion dollar contract. Some declined to comment on the process but supports cash payments to the City.  Cerbo read about the agreement but did not know enough to comment on whether the deal was good for the City.  Nunnermacker has been a vocal opponent of the deal and believes that the City residents were sold short by a Council who was stampeded by the hospital. 

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Relations between City Council and Board of Education
Redevelopment projects undoubtedly put strain on our services and already over crowded schools.  The Board of Education has already entered into a $1,000,000 per year contract to rent the Padre Pio School due to overcrowding in the Hackensack Public Schools.  Tax abatements and redevelopment projects need input and consideration of not only the City but also the Board of Education.  Cerbo and Some both supported increased communication, while Nunnermacker demonstrated experience working with the City Council as a Board of Education member to bring about change and progress for the residents of the City.  Nunnermacker cited his work with Mayor John LaBrosse to bring recreational swim at the high school to residents, have city grounds used as playgrounds for special needs students, and bringing a youth police academy to Nellie K. Parker school.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker 

Hackensack Scoop Endorsement:
Jason Nunnermacker

VOTE: November 3, 2015


  1. Not sure what's more concerning, DKG's belief that declining a debate invite is an acceptable practice, or the fact that her handlers thought this would be a wise move.

    DKG is someone who has previously declined to comment when previously asked for specifics (quoting a 9/4 Record article) "She provided no details when asked for specific examples..." and later in the article "When asked to elaborate, Keeling-Geddis responded that she will discuss the issues in more detail later in the campaign."

    With three weeks to go before the election, how much later is she planning to wait?

  2. Jason Nunnermacker shows he knows what he is talking about relevant to most aspects concerning the governing of the city. Collectively, we have as citizens been witness to a circus sideshow since the new "reform" council took its position as our city leaders. There is a lot at stake now for the future of Hackensack. We can ill afford having yet another novice on the council. Assuming all are well intended is not enough. We need an individual who knows how to balance and oversee a large budget and can also keep a steady eye on responsible development and growth. Enough with playing around already. Vote for Jason Nunnermackeron Nov. 3. The other candidates can come to the meetings and offer their opinions, but they absolutely should step aside. We do not need any more people practicing on the council seat. We already have our fill.of neophytes. Hackensack is a city; not a little village. We need a leader. Jason is one such leader.

  3. After reviewing comments made by the more vocal; candidates for the vacant city council seat, can see where Mr. Nunnermacker can hold an advantage over the other candidates. However, Mr. Nunnermacker seems to have a bothersome issue with granting abatements to developers who are looking to possibly build in the city. Why? Because he thinks a flood of kids will capsize the school system. Mr. Nunnermacker obviously does not involve himself with development, and he obviously does not understand the economic needs of a developer when he or she probes a market or municipality. The first question asked is what can he or she get for rents. Mr. Nunnermacker apparently does not care what the market rate rents are in Hackensack. Instead he quotes there will be 500 kids coming into the city schools and the cost per kid is $16k. The cost per kid may be anywhere between $12k and $16k, but for scare tactics, he quotes these numbers, as if the sky is falling. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. However, in a declining city such as Hackensack, which has been declining for decades, to not embrace development and to not support developers able to invest, because obviously the business community in the city does not invest anything in their own properties, is what can be called anti development, Mr. Nunnermacker coins the phrase responsible development, but what is responsible about discouraging investment in a decades long declining market? The logical approach is to calculate pluses and minuses. Which outweighs the other? As the city grows, there will be a need to build a new school if needed or new schools if needed. Sending a message to the development community that the abatements now on the table are overly generous because they will hurt the taxpayers is wrong in this city resident's opinion. It creates an adversarial climate and turns off investors and developers alike. But mostly when looking at the math, and the benefits of attracting investment into the city vs. crying the song that we are giving away the city to developers is absolutely and factually incorrect. Whatever benefits Mr. Nunnermacker brings to the table on the city council are erased by his stance, in this citizen's opinion, by his position. If one looks at various studies on the addition of kids into the school system as a result of development, one will see factually and statistically that the 210 Main Street site will bring 7 kinds into the system and 150-170 Main Street 23 kids. Approximately. Source the Rutgers study on this issue. And you know what? The city needs to grow or it will die. And we must or should support this growth. That is what healthy communities do. So, given the plus vs. minus equation, it appears Mr. Some is the more appropriate and development friendly candidate for the vacant seat of the city council, in the opinion of this citizen. Thinking as I just described, or view points as I just described, do not belong in this city anymore. Vote Some Nov. 3. I will.