Ward F race heats up as Gilmore says opponent Robinson

Ward F race heats up as Gilmore says opponent Robinson is behind ‘mug-shot’ fliers. Jersey City Ward F city council candidate Frank “Educational” Gilmore has come out swinging after campaign fliers with a fake mugshot and details on his criminal record blanketed parked car across the ward Monday night.

Gilmore told The Jersey Journal Wednesday the fliers were distributed by people associated with incumbent Councilman Jermaine Robinson’s campaign, saying he has received calls and videos from eyewitnesses that prove his claim.

“I understand it’s political season, but I think this may be a new low for politics here in Jersey City,” Gilmore said prior to a press conference to discuss the controversy. “I’m not going to let this derail or deter the path of victory that we’re on. And Michelle Obama said it best: ‘When they go low, you go high.’ ”

Robinson did not return a request for comment, but Team Fulop spokesman Phil Swibinski said no one from the Fulop slate, including Robinson, has anything to do with the fliers.

Gilmore declined to name the witnesses for fear of putting their jobs in danger. He also noted that distributing fliers without including a “paid-for-by” line is a violation of campaign law.

“I would really urge all sitting elected officials to really denounce this Willy Horton-type of political tactic of tarnishing Black and brown communities,” Gilmore said, although he did not personally call for an investigation.

Gilmore held a press conference Wednesday in front of his Educational Gilmore Community Learning Center to denounce the fliers and remind people that he has never hid his criminal past.

“If anyone owns their story more than me, I would like to meet that individual,” Gilmore said. “I take full responsibility for whatever situation that I may have been a part of. But what you can’t do, and what you’re not going to do, is resentence someone for something that happened 20 years ago.”

Others, though, have taken up the cry for authorities to find who is responsible for the fliers and whether a crime was committed.

Mussab Ali, president of the Jersey City Board of Education, called for the state Attorney General’s Office to open an investigation, and Jersey City police to review of surveillance footage.

“There’s no one who should support this kind of literature out there,” Ali said, emphasizing the danger to democracy that unattributed and unverified information like the flier can present.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon denounced the campaign tactic, saying it was “reflective of what disgusts people about Jersey City politics,” and also called for an investigation.

“It’s incumbent on upon everybody to send a message that these political tactics don’t work,” he said.

At-large Councilman Rolando Lavarro Jr. joined in the chorus, denouncing the attack and demanding state authorities investigate. “This is the type of politics tactic that breeds distrust in the general public and brings politics down to the lowest level,” Lavarro said.

He added that voters could hold the people behind the flier to account on Nov. 2 by voting for new leadership for Jersey City.

Solomon and Lavarro are the lone two anti-administration members of the city council and are running for reelection against Team Fulop challengers in the Nov. 2 election. Vernon Richardson is the third candidate in the Ward F race.

Council President Joyce Watterman and Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley, running on Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s ticket, did not return requests for comment.

“Team Fulop follows all state election laws and we would never release a piece of media without it having a proper paid-for line and without the expenditure being disclosed on campaign filings,” Swibinski said, although he declined to denounce the tactic.

“I don’t know anything about that flier,” Robinson said in a statement made before Gilmore accused him of being responsible for the fliers. “But the real question has to be, is there truth to it?”

Gilmore called the flier a “whole bunch of foolery,” although he willingly admits he served 10 years in prison for 12 or 13 convictions of drug possession. He uses his experiences in his community center work with at-risk kids, and even appeared on the “Ellen” show to discuss it.

He questioned the veracity of all the criminal claims on the flier and noted that he was never convicted of a violent crime.

Sketchy, anonymous fliers are not new to election races, especially in Hudson County.

Gilmore drew comparisons between this incident and one in which a 2015 flier accused At-large Councilman Daniel Rivera of not supporting the Black youth of Jersey City.

Ali, the ed board president, compared this incident to one during the Hoboken mayor’s race in 2017, when fliers associated Mayor Ravi Bhalla, then a city council candidate, with terrorism.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who in January declared Joe Biden was the “duly-elected 46th president of the United States” now won’t acknowledge that the president legitimately won last November’s election.

Asked that very question by CNN, Van Drew said in an article published Wednesday: “I am not going to make that determination. But what I do think is that we need to make sure that our election system works right.”

Van Drew, feted by then-President Donald Trump at a January 2020 rally in Wildwood, did not respond to a request for comment from NJ Advance Media.

It’s apparently the first time he publicly questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s win, though he did join most of his fellow House Republicans earlier and tried to overturn the presidential election following Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

They first asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out millions of Biden votes and then voted to reject the electoral votes in two battleground states after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.

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