A celebration for the three winners of the Hoboken Board of Education election on Tuesday turned sour for some supporters of warring mayoral candides Beth Mason and Dawn Zimmer.
Jake Stuiver and Ines Garcia Keim, both staffers for Mason’s campaign, said Wednesday that they were asked to leave the celebration at Maxwell’s by two Zimmer allies who accused them of not being supportive of the victorious “Kids First” school board slate.
According to Stuiver and Keim, two close allies of Zimmer – Michael Lenz and City Council candidate Ravi Bhalla – verbally admonished them for showing up at the campaign celebration without, according to them, doing any of the work to get the school slate elected. Stuiver also said that Lenz announced to the crowd that Stuiver was Mason's campaign manager.
On Wednesday, Lenz admitted to the admonition. “I thought people should know where he was coming from,” Lenz said.
Mason had written a letter to supporters on Monday declining to support either of the two slates in the election.
Lenz also admitted to admonishing Stuiver for material Lenz blamed on the Mason campaign that he said was “damaging” to Kids First. Lenz also claimed Stuiver was circulating disparaging remarks under an internet pseudonym.
Stuiver denies both claims and said that he was supportive of the slate, although he wasn’t a volunteer or a contributor.
Keim said on Wednesday that she was a contributor to the Kids First slate and had in years past hosted fundraisers.
There has been some bad blood between Lenz and Stuiver since they had a falling out during the 2005 mayoral campaign of Carol Marsh, who is now a council candidate on Zimmer’s slate. In fact, last year, Stuiver wrote this letter to the Hoboken Reporter criticizing some of Lenz’s tactics.
Stuiver said many people at the Tuesday night celebration were warm and receptive, including some of the winning candidates and Zimmer ally Peter Cunningham, until Lenz and Bhalla “hijacked the moment.”
Lenz said that other Mason supporters at the celebration like close Mason ally Lane Bajardi “had every right to be there” because they volunteered time to the campaign.
Bhalla was not immediately available for comment.
Mason and Zimmer are both considered to be reform candidates in Hoboken, but the supporters of both sides have been at war with each other since last year over various perceived slights to each other. A few stalwarts of each side appear to have been exchanging nasty barbs against Mason, Zimmer, and each other on internet message boards.
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There will likely be updates to this story later on this week, so check back.