Carmelo Garcia gets the ax…for now
Aug 10, 2014 | 3858 views | 2 2 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Despite dramatic protests, the Hoboken City Council has voted to oust Carmelo Garcia as executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority, replacing him – at least for the moment – with Richard Fox.

This only feeds into the perception that Mayor Dawn Zimmer has been out to get him – part of an escalating series of confrontations over the last few years – which included Garcia accusing Zimmer of “ethnic cleansing” because of perceived opposition to his plans to rebuilding housing projects in Hoboken.

Some believe that Garcia’s accusations were the reason for the bad feelings between Zimmer and Garica, but in fact, the Zimmer administration unsuccessfully tried to remove him prior to that.

The housing projects have long been a breeding ground of anti-Zimmer sentiment, as the city’s political old guard milked the distrust of Zimmer for votes against her and her reportedly reform agenda.

Garcia became a pivotal figure in that opposition and his removal may cripple the anti-Zimmer votes ahead of the midterm ward council elections in May of 2015.

Garcia, who is also a state assemblyman, has not helped his own cause. There are some unanswered questions involving some of his activities as executive director. But any justification for his removal will do little to stop the lawsuit he is expected to file over his removal, or reduce the perception among his supporters that this was anything but a political hatchet job.

Bayonne war may become a county war James Davis’ victory over Mark Smith for mayor of Bayonne could lead to a wider conflict, depending on whether or not state Sen. Sandra Cunningham wants to run for county executive against incumbent Tom DeGise.

Prior to this, most people assumed that Freeholder Bill O’Dea was going to challenge DeGise in 2015. But with so many powerful people coming out in favor of DeGise – such as State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack – it is clear O’Dea cannot win.

Known as a political maverick, some powerful people would be concerned about where he might wind up on any given issue. O’Dea, for instance, opposed doing away with sports in the County Schools of Technology, while Sacco supported the measure.

But with Cunningham, the whole scenario changes.

Some people are pushing her to run as a means to finally do away with the old Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO).

The old guard had hoped to retain power by backing Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy in 2013, and then got behind Smith against Davis. Many of them are currently taking refuge in the county where they need DeGise to keep his seat while they regroup.

This may explain why DeGise changed his mind and decided to run for reelection. He doesn’t need them; they need him. DeGise is loyal to his supporters. But if Cunningham is convinced to run, she will likely get a lot of support from Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and others.

Her victory would open up a state Senate seat for someone of Fulop’s choice ahead of his expected run for governor. O’Dea, a Fulop supporter, could be rewarded by getting an Assembly seat nomination or even a shot at the state Senate seat currently occupied by Cunningham.

November candidates file

Meanwhile, November’s election looms and candidates filed throughout the county for a variety of seats on county and local levels.

Joseph J. Ryglicki, who replaces the retiring Donald DeLeo, is running unopposed for County Surrogate.

Kenneth Kopacz is running with HCDO support for Freeholder in District 1, which includes all of Bayonne and a small portion of Jersey City. He is being opposed by Independent Michael Alonzo. Kopacz won the Democratic nomination in June despite being supported by Mayor Smith, a testimony to his ability to overcome adversity.

O’Dea is running unopposed for reelection as freeholder in District 2 in the West Side of Jersey City.

Fulop-backed Gerard Balmir is being challenged by Dwayne Baskerville in District 3, which has a large portion of Southern Jersey City. Balmir beat Incumbent Freeholder Jeff Dublin in the primary, and it is hard to tell if Dublin will help Baskerville, Dublin reportedly is eying one of the two assembly seats in the 2015 primary.

Freeholders E. Junior Maldonado (of downtown Jersey City), Anthony Romano (of Jersey City Heights and Hoboken), Tilo Rivas (of Union City), Caridad Rodriguez (of West New York and Weehawken) and Albert Cifelli (of West Hudson and part of Secaucus) are all running unopposed as well.

Anthony P. Vainieri Jr. – who replaces retiring Thomas Liggio – is being opposed by Odemaris Ramirez in District 8, which includes all of North Bergen and a portion of Secaucus.

Other candidates file

Guttenberg has two elections taking place in November, one for at-large council which has Alfonso Caso and Donna Florio running for the two at-large seats, and a Board of Education election that has Michael Baruch, Delores Loppe and Gonzalo E. Perez running for three year terms.

To nobody’s great surprise, Secaucus council candidates supported by the popular Mayor Michael Gonnelli are running unopposed: Gary M. Jeffas, James J. Clancy Sr. and Susan Pirro.

Candidates for the Hoboken school board include Sharyn L. Angley, Peter Biancamano, Lynn Danzker, Jackie Dowd Prince, Antonio Gray, Britney Montgomery, Brian Murray, Barbara Reyes, Frances Rhodes Kearns, Monica Stromwall, and Patricia Waiters. While the election will determine if candidates for traditional Hoboken can retain or gain a seat, the real issue that splits the board involves support for charter schools.

Candidates for Jersey City Board of Education include Carol Harrison-Arnold, Monica Kress, Dominique D. Lee, Gerald Lyons, Bertram C. Okpokwasili, Michael Reilly, Lorenzo Richardson, Joel Torres, and Gina Verdibello.

The second round of Board of Education elections will decide whether or not pro or anti Mayor Felix Roque candidates control the board. The candidates are: Patrick R. Cullen, Jr., Juan Carlos Alvarado, Ana M. Cerqueira, Isabel C. Henao, Lorraine Morrell, Adam Parkinson, Joel Campos-Alvis, Cesar Aguirre, Jason P. Capizzi, Damarys Gonzalez, Thomas M. Leung, Dennise E. Mejia, Humberto Ortega, Monica M. Parra, Steven A. Rodas, Myrli T. Sanchez, Henry Song, and F. Marie Volpe.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 10, 2014
errrr, Al, i know you think mayor zimmer controls the HHA board but did you notice that you stated the hoboken city council voted for mr. garcia's termination? last i checked it was the HHA board that has that power? just very biased reporting on your really need to be more careful with what you write
August 10, 2014
The anti-Zimmer sentiment is part of an orchestrated political strategy and the manipulation of HHA resident is just one more example.

As Hoboken continues to get better, the "old guard" political operatives understand that attacking on substantive issues is not going to give them the results the long for.

So they have gone back to their old divisive hate mongering to try to consolidate their ever shrinking vote.