Mayoral candidate runs for good of community
By David Bjorkgren
Special to the Hellenic News of America
Jersey City Mayoral Democratic candidate Bill Matsikoudis is not new to city government. He previously served as chief counsel under former Jersey City Mayor Jeramiah Healy, who served from 2004 to 2013. Matsikoudis left that post and started a law firm in Jersey City, tackling cases of public interest. He represented the City of Newark in a successful lawsuit that forced a Fortune 500 corporation to clean up a polluted site.
“I’ve done a lot of things in public service, worked for the Attorney General’s office, city attorney for Jersey City for over eight years. I’m enjoying the private sector for the last few years, running a law firm,” Matsikoudis said.
Matsikoudis is running on a platform of integrity, and claims his opponent initially ran for mayor as a reformer but “has proven himself to be the most transactional politician in New Jersey.” Matsikoudis says the city suffers from a city government “bloated with patronage”.
Key elements of his platform include a focus on community policing, cutting “out of control” city spending, and increasing affordable housing. “We have a lot of great things happening in Jersey. We also have a lot of problems,” he says. Among those are pockets of endemic unemployment, high crime and an increase in the cost of living.
“Jersey City is a city of 250,000 people that has a lot of economic development going on for 30 years, but has got these still ongoing problems—crime and the inner city. It’s getting less affordable now for many people who were born and raised there,” he said.
He’s a big proponent of community involvement and said he will actively engage with the public; learn what people think of city services and what problems they see. “People are going to be more likely to warmly receive a solution if you discuss it with them in advance verses just deciding it and defending it later,” he said.
“I have always felt this sense that I wanted to contribute to the greater good, that’s why I quit New Jersey’s most prominent law firm when I was 30 years old to go work in the governor’s office. I took a big pay cut to do that because I wanted to do something for the greater good.” He gets it from his father.
Matsikoudis’ father immigrated to America from Greece at age 20 after fighting with the Greek army in World War II against Mussolini’s invading forces in Albania, the first Allied victory of the war. He came to America in a ship, but was undocumented and deported. He lived in Cuba for a year before gaining entry to the United States. He mopped floors at a deli/liquor store owned by Matsikoudis’ uncle until him and his wife, an American, got enough money to buy a store in Jersey City. From there, they raised seven children, sending them to private schools.
“He lived the American Dream and he did it right in Jersey City so I have a commitment to the city just alone for that, but he raised me to have great pride and love of Hellenism and of Greece and for me,” Matsikoudis said.