Like many of my friends and neighbors, I was stunned, shocked and saddened by the events last week surrounding our newly elected mayor. After the results of the recent mayoral election -- including the high turnout in the run-off -- many of us thought Hoboken politics had perhaps turned a corner; regardless of who would win, there seemed to be a sense that city government might finally get itself pointed in the right direction. It appears our hopes were short-lived, but the good governance that we all seek can get back on track if Mayor Cammarano does the right thing and immediately resigns his office.
I was briefly a candidate in the recent city council election for a council at large seat. (After I went through the protocol to get my name on the ballot, I did the electoral math and decided it was impossible to compete against larger, well financed tickets and entrenched interests, so I withdrew.) As I met with thousands of Hoboken residents to ask them to sign my petition, the overwhelming desire of the people I had a chance to talk with was quite simple: honest, transparent, and independent government that served the citizens of Hoboken, not special interests. My potential candidacy as an independent, not part of any ticket, not needing to repay favors, just serving the citizens of Hoboken, led hundreds of people to enthusiastically sign my petition. But the message was clear. The voters were ready for change, wanted leaders for our City who understand the difference between right and wrong.
Of the many tragedies in this affair, potentially the greatest is the apparent disregard of right vs. wrong by the city’s highest elected official. We know that the courts will determine guilt vs. innocence. As someone recently told me, “…just be because its wrong doesn’t make it illegal.” While this may be true, I think it’s irrelevant: The ability to distinguish between right and wrong speak volumes of one’s character and the degree to which someone should be entrusted with the responsibilities that come with being mayor. As children, we read books, are told stories, watch movies that attempt to reinforce the need to make good choices as we navigate difficult and often temptable aspects of life. Each day we all are faced with choices and decisions that may or may not have negative repercussions. As parents, we work every day to teach our children to make good choices.
By now we’ve all read the criminal complaint, cash in envelopes paid out of car trunks in dinner parking lots, turning the 49% of the electorate who didn’t vote for him “into powder”, a general disrespect of Hoboken’s electorate along racial and ethnic line “… they’d vote for me even if I was indicted.” This isn’t leadership – it shows a complete lack of judgment, very poor character and, most importantly, left unchallenged it tells our children these are qualities and actions that get rewarded in life.
Mayor Cammarano, there are many reasons you should resign, but just as important as any is the poor example you have set for Hoboken’s youth. When a class from a Hoboken school comes to City Hall, when the Cub Scouts ask you to visit, when you give a speech on opening day of Little League, how can you possibly explain away your words and actions that are contained in the criminal complaint. Our constitution says you are innocent until proven guilty, but Mr., Mayor, we do not need a court of law to tell us your actions and words were just plain wrong. The people of Hoboken deserve a better mayor and Hoboken’s children deserve a better role model.