Councilman Richard Boggiano
Journal Square (Ward C)
Elected in 2013, Richard Boggiano has been a resident of Jersey City for over 40 years, served on the Jersey City Police Force for 37 years and is the longtime President of the Hilltop Neighborhood Association.
1. Why do you think Jersey City is so great?
It’s probably the number one city in the United States as far as history goes. People don’t know it, it’s actually been here before New York City. Except for maybe in Massachusetts, it’s probably the oldest city in the United States. They say 1660, and there’s a rumor that when Henry Hudson docked by the Holland Tunnel, he may have left people here. That’s 1609, so technically if we can document and prove it, which we can now, we’re probably the oldest city in the United States. It’s a great city. Years ago, the Waterfront was great. I don’t know if you know, from Hoboken down to the Bayonne line, there’s almost 400 bars. That’s what the old-timers tell me. What I used to do was, when I was a walking cop, I’d stop and I’d speak to people 89 years old. They’d tell me all these stories.
2. Looking back, what is your best memory here in Jersey City?
I worked for the police department and met a lot of great cops, a lot of great people. A lot of them were really dedicated, professional people. I met a lot of great people, old-timers, like the old sailor. This was back in 1973. At that time, he was 95-years-old or something. He joined the Navy at 14-years-old, was over in the combat zone, actually in the combat area. They found out he was 14, they shipped him back. He somehow got back. He told me stories about World War I and stuff like that. Just meeting people here. There were some great, great people here in Jersey City, older people.
3. As a Councilperson, what are your goals for Jersey City?
I want to see this city take care of the people that live here. I’m tired of what is going on, I’m tired of them destroying our neighborhoods. On my block just recently, four different neighbors are moving out because they can’t pay off all the taxes. They’re tired of what’s going on, they’re tired of the construction. Nobody seems to give a damn about the people that are here. Unfortunately, so many have moved out in the last few years or so. It’s a shame. They’ve already destroyed most of the neighborhoods. I’m fighting now to keep the Hilltop. I’m head of the Hilltop Neighborhood Association. We’ve been around, you can look me up, for the last 35 years. There are hundreds of letters. I’ve been fighting, but now it seems it’s a losing battle because they’re just taking over. It’s a shame.
4. What inspired you to reach the position of a Councilperson?
About 12, 13 years ago they present to us the 2060 redevelopment plan. I spoke to the councilwoman who was the Ward C councilperson and I told her, “Do not vote for it,” because they wanted to build a 46-story building. There’s a cutoff zone on Summit Avenue and across the street, you cannot build buildings. The neighborhood was going to be preserved. Robinhood came in, which was still five years later. We just had meetings with him. I’ve had him in court for over five years, almost six years. She said to me, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to pay us.” I came to the council meeting, which is that picture, and they voted for it. Fulop voted against it, he was on the council. Three or four others voted against it, but she voted for it. I got up and said, “I’m running.” I was so ticked off. That’s why I’m running.
5. What do you feel are the benefits of Jersey City being rated the number one most diverse city in the United States this year?
It’s true. It’s great. I’m involved with the Indians, the Coptic’s, the Muslims, and the African-Americans down there. We all get along great and it’s fantastic meeting all these different cultures, different people and everything, and through the West Point project, it’s been fantastic. You know, I’m a councilperson for Ward C, but I get calls from all over the city because I worked all over the city. I’ll give you an example. I was a walking cop. They put me in the south district. I was walking over there on MLK when it was totally 100% African-American, and I walked into a barber shop. There was about 10 people in there, and I was a white police officer walking into the barber shop. You could hear a pin drop on the floor. I said, “Guys, I’m here to talk to you. I’m going to be around here; I want to be your friends.” I became good friends with them. I respected them. They respected me, and we had a great relationship. I still go into all the stores and I talk to everybody. I get along with everybody. I shocked the hell out of a lot of people down MLK Drive too. This was 25 years ago. I think 1988 or somewhere around there, but we all became friends.
6. What is your favorite place in Jersey City to eat?
I really like Renato’s up on Central Ave I get the Veal Parmesan with macaroni. I like the Liberty House. When you order Italian, order from Nick, Prince of Pizza, that’s up on McGinley Square. I go to Renato’s or Gino’s basically. Gino’s is good. They have baked salmon. They’re the best.