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Politician with Hungarian Roots Elected Jersey City Mayor for Third Time

Júlia Tar 2022.01.04.

Steven Fülöp was elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city for the third time. In the November election, he received more than twice as many votes as his challenger, Magyar Hang reports.

The mayor’s parents were Hungarian Jews who emigrated from Transylvania; his mother’s sister was 20 months old when she was deported to Auschwitz, and her maternal great-grandparents were also deported. The grandfather survived the Nazi concentration camp and returned home to find his wife and daughter successfully hiding from the Germans. The family emigrated from Romania in 1967,” and Steven was born in Brooklyn in 1977, and as a child helped out in the family sandwich shop.

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He was not a good student in high school, and unlike his classmates, he was not a fan of American football, but excelled in “classical” football, known as soccer in the US. This earned him a scholarship to Binghamton University. He graduated with honors and got a job as a stock market analyst on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs.

He experienced first-hand the September 11 terrorist attacks, which led him to give up a career in the stock market and enlist in the US Marine Corps. Shortly after completing boot camp, on January 14, 2003, his reserve unit was activated and deployed to Iraq, where he served for six months as a member of the 6th Engineer Support Battalion. After the war, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal in the Reserves and returned to banking.

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He entered politics in May 2005, when he won in downtown Jersey City against an incumbent city councilman – the third youngest councilman in the city’s nearly 200-year history. In May 2013, he also defeated the incumbent mayor by sixteen percent, winning as an outsider to the local Democratic Party elite. After his first term, he was re-elected as a Democrat with 78% of the vote – the highest re-election success rate since 1949. His third victory was a resounding success, as his supporters won the majority on the city council. If he completes the third term, he will be the city’s longest-serving mayor since the early 20th century.

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In a recent article in local newspaper nj.com, the newly elected politician said that prior to his inauguration, the success of his next term ultimately depends on how the lives of residents are shaped by the pandemic and the recovery that follows. The city has seen another dramatic rise in COVID infections, with 650 new cases reported on December 29th, the highest number since the outbreak. However, thanks to high transmission, the number of deaths is still much lower than during the peaks in March 2020 and last winter. Violent crime is also on the rise in the city, with 16 murders in 2020 and 24 in 2021.

Magyar Hang reports that real estate prices in Jersey City are high. Therefore, the Office of Affordable Housing has been established, and Fülöp believes they should strive to make sure that “Jersey City remains a livable place for people that are here and at the same time maintains itself as a healthy, growing city. Those two things need to happen simultaneously.”

Featured image via Steven Fülöp’s Facebook page