Five of the six incumbent council members up for re-election have said they will run again, while at least 19 other possible candidates are waiting in the wings, according to the amount of signature petitions that have been requested from City Hall by this past Wednesday.
Signature petitions are the first step into beginning a campaign towards becoming a council member. Candidates must get a certain number of signatures from registered voters in order to run, and drop off the form at the city clerk's office by March 15.
Of the 19 candidates, only three have officially announced that they are running for City Council, with the remaining challengers saying that they are giving it "serious consideration."
Sometimes, candidates will take out petitions and then decide against running in exchange for a city job or less lucrative compromise.
Much like the community they might one day represent, the 19 candidates are comprised of a diverse cross section of Hoboken residents that includes a former Hoboken fire chief, a commissioner at the Hoboken Housing Authority, an artist, several former Board of Education members, and a slew of candidates who consider themselves community activists.
Added to the mix is the vacancy of the 2nd Ward seat, which is currently occupied by the esteemed veteran Councilman Richard Del Boccio, a former elementary school principal. Del Boccio announced late last year that he would not be seeking another term in office after spending his last 17 of 19 years on the council.
How it works
Hoboken's council has nine seats, six of which represent individual wards, and the other three of which are council-at-large seats.
The councilpeople-at-large run every four years at the same time as the mayor. The ward seats are up every four years as well, but always two years after the mayoral election.
The candidates so far
As of Wednesday Feb. 7, three of the five incumbents, 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, 5th Ward Councilman Michael Cricco, and 6th Ward Councilman Angelo Nino Giacchi, had already requested their petition at the City Clerk's Office. Councilman Michael Russo of the 3rd Ward and Councilman Christopher Campos of the 4th Ward have yet to take out petitions for their re-election.
Campos has stirred up some controversy recently for being charged with Driving While Intoxicated in New York City. His court date is Tuesday, March 6 in New York.
Although Mayor David Roberts has said he does not plan to run for another term in office, he is currently in the process of putting together a ticket that will include candidates in all six wards.
"I'm meeting with people who expressed interest in running for the council, and rest assured, we are going to run a very spirited, high-profile slate in each ward," said Roberts.
As of now, the only three residents who have officially declared their candidacy are: Richard Tremitiedi, a former Hoboken fire chief who served with the department for 35 years and hopes to become the next 2nd Ward Councilman; Dawn Zimmer, a photographer and former board member at the Kaplan Cooperative Preschool who plans to run against Campos and represent the city's 4th Ward, and Perry Belfiore, a former Board of Education Member for 11 years and current Hoboken Housing Authority Commissioner who plans to challenge Cricco in the 5th Ward. Belfiore has run for council before, but Zimmer and Tremitiedi have not.
You can run if....
In order to become a candidate, one must reside in a ward for at least one year and be able to obtain signatures from 1 percent of registered voters in that ward.
Petitions for the signatures are available at the city's Clerk's Office at 94 Washington St. and must be returned to City Hall no later than March 15.
In order to be eligible to vote in this year's council election, one must register either online at www.hobokennj.org or go to the City Clerk's office and fill out the necessary paperwork.
The 2007 City Council election is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 8. If a run-off should occur, each candidate will receive five weeks to campaign, at the end of which a second vote will be held to determine the next council member.
According to the City Clerk's Office, there are approximately 27,900 registered voters in the city of Hoboken. However, only 7,611 individuals voted in the last council ward election in May of 2003, during which there were four run-offs involving the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th Wards.
Hoboken's form of government
Hoboken's City Council acts as the legislative branch of the municipality, thereby countering the mayor's executive branch power and providing a more balanced approach toward local government.
According to the Faulkner Act, which is an optional Municipal Charter Law for New Jersey that is used by Hoboken, the council is in place to pass resolutions and ordinances, there by creating or amending current
municipal laws. Other powers of the council include: conducting a legislative inquiry or investigation, removing any municipal officer for cause, declaring emergencies, and being able to override the mayor's veto to an ordinance with a two-thirds vote.
To find out more about the upcoming City Council election log onto http://www.hobokennj.org/html/clerk/poll.html.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com.