The old 1970s song by Chicago, “Feeling Stronger Every Day,” may well serve as the campaign theme song for Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s reelection effort next year, if her State of the City address is any indication.
She was positive, to the point, and even got a laugh or two, except from some of her more cynical would-be challengers, a few of whom walked out in a huff.
While she hasn’t likely hired Jerry Seinfeld as her speech writer, Zimmer clearly has stepped up her rhetoric and perhaps has been secretly taking acting lessons on the sly.
“She was poised, and at ease,” one attendee said. “You could tell from her body language that she was comfortable. She must have somebody working with her.”
After more than a year of heavy political attacks, Zimmer may have finally become more immune, although winning decisively over a variety of issues including the sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center may have inspired her.
This new-found confidence may give other contenders pause, since the field against her is currently crowded with people who want to run or are thinking of running, but haven’t yet made the commitment.
Zimmer’s most obvious opponent is Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, but he hardly has unanimous support from the anti-Zimmer people and his future largely depends on if he can get the support of a big brother such as State Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, or State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
But gauging from some remarks Stack made to Ramos supporters last month outside the wake for former Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, his support may not be there. One problem for Ramos is that in Hudson County, he can either seek support from Stack or Sacco and not both, otherwise neither will back him.
But Ramos may not have the support of other powerful political entities such as Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, who chairs the Hudson County Democratic Organization, or Rep. Albio Sires, whose job, rumor claims, Ramos once aspired to.
“Beating Zimmer isn’t going to be easy,” one source said. “It will take a united effort, but right now the opposition isn’t united, a lot of people want to run.”
While the municipal elections are still a year away, most will have to make up their minds by this summer and already be on their way to building a slate of council candidates.
Litmus test for Hoboken municipal elections
The litmus test for the 2013 Hoboken mayoral election will likely be the upcoming school board elections.
Some are pushing Maria McGovern Hernandez, daughter of former Hoboken cop Patty McGovern, to run.
While some are backing the reelection of Maureen Sullivan in opposition to the Zimmer supported Kids First slate, not everybody in the opposition is comfortable with Sullivan.
While the opposition hopes to defeat Kids First’s candidate Theresa Minutillo, many believe she will be reelected anyway.
“She is their strong point,” one observer said.
Some want Frank Raia to run for the school board and not for mayor as he apparently is planning to do.
In Secaucus, Robert Anderson, who resigned his position as president of the teachers union, will be running in April, hoping to reverse the support the current schools superintendent has with the board. Secaucus teachers’ have twice held a vote of no-confidence against the superintendent, but the current board supports her. With teacher and parent support for his slate, Anderson has a good chance of getting elected.
Moving the school election is tempting but…
The choice to move school board elections from April to November is very tempting to some school districts that are tired of being forced to get their budget passed by an overtaxed public.
Another argument is that more people turn out to vote for November elections than in April, a sad fact that is unfortunately true, since many school budgets are larger than the budget the municipality passes each year.
But the move is also a backhanded way by Gov. Christopher Christie to institute central control over local schools, and another way to break the back of the teachers’ unions, which his administration has so far been unable to do.
Budgets under the November proposal would not be subject to voter approval if they fall within the two percent funding cap for annual increases. This means that school districts that deliberately underfund their own schools because they are not keeping up with cost of annual inflation will have to cut back somewhere or once more face the wrath of angry taxpayers in the polling booth.
Tenure and Civil Service – two aspects of government Christie is trying to do away with – were designed to protect teachers and public workers from the political whims of changing political parties, and it seems that Christie is bound and determined to go back to the bad old days when teachers and public workers had to genuflect before political bosses before they could do their jobs.
In Hoboken, several council people are working to prevent the move. In Secaucus, Mayor Mike Gonnelli said the council and board are also opposed to the move.
Challenging Brennan may have been a mistake
The move to remove Councilman Peter Brennan as Jersey City council president and replace him with Viola Richardson may have been a political blunder because it looks to have united many of those who oppose Fulop’s 2013 mayoral bid.
While it is very unlikely that incumbent Mayor Jerramiah Healy will run again, the move to replace Brennan has brought together a number of his people who are seeking a candidate to support and most likely that candidate will be Assemblyman Sean Connors.