Yogi Berra, and his trademark line couldn’t be more appropriate for the 2014 Bayonne municipal election.
With the runoff on June 10 now less than two weeks away, forces are mobilizing for the second campaign.
Five of the six available seats on the municipal government, those of mayor, second ward council, third ward council, and two at-large council, are still up for grabs.
Mayor Mark Smith is set to face off against Police Capt. James Davis again. In the Second Ward, Councilman Joseph Hurley (Smith) and Salvatore Gullace (Davis) will do battle, as will Councilman Ray Greaves (Smith) and Gary La Pelusa (Davis) in the Third Ward. The at-large runoff pits Council President Terrence Ruane and Councilwoman Debra Czerwienski (both Smith) against Juan Perez and Sharon Nadrowski (both Davis).
The surprise of the slim margin between Smith and Davis on May 13 had barely worn off before another shockwave hit.
Former challenger Anthony Zanowic—whose four percent vote tally had thrown the mayor’s race into the runoff in the first place—endorsed Smith and his slate on May 16. Many were surprised, as Zanowic had been a vocal critic of the mayor dating back to last summer.
The endorsement sweepstakes were not over with that one handshake.
Five days later, on May 21, the Davis campaign held a midday press conference, at which three of the council candidates defeated in the general election made their endorsements.
Leonard Kantor, a Zanowic running mate, as well as independents Washington Flores and John Sebik, came out for Davis’s Moving Bayonne in the Right Direction ticket. Virgil Maldonado, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association local in Bayonne, also endorsed the slate, and said he would encourage his union members to vote for Davis and his running mates.
On May 22, Smith’s camp announced the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Local Council 52 and AFSCME Council 1.
Besides Kantor, none of the other Zanowic ticket members had committed to either remaining slate.
Chelsea Jeskie, the former Second Ward candidate, said she had talked to both campaigns but had not decided on any endorsement, or if she was even going to make one. Daniel Herrera, Zanowic’s First Ward candidate, said he had not made a public decision, even though the Smith team’s Moving Bayonne Forward sign was seen in front of his home. Anthony Di Iorio, Zanowic’s Third Ward candidate, could not be reached for comment.
Third Ward independent candidate Michael Alonso had not made an endorsement, saying he owed it “to the hundreds of people who supported me” to weigh his decision carefully.
Smith launched the week with a rally on Monday, May 19, at his campaign headquarters between 25th and 26th streets on Broadway. The Davis campaign held another campaign fundraiser on Wednesday, May 21, at the Villa Maria restaurant on Broadway.
Davis said that since the election he had been contacted numerous times by people now wanting to contribute to this campaign, including those who stopped by his 16th Street and Broadway headquarters and handed him checks.
On Wednesday the ballot positions for the runoff were determined at City Hall.
Smith will hold the first position of 1A. Davis will be listed at 2A.
Call for debates
Also on May 21, the Smith team called for debates in the runoff elections. Spokesman Michael Makarski said the campaign was asking for three debates each in the races for mayor, at-large, and in both individual wards.
“The upcoming runoff election is critical for the future of Bayonne, and residents should have the opportunity to see what each candidate’s vision is for the future of the city,” Makarski said in a written statement.
“We never got a formal request with regard to any dates, or parameters of the debate, who’s hosting it, or information of any other nature,” said Joseph DeMarco, Davis campaign manager, on Friday, May 23.
DeMarco said there wasn’t a lot of time left in the campaign for such debates, with fundraisers, meet and greets, and other events already planned.
“They should have made this request in the month prior to the May 13th election,” he said.
One race settled
Thomas Cotter of the Moving Bayonne in the Right Direction slate was the only outright winner in the May 13 election, taking the First Ward council seat from incumbent Agnes Gillespie of Smith’s team, starting July 1.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at: JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.