HOBOKEN - The sparring between 4th Ward election candidates Michael Lenz and Tim Occhipinti continued in uptown Hoboken this morning at the Hudson Reporter offices. Video of the complete debate will be available online by the middle next week at www.hudsonreporter.com.
The candidates debated the budget surplus, development in the 4th Ward, clean campaigns, and flooding, among other issues.
Once again, both candidates said the 4th Ward is the “forgotten ward.” Occhipinti pointed to a lack of services, roads that are not paved, a lack of open space, and said, from his experience, that residents of the ward don’t feel like they are a part of the city. Lenz stressed the importance of parks and open space throughout Hoboken, but especially in the 4th Ward.
Occhipinti criticized Lenz for not being a good listener, saying that was a frequent criticism of the councilman. Lenz responded that he cannot get from his house to the car without talking to people about issues in the ward.
Lenz attempted to paint Occhipinti as a pawn in the election, repeatedly referencing the supporters of Occhipinti and their goals. Occhipinti seemed prepared for this, and began his opening statement by stating his name is Tim Occhipinti, “not Peter Cammarano.” Occhipinti also said he is an “independent voice.”
Lenz said a $10 million surplus is the appropriate amount for the city of Hoboken because it would improve the city’s bond rating and would serve as a savings account. Occhipinti said the purpose of government is to spend only what it needs, and that the surplus does not belong to City Hall, it belongs to the people of Hoboken.
Lenz touted his experience in government as a positive in this campaign, and said “it’s hard running against someone without a record.” However, Occhipinti tried to use his private sector job as a positive in the argument, and called Lenz a “political insider.”
In their closing remarks, Occhipinti said that when voters think of a hardship such as leaving the ward to visit a park, or when the roads flood, that they should think of Michael Lenz. Lenz said progress is being made under Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration, but it is a slow process. Lenz said things will get better when he is elected. Occhipinti, naturally, disagreed.
Election day is Nov. 2. View the complete debate next week on www.hudsonreporter.com. - Ray Smith