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Poll: What Is the Most Pressing Problem Facing the Garden State’s Cities?

Identifying the biggest trouble facing our cities can be an important first step toward establishing priorities

For many of New Jersey’s cities, there is no shortage of challenges: too few jobs, too much poverty, questionable public safety, public education under siege -- to name just a few.

NJ Spotlight will hold a conference tomorrow -- aptly titled “NJ Spotlight on Cities” -- at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center, where some of these topics will be explored. We’ll also look at opportunities and promises that have emerged from our urban centers.

As part of the run-up to the conference, we want to know what readers think is the single most-pressing issue facing our urban centers. This week’s question:

Of all the issues facing our cities, which do you think is the most critical?

  • Public education remains in disarray, if not dysfunctional, with the quality of instruction still falling well short of that in suburban communities. Meanwhile, students and teachers feel resigned to a second-class system.

  • Jobs are too few, economic development too limited. For all the promises showing in some sectors of our cities, not all neighborhoods are benefiting and unemployment remains way too high.

  • Public safety remains the deepest concern; too many residents remain fearful for their fundamental wellbeing. But this problem cuts both ways: distrust of law enforcement prevents a unified response to fighting crime.

  • Property foreclosures and vacancies continue to dog many of our urban communities, with empty lots and abandoned homes often creating blight.. Arcane laws, uninterested corporate mortgage-holders, and lack of government intervention can cause a few empty buildings to drag down entire neighborhoods.

  • Public health is the most fundamental issue of them all. Access to proper care is too limited and there remains a broad variety of environmental hazards, from air pollution to lead paint.

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