Councilperson James Solomon represents downtown Jersey City. He is in his first term, elected in the fall of 2017. James is fighting to reform development practices and to promote transparent and ethical government in Jersey City. James earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and his BA from Pomona College. He is currently an adjunct professor at three Jersey City universities: St. Peters University, New Jersey City University & Hudson County Community College. James and his wife Gaby welcomed their beautiful daughter Camila Nicole Solomon to the world in November 2017.
1.) What was your most valuable student experience while at Pomona (sports, internships, extracurriculars, on-campus job, etc.)?
Founding and building the Pomona Student Union into one of the largest student organizations on campus. Diving head-first into creating an organization built practical knowledge I couldn't learn in a course. Pomona offered a really supportive, nurturing infrastructure for such a student-led initiative.
2.) What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What is most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of politics is dealing with entrenched power. Money and benefits often flow to special interests. Change in the public's interest often requires painstaking organizing work to build power to challenge those special interests. The most rewarding aspect of the work is solving problems, both big and small, for my constituents.
3.) What do you wish you’d known when first starting out in your career?
I wish I had a clearer understanding of power; who holds it and how they wield it. A short hand definition of power is organized money and organized people. That definition often helps me understand politics
4.) What is the most difficult interview question you’ve been asked?
An election is basically a constant job interview with thousands of people. Being able to answer the question of why I was running for office with authenticity, meaning, and brevity was key to winning.
5.) Was your first job after graduating from Pomona related to your current profession?
Sort of. I joined Teach for America. I only taught for a year but it led me on a path toward a career in urban politics and policy.
6.) How do you stay up to date on trends within your industry? (books, professional associations, journals, conferences)
I follow CityLab and Next City for urban policy information. Twitter is a great way to stay engaged in day-to-day reporting and political machinations. I try to read a couple of books each year on more complex urban policy topics.