Who’s running for mayor in 2013?
Question of extending Zimmer’s term may be on November ballot
by Stephen LaMarca
Reporter Staff Writer
Aug 05, 2012 | 8253 views | 9 9 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruben Ramos, Theresa Castellano, Dawn Zimmer, Beth Mason
view slideshow (4 images)

Hoboken is about to enter nine months of heated local elections. As candidates for November’s Board of Education race begin to prepare, members of the Hoboken political realm are also discussing who the most viable candidates will be for mayor and council-at-large in May of 2013. And one resident is circulating petitions to change the voting date of next year’s race, which would give Mayor Dawn Zimmer another half year in office.

As it stands now, this coming May, Zimmer will run for another four-year term, as will three council-at-large members. The other six council members, who represent individual wards, will be up for election in 2015.

Sources say that Hoboken’s political players have been meeting recently to weigh their options for a candidate to run against Zimmer.

Possible candidates include Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, County Freeholder Anthony Romano, 4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti, and local developer and former Councilman Frank “Pupie” Raia.
“It’s not just any old mayorship; the mayor of Hoboken is the crown jewel of the state.” – Ramos’ Chief of Staff Alex Habib
The potential candidates to oppose Zimmer have been meeting regularly with Hoboken Democratic Committee Chairman Jamie Cryan and Councilwoman Beth Mason in attempts to narrow down the field into one choice to run against Zimmer, sources said.

As of now, the only potential candidate with a registered committee is Zimmer. The “Friends of Dawn Zimmer Hoboken Mayor” committee had raised over $30,000 as of July.

Petitions to change date

Two petitions are currently circulating that would result in an extended term for Zimmer and the three council-at-large members, who were all elected on her ticket in 2009.

The petitions would eliminate runoff elections and to move mayoral elections from May to November. That means that the race would be run in November of 2013, the same time as that of Gov. Chris Christie.

The petitions have heated up the discussion among potential candidates and power players.

Zimmer couldn’t be reached for comment because she was away last week, but many possible candidates weighed in on their expectations for the next election.

The deadline for submitting a petition nominating a candidate is March 5. The election will be May 8 as of now, with a runoff if no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote (this could change if the petitioners have their way).

Castellano said she is hopeful that her allies will announce a candidate by Labor Day.

Extending Zimmer’s term

Resident Vijay Chaudhuri is currently gathering signatures for two petitions that seek to move the election to November and eliminate runoff elections.

He said that as long as he can gather enough signatures in time, he can get the measure on the ballot for this November, in time for people to vote on it when they vote on the president.

Chaudhuri says he expects to have “well over the amount” of signatures needed for both petitions.

Chaudhuri said that moving the election and eliminating a runoff helps increase voter participation and saves money by consolidating elections.

“[Currently], an election seems to take place every month,” said Chaudhuri. “We’re looking to make it easier for folks and people have been very receptive to what we’re saying.”

Chaudhuri is a member of the Democratic Committee and said he works to give residents a voice to the mayor and City Council. Chaudhuri, however, stressed that these petitions are a “bipartisan” issue.

“I would distinguish this [effort] from my [my role in] other elections,” continued Chaudhuri, later adding, “this is a win-win situation.”

“In these economic times, any way to save Hoboken taxpayers money is a good thing,” added Chaudhuri.

Members of the council minority faction who oppose Zimmer expressed their disapproval with the petitions. Both Mason and Castellano said that they also disapproved of the Board of Education elections recently being moved to November.

“You were elected to a four-year term,” said Castellano. “If you want to run again, run again. Don’t try to expand your [current] term.”

Mason said she had supported an instant runoff in the past, which allows voters to rank candidates and requires a candidate to earn the majority to win. Mason clarified that she would not approve the runoff elimination measure proposed by Chaudhuri’s petition, which would allow a candidate to win with less than 50 percent of the vote.

“If you can win with less than 50 percent of the vote, that means there’s a potential to divide the city further,” said Mason, who has run against Zimmer for mayor before. “I don’t believe our democratic process should be totally a money issue. If it was all [about] money, you’d have dictators.”

Hoboken council members considered

Regarding running next May, Castellano said if the she would be “honored” to be selected among those currently be considered.

“I’m a very strong contender,” said Castellano. “We’re narrowing the field down [to] one candidate. I am in the running, and I would be honored to represent [us].”

Castellano said that Occhipinti would also like to be considered, but Occhipinti did not return a request for comment.

“We have a few more meetings to go, so hopefully by Labor Day we can announce [our candidate],” said Castellano. “We’re working toward that goal very diligently.”

Mason said that she has been rumored to run for a variety of positions, including assembly, mayor, and even governor.

“Every possible position has been said,” she said with a laugh. Mason added that she is currently focused on 2nd Ward issues and her civic league, and wouldn’t confirm whether she wants to run for mayor.

“Who knows what’s going to happen,” said Mason. “In making this call [to narrow down the candidates], we have no clue.”

Ramos for mayor?

Ramos’ Chief of Staff Alex Habib said that “all options are on the table” for him.

“He hasn’t ruled it out,” said Habib. “He definitely has the best record of accomplishment, and he’s the highest office holder in the city…He sounds like an obvious choice.”

Ramos joined the Hoboken City Council at age 25 in 1999, before eventually moving on to become assemblyman.

Ramos was unavailable for comment, but Habib said that he is “humbled” that people are throwing his name out there.

“There’s a lot of buzz about him potentially doing this,” said Habib. “Not just in Hoboken, but observers from outside of the state. It’s not just any old mayorship; the mayor of Hoboken is the crown jewel of the state.”


“Raia, who recently threw his large annual party along the waterfront, sent a statement through a spokesperson saying that like Ramos, he is keeping his options open.”

“I have not made a formal announcement as to my participation in next year’s mayoral contest yet,” said Raia in the statement. “However, I am keeping all of my options open, and have not ruled out any course of action.”

Raia said that he is currently focused on watching the school board elections unfold. He is not a candidate in that race, but will likely support a ticket.

Stephen LaMarca may be reached at slamarca@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 17, 2012
On line press reports are saying that petitions with 1800 signatures were delivered to the City Clerks office.

It is my understanding that less than 700 signatures are needed to put these questions on the ballot in November.
August 07, 2012
Skyclub - can you explain your rationale for believing that a November election will increase patronage and the influence of "outside power brokers?"

Given Hoboken's history of both patronage and corruption with elections in May the idea that November would be even worse seems pretty frightening if true.

Since Anthony Russo and Peter Cammarano went to jail for taking bribes and Dave Roberts raised and spent a million dollars from outside power brokers, developers and vendors it's hard to imagine how it could be made worse but maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand.

Please explain your thinking for those of us too slow to follow.

While your at it, please explain why the people who owe their allegiance to outside power brokers and who live off patronage like Russo, Occhipinti, Cryan etc., all seem to all oppose moving the elections to November. Maybe they're not understanding your rationale either.

August 10, 2012
Skyclub had a typo. He was concerned with there being "less" rather than "more" outside influence.

The fact is, the outside influence likes to know where its money is going. The greater the turnout, the more likely the $$$ will not make a dent in the final outcome.

All you have to do is compare machine candidate ELECs to reform. It's a joke. Skyclub knows it.

Simple litmus test: whatever scares these guys is probably good for Hoboken. Nothing scares them more than a large turnout.
August 07, 2012
Getting more people to vote on important issues is not assinine it is good government.

If increasing the terms of Castelano, Mason, Russo and Occhipinti for six months is a price Hoboken will have to pay, it is still worth it.

We all remember the massive corruption of the past Russo, Roberts and Cammerano Administrations.

August 06, 2012
Moving the election to November is pure asinine and exactly what a patronage mill of an administration would love! I don't care who has power, it's a terrible idea to allow outside power brokers influence the our city more than they already do. Any small savings will be lost in the patronage given to favored lawyers and engineering firms.

August 05, 2012
If this is the best they can do, the mayor is a shoe in.

August 05, 2012
If you haven't signed the petition to move the City elections to November already, please do.

Greater voter participation is always a good thing to support in a democracy and saving the $140,000.00 by having less smaller elections that can be used to make Hoboken better is an added benefit.
August 05, 2012
Hoboken's Culture of Corruption Old Guard politicos are busy tring to figure out who among them has the least negatives and objectionable to rally behind.

Make no mistake they will spend huge amounts of money and stoop to new lows to try to get what the want.

Remember their history when they try spin their web of lies.

August 07, 2012
The opposition with spokesperson Jaime Cryan last year said "let the people decide". They did not want the elections to be moved to November by the City Council even though it was legal to do so. Now they get their wish.

The people will decide if this gets on the ballot. The terms have to be extended for both the Mayor and the City Council as per NJ law and it is a one time thing.

The editorial slant of this website/paper once again is revealed by also pointing out that Mike "I was willing to take money from Dwek" Russo and Terry "It's all cleared up" Castellano are also extended. As much as I don't like extending their terms past one day if moving Elections to November means more voter turn out, why wouldn't any person in favor of democracy support it?

In 2009 runoff, Peter Cammarano's ELEC showed an abundance of outside influence. This outside influence argument against November elections is very weak.