What is a County Freeholder?
As a Hudson County Freeholder, a legislator overseeing a budget of more than $600 million, Ron Bautista would fight to make sure our society works for people of all incomes, ages, and abilities. We need a County Freeholder with the political courage to address key issues: we live in one of the most expensive communities in the country, with a COVID-19 mental health crisis in our hands, at a high-risk area for flooding and heatwaves due to climate change, and a county government profiteering off of immigrant family separation.
Vote for Ron Bautista on Column A before July 7. Keep an eye out; due to the pandemic you will be receiving a vote by mail ballot!
A Hudson County for People of All Incomes
Fight for Racial Justice
I will work to end the physical, political, legal, and economic violence against Black and Brown people by:
• Demilitarizing Police Forces: Alarmed to see a purchase of riot gear and tear gas on the County Freeholders’ agenda after weeks of entirely peaceful protests across Hudson County, Ron Bautista believes we should institute a moratorium on new law enforcement purchases while we thoroughly reevaluate the way we do policing. The use of tear gas, for example, is banned in war and we must make sure weapons of war and military equipment are not used on civilians. Community policing is based on building trust and care for the community, and our county budget should reflect a culture where we treat people as human beings and not as the enemy.
• Reversing Massive Disparities: An ask at the Black Lives Matter protest in Hoboken was to address the issue that we live in one of the most expensive communities in the country, and that displaces Black and Brown people. That’s why Ron Bautista is fighting for a Hudson Community Land Trust, so people of all incomes can afford to live here. There are also major health and environmental disparities, some of which are caused by the failing air quality in our county. Part of the way to address these disparities come with our policy for 100% renewable energy by the year 2030 and an immediate moratorium on fossil fuel power plants.
• Preventing the Criminalization of Communities: Together we can end cycles of violence by providing social support to survivors of crime and investing in social services for our communities. This connects directly with policies that make sure we avoid unnecessary police interventions. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Black people are 3.73 times more likely than White people to be arrested for marijuana. A directive from the County to stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases can help address this immediately. Also, there are many cases where a police officer is not the right choice, for example homelessness should be addressed with housing first, as well as the intervention of social workers and mental health professionals.
• Establishing an Independent Civilian Complaint Review Board: We need transparency through community oversight of its police. Ron Bautista will work to establish a Civilian Complaint Review Board with investigatory and oversight power, as well as including seats at the table for representatives of social and racial justice organizations.
Fight for 100% Renewable Energy by 2030
When Ron first heard of NJ Transit’s plan for a fossil-fuel power plant, only 3 miles from Jersey City and Hoboken, he thought about his toddler. Ron had his first asthma attack when he was 4 years old, which means his daughter is at high risk, and just like so many of our neighbors who have heart or breathing issues, the power plant would have serious health effects in many of us. That’s why Ron Bautista is running for County Freeholder, so together we can fight to fund renewable energy, not fossil fuel power plants.
Tackle COVID-19 Mental Health Crisis - Mental Health for All
The COVID-19 pandemic is already causing psychological scars for many people. Ron Bautista proposes a “Mental Health for All” initiative, with Hudson County Community College leading the training and support of friends and family members in the community so they can deliver basic interventions for mental health problems. Using the SUNDAR approach, we can empower ordinary people to be aware of signs, provide mental health support and know how to connect with the assistance of a professional.
End County Profiteering from Immigrant Family Separation
Testimonial from Irene Astudillo: “I’m a first-generation immigrant and bilingual special needs teacher. Two years ago, my uncle Edisson Barros was taken by ICE agents and sent to the Hudson County Jail as an immigrant detainee. My uncle was facing deportation, it was a struggle to speak with him, and we would listen to him talk about the poor nutrition and non-existent medical assistance at the facility. Ron Bautista fought with us so that my uncle’s immigration case would be heard, and he helped fight for the human rights of all immigrant detainees at the County Jail. Together with other activists, they were able to get more visits, better nutrition programs, and better medical assistance for all detainees. I know first-hand that Ron Bautista understands the value of keeping families together and protecting the rights and well-being of all immigrants.”
Transparency: Participatory Budgeting to Fund Local Media
When Ron was undocumented as a kid, he remembers desperately waiting for US Citizenship and Immigration Services to simply look at his family’s case. The backlog was so ridiculously long it took 11 years for his mother and him to finally get their green cards. Ron considers himself one of the lucky ones: at least he had a path to citizenship. His family lived in such a state of fear, his father asked him to be mindful of where he spoke Spanish. That was 10 years ago, and Ron can’t even imagine the fear that today’s immigrants feel. It’s hard not to say “that could have been us” when two years ago we found out from the local press that our county government was profiteering from immigrant detainees by allowing ICE to use our county jail to continue separating immigrant families. It was the local press that reported the excuse your current Freeholder Anthony Romano made for his vote in favor of this immoral contract: “In the past, this money has been used to pay for infrastructure projects around the county.” This is only one example of why we need local media; why budgets should reflect our community’s morality; why we need people that will do the digging to find for us the stories of how people are affected by our local government.
There’s nothing more powerful than a story, and our local press has the creativity to tell our stories and how our county government impacts their daily lives. That’s why Ron Bautista is proposing the creation of a Hudson County Local Media Fund, dedicating $2 million of the existing Hudson County budget to fund local journalism through a participatory budgeting process. Participatory budgeting is a more transparent way to award public money. Local media companies would create their proposals/pilots together with residents, and the winners would be chosen through a public referendum. This way we make sure political bosses don’t have a say in what gets covered; so the people decide which local media deserves funds.