Zimmer defeated a former city councilman of six years, Christopher Campos, by approximately 114 votes. Zimmer's victory represented a shift in power in the city's 4th Ward, which contains the city's federally subsidized housing projects as well as many new condos. Traditionally, that council post has always gone to native Hobokenites, whereas Zimmer moved to town less than six years ago.
The final tally was 1070 to 956, according to the Hoboken city clerk's office. The tally does not include approximately 40 provisional ballots that as of Thursday had not been counted by the county Board of Elections.
Zimmer was sworn in at the start of City Council meeting Wednesday evening, in the company of what appeared to be close to 100 supporters who applauded her.
"I'm overwhelmed. We took [the election] back to the people and it's clear that I'm the one they want," said Zimmer during her victory celebration Tuesday night at the Quiet Woman Pub on First Street. "It's now time for the 4th Ward to come together and move forward as a community. I got into this because I care about our community and want to do what's best for our seniors, our children, all our residents who I've gotten to know through this campaign."
Now, Zimmer will have to continue working on issues including the flooding that hits the 4th Ward during storms, and maintaining open space in a crowded town. She also will have to deal with the city's proposed budget and with leadership changes in the housing projects.
When asked what her goals are for the next three and a half years in office, Zimmer said, "Maintaining the small-town feel of our town [while creating] a plan that brings more park space, affordable housing, and retail to the 4th Ward with environmentally friendly development."
Zimmer added, "I plan to continue working with concerned residents on the flood issue [and] I want to make sure that residents in the Housing Authority have the quality of life that they deserve with a safe neighborhood for their children, [plus] create more sports and recreation programs for the children of the 4th Ward."
Zimmer also mentioned pedestrian safety and fiscal responsibility as concerns.
In contrast to the Zimmer's celebration at The Quiet Woman, Campos and his supporters congregated at Bar None across from City Hall.
"I was very humbled by the passion expressed by my family and friends who exemplified the passion I have for them," said Campos Tuesday night.
He also congratulated Zimmer on her victory.
"My door will always be open to anyone who may look to my experience for guidance," he said. "I hope that our ward can come together and be part of the healing process after such a nasty election."
When asked if he would continue as a commissioner at the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA), a seat he received due to his status as a councilperson, Campos could not say, replying that it depended on the council's decision as to whom they appoint to the unpaid position.
Campos reiterated his commitment to the residents of the Housing Authority, expressing his desire to assist them in any way.
Other votes last week
Tuesday's election also saw several state legislative races (see story p. 5). Hoboken Councilman-At-Large Ruben Ramos Jr. was voted into the state legislature as one of two assemblymen representing the 33rd District of New Jersey, along with Caridad Rodriguez of West New York.
Union City Mayor Brian Stack becomes the new State Senator for the 33rd District, replacing outgoing State Sen. Bernard Kenny Jr.
A vote for open space
The city's 4th Ward race wasn't the only area of interest for Hoboken residents on last week's ballot. The municipal open space tax passed in a vote of 2,331 to 1,403, having received the majority of votes in all wards with the exception of the 3rd Ward on the city's west side.
Before the tax can be applied, the City Council must first ratify the measure. If approved, the tax will take 20 cents for every $1,000 of property owned by residents and put it towards a fund used for the acquisition and development of land for new parks in Hoboken.
The tax is modeled after the Open Space Trust Fund for Hudson County, which was created in 2005 and in 2006 alone accrued over $5.2 million for open space initiatives around the county.
Rather than waiting years to accumulate the funds needed to acquire a park, the city, if given the chance, will likely entertain an option to bond, using the $600,000 to get upwards of $7 million from a lender for the acquisition of new land. Before the city can go out to bond for any property purchase, the council must first approve the measure with an ordinance.
The resulting debt could be paid off over time by the open space tax, which according to its supporters on the council, should be rescinded once there are no more opportunities to acquire land for park space in Hoboken and all debts have been paid.
State-funded stem cell research voted down
In addition to local issues, Hoboken residents also voted on a series of questions that affected the state as a whole. The most controversial of the issues involved the "New Jersey Stem Cell Research Bond Act," which would have authorized the sale of $450 million worth of state bonds to be used for "stem cell research projects." Stem cells, which exist in all multi-cellular organisms, regenerate tissue over a lifetime, causing many medical researchers to believe they can be used to potentially change the treatment of diseases in humans.
In order to conduct the research, the current techniques to obtain the stem cells requires the destruction of a human embryo, which many consider to be a life, and/or therapeutic cloning, wherein lies the controversy.
Although the question passed in Hoboken, with a vote of 2,845 to 1,157, the initiative was voted down statewide.
Similarly, a property tax reform question, asking the voters to dedicate a percentage of the New Jersey sales tax toward property tax relief, also failed across the state. But it was approved in Hoboken by a vote of 1,930 to 1,880.
One statewide question that was approved on Tuesday involved the authorization of $200 million dollars worth of state bonds to provide money towards the acquisition and development of river floodways across the state for recreation and conservation purposes.
Hoboken residents voted in favor of the measure by 2,672 to 1,275.
And lastly, voters were asked to delete the phrase of "idiot or insane person" from the state constitution regarding individuals who cannot vote because of their mental state. The measure was approved across the state, receiving a 2,480 to 1,310 vote in Hoboken.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.