The mayoral race in Hoboken is expected to get interesting this week as Councilwoman Beth Mason and former Board of Education Trustee Frank Raia lean closer to jumping into the election against incumbent Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Mason’s move would come despite a poll that showed that a three-way race may have unpredictable results.
In June, Zimmer was narrowly defeated in a runoff against Peter Cammarano, but with the help of voters who supported Mason in the first round of elections last May.
In theory, if Mason can take back her votes and put together a sizeable chunk of the votes cast for Cammarano, she should win.
Raia is the fly in the ointment, since it is possible that he could draw off enough Cammarano votes to swing the election to Zimmer – or in an even less likely scenario, Zimmer and Mason could draw off each other, leaving Raia to win.
The results of a poll done on Mason’s behalf in early September remain a closely guarded secret, but the numbers appear to give encouragement to Mason.
Campaign money will be an issue. Raia appears to be getting support from state Sen. Ray Lesniak , something that has apparently angered state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco enough to support Mason.
Zimmer, on the other hand, can’t have a lot left in her political gas tank after having been forced to pay for a regular mayoral election in May, and then the runoff in June. While she is supposedly getting support from high officials in Hudson County’s Democratic leadership, this will be an expensive election if Mason gets into it.
As interim or acting mayor, Zimmer has already become a target, and though she has barely had time to breathe in her new office, she is a punching bag for the opposition since she – as mayor, City Council president and the power behind the school board – sets the agenda for the city.
Critics have already screamed over her supposed global hiring practices, claiming that she has hired three of her own close associates as a confidential aide, parking authority executive director, and personal legal advisor.
A brilliant political move to retain her council seat while running for mayor may become a political liability in the upcoming election. State law says that a council president becomes acting mayor when the mayor steps down or is removed, and that the City Council has 30 days to vote on a replacement to serve as interim mayor. If the City Council can’t come to a consensus, the acting mayor continues as mayor until the special election. There is no provision in the law to deal with a council that refuses to vote at all on an interim mayor when it is perfectly obvious that five of the nine council members would pick Zimmer.
Zimmer is thus accused – perhaps a little unfairly – of dual-office holding, something she opposed when running as reform candidate.
West New York will have a recall
People seeking to remove West New York Mayor Sal Vega claim they have more than enough signatures to authorize a recall election – although they continue to gather more signatures to fend off any legal challenges. The question, however, leading up to the deadline on Sept. 15 is whether they want to hold the recall in November, when they might benefit from the backlash against Gov. Jon Corzine, or hold a special election next year uninfluenced by statewide trends.
In modern times, Hudson County has seen only one successful recall election, and that was in North Bergen.
The last significant recall happened in West New York when Albio Sires, then the maverick reformer, tried to remove Mayor Anthony DeFino, but failed when DeFino was reelected.
Secaucus Democrats in shambles?
With days left before the filing deadline, Secaucus Democrats appear still to lack a candidate to replace former Mayor Dennis Elwell, who successfully fended off a primary challenge last June against Peter Weiner, only to get his political train derailed when charged by federal authorities with accepting a bribe.
Although the Democratic Committee managed to nominate and eventually see former Councilman Richard Steffens named as interim mayor, finding a candidate to replace Elwell appears to be a chore beyond them, especially since many of them have become disheartened by Elwell’s arrest.
Former Councilman Richard Kane has told some he would run, but the committee may not nominate him, or anyone. If they put up a candidate, it will be a stick figure designed to keep the ticket together so that some of the council candidates might win reelection.
Bayonne candidates gearing up for special election
The special election to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Anthony Chiappone seems to be a test run for the municipal elections next May. To date, five candidates claim they are running, and one or two of them seem to be testing the water for a run in next year’s election. With the filing deadline looming, more candidates may yet emerge.