A strategic retreat
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Sep 18, 2011 | 2474 views | 2 2 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Depending on whom you believe, Mayor Dawn Zimmer may have to wait until after her next election to change Hoboken’s Election Day from May to November.

Now that the City Council has rescinded the ordinance that would have given them seven extra months in office, and would have allowed Zimmer to run for reelection on the same ballot as Gov. Christopher Christie in 2013, the move will likely have to wait three years.

This is something of a strategic retreat for the Zimmer Administration, the most recent in a series of moves and counter moves that have made Hoboken a study in political conflict.

Coming out of the ward elections last May after winning the two seats needed to regain control of the council, the Zimmer team also saw dismal numbers citywide, suggesting that they could have a tough time winning city-wide elections in 2013 when the mayoral and at-large seats are up again.

Using their slim majority, Zimmer’s council allies passed an ordinance changing the election from May to November in 2013, not only giving themselves increased time in office, but also the benefit of possible financial support from their ally Christie – who might share campaign advertising costs, and give them a boost in votes as they ride his coat tails into their own reelections.

A coalition of anti-Zimmer politicos struck back, forcing the issue onto this November’s ballot as a referendum. With more than 3,700 signatures on the petition for the referendum, they had a good shot of defeating the change in election date, not just for three years, but for 10 years if the measure lost.

The Zimmer council members decided to rescind the ordinance and leave the municipal elections in May, while seeking other legal opinions. While the city clerk believes that the measure cannot be reintroduced for three years, there may be a loophole that would allow the council to reintroduce it next year so that the referendum appears on the 2012 ballot when the president of the United States will be decided. If so, many more people will come to the polls, and it is possible that the Zimmer team can get enough votes to pass the change in time for them to run the following year with Christie, as originally planned.

Sires seat safe – for now

The threat to run someone against Rep. Albio Sires in two years appears to be fading, after the Democratic leadership read Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner the riot act.

“They may have gone in there angry,” said one political insider, “but they came to an agreement when they were done.”

This would include no more letters from West New York praising Republican Gov. Christie and other breaks with the Democratic leadership. In exchange, Turner will get a loan from the county to help him purchase the United Water reservoir.

Reports of new alliance between state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack and the always formidable Hoboken 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo appear to be somewhat exaggerated.

“Stack is merely putting out feelers,” one source said. “He also contacted [Councilwoman] Beth Mason.”

Stack is apparently feeling a little uncomfortable with his old friends in the Democratic Party, and is seeking a new set of friends he can rely on. The question is: can they rely on him?

Sources say that the Union City Board of Education plans to give a job to Russo’s mother, Michele, who has been putting out her resume for a number of government jobs.

The real question is just how long can Stack and Russo remain friends, even when they have Mayor Zimmer as a common enemy? One political person said, “They’ll remain friends until Michael doesn’t do what Stack wants him to do.”

A slight mistake in the Jersey City elections

Candidates in the special election for two at-large council seats in Jersey City got a shock when they learned that the county clerk had mistakenly put up the wrong date for filing on the county website. Instead of having until Sept. 13 to file their qualifying petition signatures, they found out early in September that they only had until Sept. 6, a mistake that has since been corrected.

This was more than just a little embarrassing, since those candidates supported by Mayor Jerramiah Healy got their signatures in prior to Sept. 6, leaving the anti-Healy candidates and other independents to scramble to get theirs in on time. With 13 candidates running, the Healy-backed candidates stand the most to gain if some of their opponents were eliminated.

Smith’s not leaving, but potential candidates gear up anyway

Although Mark Smith has said more than once that he will not leave his seat as mayor of Bayonne in October, political opponents are getting ready anyway.

The strongest of these is former 3rd Ward Councilman Gary LaPelusa, who apparently is ready for a grudge match against Ray Greaves, the current 3rd Ward councilman. Greaves beat La Pelusa in a surprising upset runoff election in June 2010, and is seen as the most likely replacement for Smith if the mayor should leave before his term of office is over. But to reiterate, Smith said he’s not leaving.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
September 18, 2011
Rtrux, you're wasting your breath on Al. He never even mentions the core issue which is higher turnout. We freely admit that things did not go well enough in May. November elections give us a shot at a better natural turnout. Could he at least MENTION that? No. Instead he serves up the spin exactly as received. I don't know why he bothers to write the column at all. He could just let the old guard write it for him and cut out the middle man. At least that would be honest.
September 18, 2011
al, regarding the petition to move the hoboken election, you "forgot" to mention that petitioners were telling busy people (residents and non-residents) it was a petition again the rise in PATH fares, hoping they'd be in too much of a rush to actually read it before signing. how many fraudulent signatures do you think they got? shouldn't you have at least mentioned this fraud, which was documented in a first-hand account in your our newspaper last week?

unless, of course, your goal was to cover up the fraud.