While local residents pull the lever on Tuesday for New Jersey governor and two assembly people, Hobokenites also get to choose a mayor for the next four years.
In July, new Mayor Peter Cammarano resigned after being arrested for corruption as part of an FBI sting. City Council President Dawn Zimmer replaced him temporarily, and is hoping Tuesday to win a full four-year term as mayor.
Facing her are 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason, former Municipal Judge Kimberly Glatt, local businessman and former Board of Education President Frank Raia, Republican Nathan Brinkman, Stevens Institute of Technology graduate Everton Wilson, and former corrections officer Patricia Waiters.
Polls are open around Hoboken on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Democratic Assemblypeople Ruben Ramos Jr. of Hoboken and Caridad Rodriguez of West New York are running for re-election to their two 33rd District Assembly seats. They are challenged by Republicans Beth Hamburger and John Barbadillo.
There is also a public question on the ballot asking if New Jersey should set aside money to preserve open space (see story in last weekend’s edition).
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check out www.hudsonreporter.com Tuesday night for the results.
No runoff in mayor’s race
Zimmer and Mason are seen as the frontrunners in the mayor’s race. Two years ago, they were aligned as “reformers” challenging the locally-entrenched politicians, but spats between their supporters of the two forced them to go their separate ways. The two also faced off in the first mayoral election last spring, with Mason coming in third behind Cammarano and Zimmer.
Glatt and Raia, two born-and-raised Hobokenites, are hoping to sneak past the two councilwomen. Since there is no runoff in the special election, the winner could potentially persuade less than a quarter of the voters and still come out victorious.
It is also possible that the city will see its first woman elected mayor on Tuesday.
Last week, some minor scandals spouted up that got local tongues wagging.
Budget and tax claims
Zimmer’s opponents have found a few issues to try to criticize her for. They complained that when she ran for mayor in the spring, she promised to present a rough draft of the city budget by Aug. 10. She didn’t win the election outright, but since she was sworn in after Cammarano’s resignation almost three months ago, the critics believe she should have presented a budget by now.
News of budget transparency, the hospital deficit, and a home foreclosure were dragged into the political arena last week.
However, Zimmer is not actually sitting in on union negotiations; Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi is representing the city, along with labor counsel.
When the Reporter called Tripodi to find out if release of the budget would, in fact, compromise negotiations, Tripodi said that Zimmer could indeed release a proposed budget without any problems.
Tripodi has been trying to maintain a low profile during the election and refuses to appear during City Council meetings.
Zimmer, when contacted for a reply, was not pleased with Tripodi’s comments. After the news broke on www.HudsonReporter.com, Zimmer called the newspaper claiming Tripodi was misrepresented. Tripodi later said she thought the discussion about releasing the budget was in regards to its future release, once it is introduced. Tripodi said it would take another four weeks to prepare the budget for introduction, the process by which the mayor presents the spending document to the City Council for amendment and public hearing.
Tripodi also said she has informed the City Council about the budget, and that any member claiming they do not have information is lying.
Meanwhile, several of Zimmer’s opponents have charged that Zimmer may be hiding the budget because it could contain a tax increase. Mason said as much in mailings to residents on Thursday.
Tripodi said that taxes will actually be lower than last year in the new budget.
Meanwhile, the issue union negotiations became much clearer last week. After Tripodi’s initial comments, Zimmer aired some differences that have arisen between Tripodi and her about the city’s union offers.
Zimmer said she wants the municipal employees to feel the same economic crunch that residents are feeling, while Tripodi wants to offer some sort of pay raise to the unions.
Candidate Kimberly Glatt, a former municipal court judge in Hoboken, fielded questions last week about foreclosure proceedings on a Hoboken home formerly owner by her mother, then by Glatt, her sister, and her husband, attorney Jay Yacker.
According to documents obtained by the Reporter, legal hearings have begun against Glatt and Glatt’s sister Stephanie related to foreclosure proceedings on a $999,900 loan from HSBC Bank for a house at 910 Castle Point Terrace.
Glatt and her husband, attorney Jay Yacker, recently moved into a pricey condo in Hoboken’s W Hotel on the south waterfront. So the proceedings beg some questions, like why is the house being foreclosed on if Glatt and her husband can afford a much more expensive condo in the W?
Kathy Stack, Glatt’s campaign manager, said Wednesday that the house is not Glatt’s, but her mother’s. Stack said, “She was helping her parents. This is a remodification of a loan with the bank. What happened is what has happened to 900,000 families across the country. She was helping her mother with a remodification of the loan.”
But Glatt’s mother's name is not on the house. When asked for further explanation, Glatt's husband, Jay Yacker, said the house was sold over a year ago by Glatt’s parents to her sister Stephanie. The parents and Stephanie continued to live in the house, he said. But after Hoboken’s large tax increase, they were unable to make the payments for a few months, and the bank automatically began foreclosure proceedings because they were behind.
Yacker said that once the bank starts foreclosure proceedings, they won’t accept retroactive payments until the situation is worked out legally.
Yacker said that they are “a month or two away” from working the situation out, and that the house will be saved.
However, Glatt and Stack did not return followup calls later in the week to find out why Kimberly Glatt or other family members were not able to pay the loan for the few months after the tax increase, since the W Hotel purchase shows that they have substantial funds.
On Wednesday, Glatt released a statement calling the story a “smear” tactic and backhandedly accused either Mason or Zimmer, the only two council persons running for office, of releasing the information.
“[Voters] can know with absolute certainty that I can relate to their problems. When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, they should ask themselves whether the current councilmember behind this smear can do the same,” her statement read.
Don’t touch that ballot!
Raia’s camp came under fire on Friday after a complaint from the Mason camp hit the Hudson County Board of Elections.
According to Michael Harper, clerk for the Hudson County Board of Elections, he received a complaint from Mason campaign attorney Jack Carbone alleging Raia handled at least two absentee ballots that were submitted to the board.
Harper said it is illegal for any candidate to handle the ballots directly, but he also said that the two ballots in question were signed in by a campaign representative, not Raia himself.
Marie Borace, superintendent of elections, will conduct an investigation over the weekend, Harper said, and release the details Monday.
Raia said on Friday, “They’re obviously lying. I didn’t handle anything, so he’s out of his mind, tell him.”
Hospital as fodder
Also last week, Glatt and Mason claimed Zimmer knew Hoboken University Medical Center was experiencing more financial difficulty than it was reporting, because the hospital had sent the state a letter in August seeking more funding.
Zimmer said last week that the letter’s financial data was linked to an audit that was not released until mid-October. She said releasing the letter without the audit would have been irresponsible. Once the audit became final, she did post the findings on the city website.
Glatt claims the timing of Zimmer’s release was curious. Glatt had submitted an Open Public Records Act request for the hospital’s letter, and the request was granted the day before Zimmer released the information on the city website.
Glatt would not say how she got word of the letter, only that someone told her about its existence.
Glatt’s campaign manager is Kathy Stack, the separated wife of Brian Stack, who still is in communication with her estranged husband. Stack backed the letter to the state.
Mason has been warning of the hospital’s potential for financial ruin for some time and now wants to know what Zimmer did about the situation once she found out the severity from the letter.
Zimmer said she has been doing everything in her power short of committing the city to any further funding for the hospital.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.