Affordable housing, food insecurity, career education and artistic diversity are among the top focuses for Craig Guy 100 days into his first term as Hudson County Executive.

Some are more pressing than others as part of the county’s “new exciting direction.” Those listening and applauding perhaps could hear that in the Democrat’s voice Tuesday afternoon during his inaugural state of the county address in the Commissioners’ Chambers.

During his 15 minutes on the floor, Guy listed the various “partnerships” he said are helping generate progress, while rallying those playing a role in bringing government closer to the people at the start of his four-term term.

But Guy shared how one in 12 families in the county are food insecure, according to Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “This is unacceptable and I’ve taken three major actions to investigate and address this issue,” he declared.

Guy’s been in office for four months and replaced Tom DeGise who served for more than two decades in the role. He became his predessessor’s chief of staff after a career in law enforcement, rising to the rank of a lieutenant in the Jersey City Police Department. More recently, he’s taken the reigns as the county Democratic Party chairman.

Guy has asked the county Department of Health and Human Services to organize the first-ever food insecurity summit on May 22 in part to bring together experts and stakeholders to examine “the root causes” of hunger.

He is working to develop more food pantries and pharmacies for those in need while also looking to nonprofits to better take advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

But he leaned on an old adage in connecting that priority and another one, job creation.“The best social program is a career,” Guy said.

Re-building roads, he said, will create union construction jobs, as will various programs, including Hudson County Community College’s training and certification for green infrastructure jobs.

What he seemingly was most excited and proud of was Hudson County School of Technology’s rollout of the Outdoor Classroom Food Bus, a culinary student-operated mobile kitchen. They also sell their offerings while serving another good cause.

“All profits from the food bus go right into a student scholarship fund,” he said, among a flurry of statements attracting the most buzz and applause.

Connecting to constituents

Guy says he wants the county to be even “more of a partner” and better in tune with local concerns. He will be traveling to each municipality as part of his first listening tour over the next several months. The first stop is Jersey City on May 23. 

He also wants to expand awareness and accessibility of county services after having already launched a series of community resource fairs in part to help people “get their lives back on track.”

In addition to food insecurity, he’s looking to tackle another “huge issue in Hudson County.” That’s homelessness. He wants to respond by building more affordable and more permanent housing.

He touted a “ground breaking transitional housing partnership” with Jersey City — among many with Mayor Steve Fulop — but said “we must do more.”

Guy asked the county Department of Family Services and Reintegration to create a universal online and in person application for housing assistance. The executive is also looking to build more affordable hosuing units on county property.

“I’ve asked our key leadership team to begin these efforts,” he said.

Quality of life

“Artistic and cultural diversity” breathe life into quality of life from threater and dance to films and musicals. He brought up many programs, including the county’s Arts in Education Grant Program giving art educators and organizations the opportunity to partner with county schools in teaching that that curriculum.

That political buzz word also relies on other motivations: “Making Hudson County greener has been a priority for our administration from day one,” he said.

He pointed to the green courtyard in the works at the “ugly grey” courthouse to be razed on Newark Avenue. The county executive also hit on making the roads safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Andy Milone has been a freelance reporter covering local government for various New Jersey and New York news outlets since May 2024. You can reach him at 201-406-7222 (call/text) or [email protected]. The...