Council President Joyce Watterman
Founding and serving on many community organizations, Joyce Watterman has been volunteering as a chaplain for 30 years. Her and her husband are also the founders and pastors of the Continuous Flow Christian Center.
1. Why do you think Jersey City is so great?
Diversity. I was born and raised in Jersey City so I’ve seen the change. Now it’s more welcoming, people are excited about being here–everywhere I go. This is the place to be is what I keep hearing. So, diversity is a strong point in Jersey City everybody feels welcome and I think in the climate that we’re living in everyone should feel welcome especially where they live.
2. Looking back, what is your best memory here in Jersey City?
Not too long ago we did a mural at PS 15 and the artist, Brandan “BMike” Odums did a mural of children of different ethnicities. Because I grew up in Jersey City, I see that area changing and change is good. Those children are a sign of change. Which I think that impacted me more because children are always an avenue of change. I think if you look at the mural it brings hope.
3. As President, what are your goals for Jersey City?
I’ve been working on affordable housing primarily with Councilman Lavarro. That’s one of my goals because as Jersey City develops the market increases too. So, we want to make sure life-long residents can stay here. My goal is really to deal with affordable housing and rent control, which is important, you don’t want people to be forced out. Also, I deal with women, Women of Action, every March we honor different women who have helped contribute to the city. That’s always been something I’ve spearheaded and is a passion of mine. What we do now is hold quarterly Chat and Chew for Women and each councilperson selects two women to be honored and the submissions are due in January. Even when you look at our mayor, he respects women. As you notice we are starting to put women in higher positions which I believe should have always been, they’re more than qualified and get the job done far as I’m concerned. He’s a good partner in that avenue to make sure women are on the forefront. We work with other councilwomen to encourage women to come out and see how we can support each other.
4. What inspired you to reach the position of a Councilperson?
It kind of fell in my lap because I’m a pastor with my husband. So, the mayor at the time was a councilman and I would do different events for the community and he would see the different events I was doing, I guess it impressed him. So, when he ran, he asked me to run on his ticket so that’s how I really got involved with it but I’ve always been helping the community. It’s being at the right place at the right time. It’s being a voice for those who feel like there’s no voice, being fair because when you’re dealing with politics you need to find a place of balance. You don’t want to push anybody out and you want everyone at the table to have a voice, everyone won’t agree but it’s something that we must learn. He felt that I could do it which I’m very appreciative of.
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?
The benefits are more people, to be perfectly honest. When you are, especially people of color, minority whether its women, men any minority period, when you can read that you can live in a place regardless of your nationality, your culture you want to go there because you want to live in peace and harmony. So, when Jersey City was rated that it welcomed more people. To me that’s important because not every place you live is welcoming and I have to say that. I grew up in Jersey City and I’ve seen the change in Jersey City so to me that’s very important. I think it brought more people who felt at home.
6. What is your favorite place in Jersey City to eat?
I’m a vegetarian so the Cheesecake Factory, in the Newport Mall is one of my favorites. They always have a veggie burger, it’s easier and I have a variety. Now what’s taking place in Jersey City is that we’re getting more vegan restaurants. I have to figure out where I’ll go from there.