2017 HOBOKEN MAYORAL CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE — Ronald Bautista
Can you please tell our readers your name (as it appears on the ballot), and how long you’ve lived in Hoboken?
Ronald Bautista, living in Hoboken for the past 18 years.
We recently saw a political campaign ad from 1981 that cites, “potholes,” “lack of recreation,” “sewers that cannot hold a simple rainfall,” “overworked police force,” and “enormous profits” for developers as being major issues facing Hoboken. Yet here we are—36 years later—having a lot of the same discussions. Why should voters have any faith in your campaign promises?
Above any candidacy, we’re all neighbors and we’re all in this together. I decided to run for Mayor because I believe we need more activists to run for office; people who are focused on transforming our community’s frustrations into real solutions. That’s why voters’ faith should be focused on the work we can do together as a community, and that the goal is to have a more people-friendly Hoboken. I’ve been an advisor on transit solutions for the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, where I proposed a Bus Rapid Transit system which is also part of my current campaign platform for Hoboken. Before that I was an advisor for institutions like the New York State Department of State on how to develop a better relationship between government and the people. There’s a saying that goes: “if you’re not at the table, you are most likely on the menu.” When I become Mayor, we’ll be at the decision-making table so that the focus is on the people of Hoboken and not the politicians.
Aside from the aforementioned issues, what else does the City of Hoboken need to address, and how will your administration do it?
As Mayor, I will work on making a stronger case for residents to choose Hoboken Public Schools. Back in 2004, I graduated from Hoboken High School with amazing people that are now entrepreneurs or work for great companies. These are great role models that we can connect current students with, while also showcasing the accomplishments of alumni. This improves student performance and the image of our schools.
Another initiative will be facilitating a partnership between Hudson County Community College and Hoboken High School so that students have the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. Earning this degree gives teenagers the chance to get a better job and salary than what a high school diploma can get them. I will also collaborate with the Superintendent of Schools to work towards having a dual-language school district, an essential skill for our students in the current competitive economy.
This campaign to date has certainly been spirited, some might even say divisive. Yet win or lose, many of the candidates will still be actively involved with the administration of Hoboken after November 7th. With that in mind, how would your Mayoral administration work to move ahead the projects and services that Hoboken residents need?
In order to move forward with projects and services we will be engaging the community by keeping an open dialogue and turning it into activism. As an advocate, in the past I’ve collaborated at some capacity with most of the other Mayoral candidates. I’ve maintained those relationships during the campaign and will strengthen them once I’m in office so that we can serve Hoboken residents together.
Everyone’s a critic. There’s no shortage of negative feedback on Hoboken’s various social media platforms—meanwhile voter turnout for municipal elections is routinely low. How would you encourage effective civic involvement in Hoboken?
The way to encourage people to get involved and vote in municipal elections is to run have a positive campaign. The end doesn’t justify the means, that’s why I’m leading by example by focusing my campaign on more traffic-free options, promoting entrepreneurship and an active life without the political drama.
What do you feel is the chief criticism of your candidacy, and how would you answer that criticism?
Some people said I should have played it safe and run for city council. Instead, I decided to run for Mayor so that I can stand up for the people by keeping real solutions front and center of the campaign.
Say you win… congratulations. In four years, why would the people of Hoboken re-elect you?
In four years, the people of Hoboken will reelect me because they will see the same person that they elect on November 7, 2017; someone that will take the time to listen and address each of their thoughts or concerns even if we don’t agree. In four years we will be the most innovative square mile in New Jersey.
What’s the very first thing you’ll do after being sworn in?
I will immediately work with our engineers to make every street so pedestrian-friendly that an 8-year-old will be able to bike and an 80-year-old will be able to walk safely.
Last but not least, why you?
Bootstrapping initiatives is the real challenge for any entrepreneur or public servant and I’ve done that for over a decade. That’s what I want to bring to the table: a transit system that doesn’t hit traffic (a network of express bus and shuttle lanes) proven to lower car dependency, promote entrepreneurship through public-private partnerships, and guaranteeing an active life by making our streets more friendly for everyone.