“What a year,” newly-elected Mayor Dawn Zimmer said to the crowd gathered at her inauguration this past Saturday. “What. A. Year.”
Hundreds gathered Nov. 21 to see Zimmer, the first woman elected mayor of Hoboken, sworn in a public ceremony. She is also said to be the first Jewish mayor of Hoboken as well.
“The last three years have been an incredible journey for me,” she said. “I went from speaking out at my first City Council meeting with my voice cracking and my hands shaking, to standing before you today.”
“Now, the work begins.” – Dawn Zimmer
“I know you’re ready for a new beginning. And I know you voted for a new beginning, no matter who you voted for in this past election,” Zimmer said. “It’s been an unforgettable year of campaigns, and while it is always a good thing when citizens are engaged in our civic process, a year of campaigns in which we are focused on what divides us can cause us to forget that we have so much that unites us.”
Time to celebrate
Political heavyweights U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Albio Sires attended the inaugural ceremony at the Hoboken High School auditorium, as did local officials like County Executive Tom DeGise, state Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, and Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano. Menendez, Ramos, and Romano are Hoboken residents.
Menendez flew in from Washington and spoke early in the ceremony in order to get back for a vote on President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill.
“Being mayor, second to being president of the United States, is the toughest job in America,” Menendez said. He had served as mayor of Union City before becoming a congressman.
“Everyone knows who the mayor is. They know how to get them and give them a piece of their mind,” he said in a gender neutral fashion.
Menendez congratulated Zimmer and called her administration a “clean slate” for Hoboken; in what appeared to be a swipe at Cammarano, he added, “And she will serve the full term of her office.”
Zimmer pointed out the common goals that arose from the election.
“Every candidate agreed that our taxes are too high and that our government needs to do more with less,” she noted. “Every candidate called for restoring faith in a government of honesty and accountability. Every candidate viewed Hoboken’s character and diversity as a treasure to be nurtured and maintained. Every candidate looked forward to a future in which cars, pedestrians, and bicycles could safely and easily travel our streets to access new parks and streets that are no longer flooded.
“Now, the work begins.
“Our greatest challenge is taking control of the runaway train that is our city’s finances.”
Another goal of Zimmer’s team is creating a better digital archive of city documents and opening it up to the public.
“My young administration has already begun organizing city records, and we are going to post them online so that anyone who wants to access information can have it with a few strokes of a keyboard” she said.
Overdevelopment was one of the main issues that Zimmer stood against in her relatively short political career.
“I am not saying I oppose all development in Hoboken, but I am saying I oppose irresponsible development,” she said. “[NJ Transit’s] proposed 70-story tower that would permanently alter our city’s character is not responsible development, adding 7,000 residents to just one neighborhood by constructing eight or nine 45-story buildings. Increasing our population by 15 percent is not responsible development.”
But her biggest stand will likely be opposition to a proposed state bill that could allow unfettered land development for NJ Transit statewide.
“There is legislation in Trenton that would take away our right to control the destiny of our city,” she said. “We will fight. We will fight. And together, we will win.”
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.