The Jersey City Council today withdraw a resolution discussing the appointment of a replacement to Councilman Michael Yun, who died on April 5 for an illness related to COVID-19 creates a vacant seat that will have a major impact on local politics in New Jersey’s second largest city.
Councilman Richard Boggiano said that Yun told him before he died that the late councilman wanted former Assemblyman Sean Conners to succeed him if anything ever happened to him.
“About six months ago, Michael and I were sitting in the caucus room having dinner. We talked about if one of us didn’t run or one of us left, or god forbid something happened, who do we want to replace us,” Boggiano said. “Michael Yun was very strong about it. He said he would like Sean Conners. I spoke to Michael Yun’s son and he said his father wished that too.”
Boggiano praised Conners as a “good community person” and said he should be considered.
“This was Michael Yun’s wish,” Boggiano said. “It was also, as I said, (something) his family agrees on.
Conners sent out an email asking for the appointment, Boggiano said.
Voters will fill the remainder of Yun’s term in a special election set for November 2020.
The remaining eight city council members will vote to fill Yun’s Ward D seat sometime before May 6. The appointed councilmember will serve until the certification of the special election winner.
Mayor Steve Fulop, whose allies have control of the council, are expected to expand their working majority.
The challenge for Fulop is to pick a candidate who can satisfy Yun’s constituency, which is not necessarily the same as Fulop’s. Yun’s closest friend and ally on the council, Richard Boggiano, is a Fulop opponent. The two frequently battled the mayor on budget issues.
Yun won re-election in 2017 by a 58%-30% margin against community organizer Moriah Kinberg, who ran on Fulop’s slate.
The Heights is an eclectic neighborhood of long-time white Jersey City residents – that’s where Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise lives – with Latinos and millennials moving into gentrified areas of the neighborhood.
The winner of the November special will serve until the council elected in 2021 is seated.
In addition to Conners, the other candidates are seeking support for Yun’s seat, the New Jersey Globe has learned: Cynthia Hadjiyannis, an attorney who represented the Village Neighborhood and is viewed as an open to development; Patrick Ambrossi, an analyst for the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development and a Hudson County Young Democrats executive board member; and Jocelyn Patrick, the president of the Riverview Neighborhood Association.
It’s entirely possible, if not likely, that a fifth candidate exists that will get enough votes to win the appointment when the council votes.
Telling at the afternoon conference meeting of the city council was that the administration pulled the resolution, since the appointment rests with the council only.
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 10:22 PM with names of additional candidates.