BAYONNE, NJ - Although technically this is the first time Paul Hagdorn is running for public office, it’s not quite accurate to call him the new kid on the block.
A lifelong resident of Bayonne, Hagdorn said he’s considered running for office a number of times, but previously didn’t think the time was right.
“I took out petitions for run four or five times in the past, but I always changed my mind,” he said.
But this year a number of factors fell into place that made him decide to run in the special election on Nov. 5.
Although he has made his living as a real estate agent since 1995, Hagdorn actually started out following in the footsteps of his father.
“My dad was a union electrician,” Hagdorn said. “My mom was a crossing guard. I’ve lived my whole life in Bayonne. I raised two kids here. My daughter went to Drew University. My son went to Arizona. Now they are out of their own, I feel it is the right time for me to run for office.”
Hagdorn is one of four candidates seeking to fill the seat vacated by Tom Cotter, who resigned from the council last December.
He is seeking to replace Neil Carroll III who has served as temporary First Ward councilman since the city council appointed him in January. Hagdorn is not only running against Carroll, but two other challengers as well, John R. Cupo and Peter Franco.
While Carroll has the backing of Mayor Jimmy Davis, Hagdorn said he is not anti-Davis.
“I actually backed Jimmy Davis in the last election. I went to his fundraisers. I think I can work with the mayor if I’m elected,” he said.
But Hagdorn has a number of concerns as well as a wish list of things he would like to accomplish as a councilman.
Stabilizing taxes is high on his agenda.
“You have to stabilize taxes before you can lower them,” he said. “This means you have to cut spending.”
Taxes increased almost 24 percent over the last decade, he said.
While crime isn’t rampant, Hagdorn said it is a concern, and he would like to see a greater police presence in the First Ward, and maybe even a neighborhood watch.
“You know there is a problem when you see cars up on cinder blocks because the wheels have been stolen,” he said. “I know police can’t be on every corner. But I would like the residents of the First Ward to feel safe.”
He said the perception of increased crime may be pumped up by the fact that many more things get reported on social media these days.
“We seem to find out about things we wouldn’t have in the past,” he said.
But there are some things he has seen for himself, such as the uptick in homelessness and possible problems with people suffering from alcohol and drug abuse.
“We need a more permanent solution than just moving homeless people around or putting people in a shelter overnight,” Hagdorn said.
Hagdorn also said he supports second chance programs for people who are being released from jails.
Hagdorn has a fairly extensive wish list as well. He said he would like to see the waterfront walkway along Newark Bay extended from Stephen Gregg County Park down to Dennis Collins Park near the Bayonne Bridge. While there are sections of walkway, these are not connected.
He said he would also like to petition New Jersey Transit to extend the Hudson Bergen Light Rail from its current terminus at 8th Street and Avenue C to First Street.
This could accommodate possible future plans for a large parcel of land called the Texaco property which has lain vacant for decades. Plans by the owner of the property recently fell through, and Hagdorn said he would like to see high rises there similar to the 22-story buildings proposed near the light rail.
“This would free up a lot of land for public spaces such as parks,” he said.
As a real estate agent, he is aware of public concern about the ongoing reevaluation of property, but he said people should not be overly concerned.
“I tell people to relax,” Hagdorn said. “There will be positive impacts as well as negative ones, and we’ll have to see what comes as a result of the reval.”
While the city’s awarding of abatements to developers as incentives to build in Bayonne has become a significant issue, Hagdorn, unlike other candidate in this election, is not completely opposed to awarding them.
“Each project should be judged on its own merits,” he said. “If a project has a positive impact on the community then we should consider an abatement.”
Hagdorn has been campaigning pretty hard, getting out to meet people as much as he can, he told TAPinto Bayonne. He recently opened his campaign headquarters at 33 West First Street. His campaign signs have been appearing more regularly throughout the ward.
“I’m really happy I did this. I get to meet new people and hear their concerns,” he said.
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