By the time Bayonne residents read this column in their Bayonne Community News on Thursday, everyone will likely already know who the next governor will be, who the mayor of Hoboken will be, who will sit on the Town Council in Secaucus, and who will fill the unexpired council term of office in Bayonne.
The other people, who will read the column on the Sunday before the election, will have some hard choices to make, trying to weave through the rhetoric to decide who is best suited for any of the offices being disputed.
Motives vary – particularly in the governor’s race where fear and anger play a huge role in determining who voters will select.
With New Jersey voters facing the highest property taxes in the nation, some are looking for the immediate relief Republican Christopher Christie is promising, or possible relief brought to the election booth by independent candidate Chris Daggett.
Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign has focused partly on the lack of a concrete plan by Christie and the inexperience of Daggett.
Angry voters will likely vote for “anybody but Corzine,” taking to heart the harsh rhetoric the Christie campaign has issued in an attempt to blame Corzine for the state’s fiscal woes, and it will be next to impossible for Corzine to convince them otherwise.
Many voters throughout the state may also be fearful over losing whatever money they already have in a troubled economy, and will look to which candidate imposes the least risk. This category of voter seems to believe things are bad and likely to get worse, and these voters may also opt for change.
Many voters are ill-informed and will likely vote out of some predetermined belief, accepting the candidate who is saying something close to what they want to hear.
With the election so close, the election will likely depend on the few undecided voters who – operating out of logic, not fear or prejudice – will ask themselves which candidate can actually do the job of cutting taxes and turning around the state economy. Who has presented the best case to take over the reigns of the state during one of the toughest economic times in recent history?
Zimmer is still the one to beat
A week before the polling booths open and close, the Hoboken special election for mayor seems to have become a race for second place. It is like a game of king of the hill, where Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer stands at the summit trying to keep her lead, while contenders climb over each other, sabotaging each other’s chances in order to get the distinction of being next in line to lose to Zimmer.
This could change in the last week. But the race since September has always been one of waiting for Zimmer to make some fatal mistake that will topple her from the top and give some other candidate a chance to reach the summit in her place.
To date, she has made no such mistake. While Beth Mason’s political camp claims Mason is within striking distance of Zimmer, people in the Zimmer camp claim Mason has slipped to third place behind former Municipal Judge Kimberly Glatt. Some supporters of Frank Raia believe Raia may have leapfrogged over Mason into third place.
Vacancies may abound on the Jersey City council
Jersey City, of course, has a new councilman without an election. With Phil Kenny, elected in May, pleading guilty last month, the City Council voted to appoint David Donnelly to the seat. Donnelly knows his way around City Hall and government, having started as a young man in the early administration of Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.
Meanwhile, Jersey City voters await the court verdict on Councilwoman Nidia Lopez, whose New Jersey residency has been challenged. While her testimony in Superior Court seemed to hurt more than help her case, the court may choose not to remove her and create one more vacancy on the City Council. If she is removed, then voters would have at least two council seats to fill in a special election in November, 2010. This could be three seats if Councilman Marriano Vega is convicted of accepting a bribe. Vega is one of the 44 people charged in a federal sting operation last summer, and though he has stepped down as council president, he retains his council seat awaiting the outcome of a trial.
Has Steffens overstepped his role in Secaucus?
Secaucus Councilman Mike Gonnelli must be kicking himself for supporting former Councilman Richard Steffens for acting mayor to fill in the unexpired term of former Mayor Dennis Elwell.
Steffens has taken on the role of appointing people to all the vacant seats on the various boards, prior to Gonnelli taking over as mayor in January. This includes reappointing the politically connected Kathy Walrod as municipal judge.
Walrod is the wife and law partner of Charles D’Amico, who is the son of North Bergen heavyweight “Chips” D’Amico. Walrod is the daughter of the once powerful Hudson County official, Joan Walrod.
Some key Gonnelli advisors sharply disapprove of Walrod, and may regret putting Steffens in a position that allows him to determine the direction of the court and various boards for the first three years of Gonnelli’s new administration.