Who gets your vote on Tuesday?
Hoboken to choose mayor, three council-at-large members Nov. 5
by Dean DeChiaro
Reporter staff writer
Nov 03, 2013 | 4439 views | 0 0 comments | 122 122 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The three candidates vying to be the next mayor of Hoboken have been busy these days. During the morning rush hour they’ve been spotted, sometimes uncomfortably close to each other, passing out campaign literature at Hoboken Terminal and the uptown ferry station. In the afternoons they’ve been meeting with constituents, and in the evenings they’ve been organizing phone banks. It’s been a long election season, and one of the wilder ones in recent memory.

Now, it’s up to you to decide who wins on Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Some may vote based on the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They’re likely supporting the incumbent, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has run a campaign aimed at capitalizing on the successes of her first term. She has touted her role in keeping Hoboken University Medical Center open and at the same time saving taxpayers money by selling it to a private company. Even before her entry into politics, she was an advocate for preserving open space and remaining vigilant about overdevelopment. She has made changes to keep corruption at bay, including returning the power to choose Zoning Board members to the City Council. She also has developed what she calls a comprehensive plan to stop flooding. She won national praise for her handling of Hurricane Sandy.
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Three mayoral candidates. Ten city council candidates. Thousands of Hoboken voters. Who will you choose?
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Those who see Zimmer’s first term as less than satisfactory may vote for state Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, the first politician who came out to challenge her. He has stressed moving the city forward through compromise and cooperation. (In the last year, the council has often been stymied by two bitterly opposed factions.) A former city councilman, Ramos has said that his experience in Trenton as well as on the council has prepared him to tackle Hoboken’s. He was instrumental in getting funding for a flood pump that was installed in Hoboken after Tropical Storm Irene. Before that, when he was on the City Council, he pushed for the renovation of the Little League field and to save St. Mary Hospital. As an assemblyman, he worked primarily on green infrastructure legislation, and served as the chairman of the Committee on Regulatory Oversight and Gaming, as well as on the Joint Committee on Public Schools.

Or voters may opt for the third candidate, 4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti, who entered the race after the others. Occhipinti is running on a platform of uniting factions in Hoboken he sees as divided. His campaign, One Hoboken, is meant to bring together those who identify with “new” Hoboken – primarily young professionals – and those who see themselves as part of “old” Hoboken, longtime residents who have lived here for generations. He has protested the cancelation of the St. Patrick’s Parade and has made an issue of the large increase in booting and ticketing cars during the Zimmer administration.

Regarding Tuesday’s controversial rent control referendum to take certain apartments off rent control when a current tenant moves out, Zimmer and Ramos are against the decontrol measure, while Occhipinti is in favor of it.

Zimmer, Ramos and Occhipinti agree on what is most pressing to Hoboken – flooding, development, open space, parking and boosting small business – but they’re not in full agreement as to how to achieve goals associated with those issues. For the full story that ran in last weekend’s edition on each candidate’s plans and criticisms against the candidates, see http://bit.ly/1aySvFK.

City Council

If Zimmer, Ramos and Occhipinti are the three busiest people in Hoboken these days, then the 10 residents running for three open seats on the nine-member City Council aren’t far behind. Each mayoral candidate has fielded a slate of three council candidates each, and perennial candidate Patricia Waiters is running as an independent on an anti-corruption platform.

The Vision for Hoboken Team supporting Ramos is made up of Eduardo Gonzalez, Joe Mindak, and Laura Miani. In recent interviews, they discussed smart budgeting, park space and local business as their main areas of concern. Gonzalez has been highly critical of Zimmer’s budget practices, while Mindak says she’s done little to boost the local economy, and Miani has expressed concerns over a lack of open space where her children can play sports.

All three of the Vision for Hoboken candidates said they were frustrated by what they said was City Hall’s lack of communication and focus on “politics” rather than effective governance.

Occhipinti’s slate is modeled on his campaign’s ethos of mixing old and new residents. Frank Raia and Peter Biancamano are lifelong residents, while Britney Montgomery-Cook moved here eight years ago. Each of Occhipinti’s council candidates have argued for an immediate end to flooding via bonding to create flood pumps, and say that they will use Parking Utility revenue to build new parking garages in undeveloped parts of town.

Zimmer’s team is comprised of incumbents Ravi Bhalla and David Mello, as well as newcomer Jim Doyle. They say that they’re looking to build on the accomplishments of the mayor’s first term. Some of the mayor’s agenda was stalled by Hurricane Sandy and a lack of a ninth council member due to litigation, and they say that if Doyle can win the open seat, there is lots of progress that can be made in another four years.

A former corrections officer, Waiters is running for council independently of a slate, and regularly makes it known when she speaks at council meetings that her loyalties lie solely with the residents of Hoboken. Waiters has said that uniting Hoboken is a prerequisite to progress, and that the important problems couldn’t be solved without bringing everyone on board. She has referred to her consistent attendance of council, housing authority, planning and zoning board and board of education meetings as an indicator of her loyalty to public service and the people of Hoboken.

For a full story on the council candidates that ran in a recent edition, visit http://bit.ly/H3lSFe.

Dean DeChiaro may be reached at deand@hudsonreporter.com

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