Leave it to the two frontrunners in the Nov. 3 special mayoral election in Hoboken to get lost on their way to filing their nominating petitions.
Filing to run in a municipal election requires proof that a candidate has the support of enough constituents – only, you are supposed get the signed petitions to the county clerk before 4 p.m. on filing deadline day.
Beth Mason, who is among the eight candidates for mayor, apparently got stuck in an elevator at the county’s new digs at Hudson County Plaza.
People have been going to the old Court House on Newark Street for so long to file petitions of this sort, it is understandable that someone might get lost in the somewhat twisted streets around the new location. But inside the building?
This, of course, has brought out all the conspiracy theorists who claim that County Executive Tom DeGise, a rumored Zimmer supporter, allegedly directed a county employee to direct Mason to an non-working elevator.
If anybody believes this, they should go talk to Bernie Madoff about an investment plan for retirement.
Despite paranoia spread among the various political factions, DeGise appears to want to keep his distance from the clearly volatile race in Hoboken, where picking a side can mean the start of a new political feud.
This may have been the subject of the two and half hour lunch between Zimmer and DeGise at Helmer’s in Hoboken last week.
DeGise already appears to be on strained terms with state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and working behind the scenes for even legitimate purposes might just cause a break in the party at a time when Gov. Jon Corzine is rallying them for his reelection efforts.
But DeGise certainly can not be blamed for making Zimmer late or the cast of other problems that have since emerged. Zimmer rushed in late, jotted down her name on the cover page of her filing petitions, and then saw the roof fall in as contenders for her seat cried foul.
Former Hoboken Municipal Court Judge Kimberly Glatt, who is among those seeking to become mayor, has challenged Zimmer’s petitions on several levels.
Glatt is claiming that Zimmer not only filed after the deadline, but signed a document which was notarized ahead of time by a city employee who did not actually witness the signing, thus making the document invalid.
This is in dispute because some believe – including staff at the county clerk’s office – that the document Zimmer signed did not require a notary; only the other pages did.
People supporting Beth Mason’s candidacy claim Zimmer’s petitions were in a shambles, submitted out of order and such – although hardly stuff enough to disqualify Zimmer.
More serious, however, are claims by some Mason supporters that their names mysteriously appeared on Zimmer petitions when they signed blank petitions earlier they thought were for Mason.
Also in legal contention is the question about the residency of one of the petition gatherers. Apparently Glatt’s people are seeking to determine whether or not a key collector of signatures resides in Jersey City or Ohio, and whether or not those signatures he collected should be discounted.
Meanwhile, supporters of Frank Raia – who is also running for mayor – are trying desperately to dispel rumors that he entered the race as part of a deal to help get Zimmer elected. The theories vary as to what Raia gets out of the deal, except that his role would be to drain voters away from Mason in order to let Zimmer win.
Supporters say Raia is in this race to win, and that he has made no deal.
Regardless of the validity of this plot, the scheme may have gone for naught with Glatt’s entering the race. Some key Cammarano supporters had urged Glatt to run last year instead of Cammarano. Now, she has the potential to bring out the Cammarano vote once more, thwarting Zimmer’s prospects of being elected mayor.
Zimmer supporters on the Hoboken City Council once more refused to hold a vote to officially make Zimmer mayor, claiming that the 30-period for doing so passed. Under state law, the council has 30 days to decide on an interim mayor. If they do not agree, the council president – in this case Zimmer – retains the role of acting mayor until a special election. By refusing to elect Zimmer officially, the council allows Zimmer to retain her seat on the council while also serving as mayor, and to retain her seat if she loses her election.
But oddly enough, in a case brought several years ago in another municipality, Judge Maurice Gallipoli – who is also hearing the Zimmer petition case on Sept. 28 – said the 30-day stipulation is flexible, and in some cases, the council can vote at any time to appoint an interim mayor.
Around the county
After the long struggle to unseat Mayor Dennis Elwell in Secaucus, supporters of Councilman Mike Gonnelli have to feel a little let down that federal charges against Elwell did what they could not do.
Although most think they could have beaten Elwell in the upcoming election, Gonnelli is now running unopposed. The real fight will be over council seats and whether or not Gonnelli will have a voting majority when he takes office.
Bayonne is also gearing up for a special election to fill the unexpired term of Anthony Chiappone, who resigned from the City Council last May. Six candidates are vying for the privilege to serve on the council until next June.
In North Hudson, a new Democratic civil war appears to be brewing as key officials take sides in the move to recall West New York Mayor Sal Vega.
State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack appears to be leaning towards supporting the anti-Vega movement, and if he does, he will join Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Rep. Albio Sires. Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, however, seems to be holding firm in his support for Vega, and this may also mean that DeGise and Sacco will stand by him, too.