oN tHE iSSUES
Eleana will be a fierce advocate for affordable housing and renters’ rights in Jersey City and Hudson County. A renter herself, she will work to establish a right-to-counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. Not only does this protect the basic human right of housing, but it also deters landlords from attempting to wrongfully evict tenants from rent-controlled buildings to exorbitantly increase the rent, which is a contributing driver of gentrification in a community. This system can protect against the harmful effects of gentrification and help people stay in the communities they call home.
Eleana will also work to establish a Community Land Trust to invest in affordable housing and public spaces in the long term. She additionally supports a single affordable housing application for all of Hudson County to eliminate the unnecessary complexity of applying for affordable housing on a site-by-site basis, which can serve as a barrier to entry. Although zoning issues must be tackled at the municipal level, Eleana will use her platform to advocate for strong inclusionary zoning policies.
Eleana wants to work for our communities, not corporations. To remain free from conflicts of interest, she is not accepting any donations from developers.
Reports and firsthand accounts have detailed assaults, abysmal medical care, and deaths at the Hudson County Correctional Facility. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, reports have emerged that people were not even being given soap. This is appalling on its own, but even more unjust considering that New Jersey prisons have the worst racial disparity of any state, with a 12.2 to one Black/White disparity in imprisonment rates. Our county government must answer for these human rights violations. As freeholder, Eleana will investigate ways to improve conditions to reflect our values and basic human decency. She would support increasing inmates’ and detainees’ access to social workers and nurse practitioners, as well as contracting with an independent third-party entity to conduct unannounced audits of the conditions in the jail.
Our county jail currently contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people here in Hudson County. Eleana supports abolishing or significantly reducing, restructuring, and repurposing ICE at the federal level. At the local level, Eleana opposes the current contract with ICE. She does not believe that the ICE contract is a reliable or ethical source of funds for the county’s general budget, and would prefer to find money for the county’s budget elsewhere by rooting out corruption, patronage, and other forms of wasteful spending. She also endorses the efforts by 60 faith, community and advocacy organizations in New Jersey to ensure people who are detained have access to full legal representation, a move that would mirror programs already in place for New Yorkers who are detained.
On the law enforcement side, Eleana is committed to several policy changes when elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders. She will push to immediately implement Campaign Zero's 8 Can't Wait reforms at the Hudson County Sheriff's Office. While she recognizes that these reforms alone are inadequate, they are a first step that can be taken on Day 1. She will also push to provide more robust training for our officers, including unconscious bias training and deescalation training, and will work to establish a Civilian Complaint Review Board with full subpoena power.
Alarmed to see a purchase of riot gear on the Freeholders' agenda after weeks of entirely peaceful protests across Hudson County, Eleana believes we should institute a moratorium on new law enforcement purchases while we thoroughly reevaluate our funding priorities. Too often, our government has been quick to eliminate social services during budget cuts. This has caused law enforcement to cover areas that would be better addressed by social services, which often unnecessarily escalates a situation. Eleana believes we should hire more social workers, psychologists, and nurses, and stop criminalizing things like homelessness, mental illness, and addiction.
As an environmental engineer, Eleana is acutely aware of the risks posed by the climate crisis. By 2050, if we take no action, New Jersey is projected to suffer $1.3 to $3.1 billion in annual hurricane-related damages, on average, beyond our current level of risk. Nearly half of that is projected to be right here in Hudson County. We need to make smart investments now to protect against flooding and make our communities climate-resilient. We need to build both green and gray stormwater infrastructure to mitigate combined sewer overflows during increasingly frequent and increasingly intense storms.
We must also take steps locally to combat climate change. We can set a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. We can establish a Hudson County community choice aggregation program (similar to Piscataway, NJ) to allow residents and businesses to choose clean energy.
Eleana also supports a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure and supports the deployment of clean energy technologies. She opposes the proposed fracked-gas power plant in Kearny, which would pollute the air we breathe in Jersey City—especially in the Heights, directly downwind of the plant.
Eleana wants to make our streets safer and to make transportation work for people of all ages and abilities. It’s often straightforward to get into Manhattan, but very difficult to get around within Hudson County. The county roads are some of the most dangerous in the area.
Eleana will work to establish a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, with dedicated bus lanes and a streamlined boarding process, on county roads. BRT is among the most cost-effective and easily-implemented forms of mass transit, improves street safety, and is both logical and feasible to implement at the county level.
Eleana will also ensure we invest in protected bike lanes on county roads, building on the work Jersey City is already doing to create an interconnected network of safe streets. She will advance pedestrian safety improvements, including advocating for a pedestrian bridge near the Holland Tunnel. She will focus these efforts in places currently underserved by mass transit.
Transparency & Anti-Corruption
Eleana is a progressive and independent Democrat, not beholden to any political machine or special interest money. She will not accept any donations from real estate developers or corporate PACs. Further, she will seek to put an end to patronage and corruption in Hudson County government. These practices are neither fair nor a good deal for taxpayers. Eliminating wasteful spending practices in Hudson County based on personal favors and backroom deals would allow us to invest in critically-needed infrastructure and community improvements. Eleana will advocate for transparency on the Board of Chosen Freeholders and with County data and information. She also wants Freeholder meetings to be more accessible to the public, and to be highly accessible to constituents herself. When elected, she pledges to hold at least four town halls each year in the district.