With a heated mayoral runoff election shaping up for June 9, voters are asking more questions about both candidates. Less than 100 votes separated Peter Cammarano and Dawn Zimmer in the May 12 citywide election, and third-place candidate Beth Mason’s 2,500 voters could go one way or the other in the runoff.
Many staunch Beth Mason supporters aren’t sure where her 2,500 votes are going.
In a conventional election, the vast majority of Mason’s votes would go to Zimmer, but this election has been anything but conventional. Many staunch Beth Mason supporters aren’t sure where her 2,500 votes are going.
Long list of supporters
Cammarano, a young attorney, spent last week racking up endorsements: Assemblyman and outgoing Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr.; former mayoral and council candidates Ryn Melberg, Timothy Occhipinti, and Chris Carbine; and Hoboken’s Police Benevolence Association.
He was the honored guest of a fundraiser in Newark hosted by city councilmen Anibal Ramos and Ronald Rice Jr. and attended by Essex County power brokers: North Ward boss Steve Adubato; attorney Elnardo Webster, who works closely with Newark Mayor Cory Booker; Assemblyman Albert Coutinho; State Sen. Teresa Ruiz.
Cammarano’s mentor and boss, election lawyer Angelo Genova of Genova, Burns, and Vernoia, was present. Genova, who gave more than $25,000 in political contributions to various candidates last year, was tightlipped about his involvement in Cammarano’s development from a young attorney on a slate with Mayor David Roberts slate in 2005 to the 31-year-old could-be mayor himself. (Cammarano has since broken with Roberts.)
Genova said only that he tried to instill a sense of hard work and integrity in Cammarano, but that the candidate already brings intelligence and persuasiveness to the table.
Why the interest from Newark? It’s a personal thing between Cammarano and the backers, said Anibal Ramos, who worked with Cammarano is his capacity as an election lawyer three years ago.
Ramos, considered by many to be handsome, was introduced at the fundraiser as the “Puerto Rican George Clooney.” Cammarano jokingly asked later, “Can I be the Italian J.F.K.?”
Both Cammarano and Zimmer moved to Hoboken seven years ago.
This is the first election where the mayor will have grown up somewhere other than Hoboken. Both Cammarano and Zimmer moved to Hoboken seven years ago.
Working the local crowd
Last week, a Hoboken mom endorsed Cammarano on a local website, but some felt that the site misleadingly claimed the endorsement came from an entire online group of Hoboken moms. As a result, Zimmer’s campaign, which had endorsed three local mothers in the April Board of Education election, received a letter signed by 60 mothers from a group Hoboken Moms for Change citing the reasons they will vote for her on June 9.
Zimmer said she isn’t getting big-ticket endorsements or contributions as Cammarano is. She argued that those sorts of endorsements have promises attached to them.
State-level projects like the NJ Transit redevelopment area downtown and the Rockefeller Group redevelopment area uptown are being pushed from above, Zimmer said, and Cammarano is the man they want leading the way.
“He’s getting these endorsements because there’s big money at stake,” she said an hour after their debate on Thursday night. “And they don’t want to see me get elected.”
She was mingling among a small crowd of artists at a gallery open-house in the Monroe Center.
She said her nine years of experience in the private sector – mostly in crisis communications – have prepared her for running a city.
She worked for two companies in New York City, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide and Fumitomo Corporation of America, and handled communications in corporate “crisis” situations like lawsuits. Zimmer said she was responsible for public response to these events or situations. In the case of a major lawsuit, she coordinated outreach to with business owners and other affected parties.
“It’s about planning for the unplanned and getting critical information out as quickly as possible,” she said.
She gave up her career to raise her family and start a professional photography business three years ago, then ran for City Council.
Zimmer spent some time in Japan teaching English after earning her degree in history in New Hampshire, but regretted that no matter how long she was there, she would always be considered an outsider, a foreigner. She said that in Hoboken she hopes that doesn’t have to be the case.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at email@example.com.