Hoboken residents who live in the city's 4th, 5th and 6th wards will decide on Tuesday, June 12 who will represent them on the nine-member City Council for the next four years.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If you do not know which ward you reside in or where you are supposed to vote, contact the City Clerk's office at (201) 420-2073 or the Hudson County Clerk's Office at (201) 795-6112.
The initial ward elections took place on May 8 and resulted in the re-election of 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo. Elizabeth Mason won the 2nd Ward seat, replacing retiring 2nd Ward Councilman Richard Del Boccio.
Because there were more than two candidates in each of the 4th, 5th and 6th ward races and no single candidate received more than 50 percent of the overall vote, runoffs will be held.
The most heated election this Tuesday is for the 4th Ward, near the city's southwestern border. Incumbent Councilman Christopher Campos, a lawyer, takes on challenger Dawn Zimmer, a marketing professional. In the 5th Ward, incumbent Michael Cricco chose not to run again, so candidates Perry Belfiore and Peter Cunningham are vying for the seat.
In the 6th Ward, incumbent Councilman Angelo "Nino" Giacchi is being challenged by candidate Thomas Foley.
New look at the 5th Ward
In the 5th Ward, which represents the northwest part of town, candidate Peter Cunningham received 587 votes during the May 8 election, approximately 47 percent of the vote. The next runner-up was candidate Perry Belfiore, who received 383 votes.
Cunningham, a father of two who moved to Hoboken in 1993, is a vice president of a global financial services company and the co-founder and president of the Hoboken Dog Association.
Belfiore, a father of four and native of Hoboken, is a consultant for a construction management firm based out of Piscataway. He also has served as the vice-president of the Board of Education, is currently a commissioner at the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA), and has run restaurants in Hoboken.
After falling 204 votes shy of Cunningham in the previous election, Belfiore is looking to make up ground with an aggressive campaign, questioning Cunningham's ability to serve due to his alleged connections with municipal bond transactions in Hudson County.
Belfiore also revealed that Cunningham is a registered Republican in an area that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Two weeks ago, 5th Ward voters got two separate automated phone calls from Belfiore's campaign letting them know that Cunningham is a Republican.
Last week, Cunningham responded to the revelations.
He said that he is a registered Republican, but does not vote along party lines and has supported and donated to Democrats in the past. He said he does not support Pres. George Bush's policies.
Cunningham also said that he hasn't revisited his party affiliation for a while, saying that in part it is because his parents were Republicans and that he registered earlier in life. He said it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Belfiore was not impressed. "I'm proud to be a Democrat and what it stands for," said Belfiore. "How come none of [Cunningham's] campaign literature has come out with him being a Republican. What is he running away from?"
Belfiore added that Cunningham had told him a year ago that Hudson County was his number one client in the sale of municipal bonds. But Cunningham responded that Belfiore's statement was a "complete lie" and that Hudson County is not his number one client. He said the conversation never took place. Cunningham said that as a trustee for bond transactions, he has acted as an intermediary between his company and the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA), which funds county projects. Cunningham said he never took part in the sale or structuring of any bonds.
"My expertise lies in knowing bond transactions. [Perry] is spinning lies and trying to put me in a conflict which doesn't exist," said Cunningham.
Belfiore has some history of his own that needed explaining last week. In 1994, just before Belfiore got onto the Board of Education, then-Hoboken Schools Superintendent Dr. Edwin Duroy was suspended on charges of financial mismanagement by a self-proclaimed reform majority of the Hoboken Board of Education. Two months later, after the board election, Belfiore and his allies held the majority on the board. They asked the New Jersey School Boards Association to recommend a hearing officer to look into the matter. The officer found there to be no evidence of financial mismanagement on Duroy's part, so after the hearing officer presented his findings to the state, Belfiore's majority voted Duroy back in.
Things were quiet on the board for a while, and Duroy left Hoboken and went to Paterson in 1997, where he was appointed by the state to be the superintendent of the third largest school system in New Jersey. However, in June of 2004, Duroy stepped down from that position after being accused of financial mismanagement and alleged political cronyism that was believed by some to have cost the troubled, state-run school system millions of dollars.
The state reassigned Duroy to another job.
The Paterson School District had a contract with a construction company for which Belfiore was working at the time.
So did Duroy hire Belfiore in Paterson as a payback for Belfiore's support in Hoboken? And was Belfiore wrong to have supported Duroy so many years earlier?
Belfiore said last week that Duroy was not the one who arranged for him to be hired in Paterson. He said that the private company he worked for assigned him there.
Belfiore also noted that Duroy was not charged or convicted with any crime.
"It was not an example of cronyism," Belfiore said. "I was working for a private company who assigned me to work with that district, and who kept me there after [Duroy] left."
Belfiore said that he stayed on in his position for a year longer working with the Paterson School District, then was reassigned by his company to work with another school district in New Jersey.
Belfiore said, "[Edwin Duroy] was a friend of mine and he remains a friend of mine. He was never charged or convicted of any crime, and he was suspended [while in Hoboken] on trumped up charges made by individuals who are not fit to shine his shoes."
A more recent issue that arose was Belfiore's campaign's failure to file his state election contribution (ELEC) reports. In fact, Belfiore said they were filed this past Monday - almost two months after they were due.
Belfiore said that the person whom he assigned to send them in did not do the job. He said he took full blame for that mishap.
As of Thursday, the reports were still not available on the agency's website, www.elec.state.nj.us/index.html.
The 6th Ward
In the 6th Ward, which represents the central waterfront, incumbent Councilman Angelo Giacchi, who has been representing the ward for the past six years, received 302 votes. Attorney Thomas Foley received 242 votes, and former candidate William Noonan received 234.
Both the councilman and his challenger are lawyers, with Giacchi being a native Hobokenite with three children and Foley, a father of two, moving to Hoboken in 1997.
The two candidates have both acknowledged the race as a quiet one as compared with other runoffs. They described it as a "gentleman's race," which consists mostly of knocking on doors and meeting their neighbors in the street rather than going after each other to gain support.
There is one interesting development. Tom Foley shares his first and last name with another Hoboken resident who works in City Hall and is a member of the Elks Club.
One candidate said last week that some people voted for Foley because they thought he was the other man. Foley, the candidate, said last week that he did not believe the rumor was true. He added jokingly, "If it is true, I'll take whatever help I can get."
In other 6th Ward news, the voting station for district 6-4 will be relocated to 5 Church Towers from Demarest High School, according to Deputy City Clerk John DePalma, due to overcrowding at the Demarest site.
New developments in 4th Ward
In the 4th Ward, which represents the city's southwest region of town, Councilman Christopher Campos received 746 votes on May 8, approximately 47 percent of the overall vote, while candidate Dawn Zimmer received 609 votes.
Campos, a native of Hoboken who was born and raised in the city's federally funded Housing Authority, was elected for the first time in 2001, to finish out a two-year term vacated by Ruben Ramos after he became councilman-at-large. Campos was reelected in the 4th Ward in 2003.
Campos is an attorney who practices out of a law office in Edgewater and whose area of concentration includes litigation, real estate, and sports and entertainment. He also is a municipal prosecutor for West New York. Campos received bad publicity earlier this year when he was arrested on a Driving While Intoxicated charge in New York City after allegedly running a red light. Campos has pleaded not guilty to the DWI charge. The court date has been pushed back to June 27.
Zimmer, a mother of two who moved to Hoboken from New York City in 2001, is a marketing professional who specializes in photography and is also a member of the Southwest Parks Coalition Steering Committee. A major aspect of the Zimmer campaign has been her opposition to the city's current Southwest Redevelopment Plan, which sets up development guidelines for a 15-block area near the city's southern border. She thinks there will be too much development without adequate planning for traffic and flooding concerns.
Campos is in favor of the plan.
Senior citizen's daughter: Zimmer is wrong
The race has become increasingly intense, with Campos and Zimmer making serious charges about each other's campaigning methods.
Zimmer noted correctly that Campos got his campaign financing forms in late, and that they showed several donations from developers and contractors.
Campos noted that Zimmer's campaign had a senior citizen who was in the hospital fill out an absentee ballot for her. The senior citizen later gave a signed statement that she was intimidated into filling out the absentee ballot for Zimmer.
The Zimmer camp acknowledged having the senior fill out the form while she was in the hospital. But they denied that she was intimidated into doing it. However, last week, the senior citizen's daughter contacted the Reporter to say that her mother is telling the truth.
"My mother is not a liar, which is what Ms. Zimmer is implying," she said. "[My mother] told me, and I told Chris. [Campos] in no way intimidated my mother."
Zimmer's campaign manager, Doug Snyder, responded, "[Her] loyalty to her mother is understandable, but she was not present in the room and therefore does not know what occurred."
City will look into donation to Campos
Last week, a local group called the People for Open Government (POG), an organization dedicated to promoting open government, complained about one of Campos' donors. They noted that according to the 2007 Public Contracting Reform Ordinance passed unanimously by the City Council in February, no business currently in contract with the city is permitted to donate to a candidate for their campaign.
POG then noted a $500 donation to Campos made by the Washington D.C.-based lobbying firm of Krivit & Krivit, which currently has a contract with the city from July of '06 to June of '07.
According to Campos, the donation is not a violation because the contract began prior to the February ordinance being passed, and the law is not retroactive, as far as he understands.
POG disagrees. The organization's Acting President James Castiglione said that both the 2005 and 2007 laws ban contributions to candidates from companies in contract with the city, making Campos' point moot. POG has already informed Mayor David Roberts and City Council President Richard Del Boccio, so that they can investigate the matter.
During Wednesday evening's City Council meeting, Corporation Counsel Steven Kleinman acknowledged that he was aware of the matter and said that he would look into it.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com. Thomas Foley