Mayor David Roberts and his Hoboken United ticket had two victorious candidates, Richard Del Boccio (2nd Ward) and A. Nino Giacchi (6th). But former Mayor Anthony Russo, a strong and controversial figure who has been at odds with Roberts, beat Hoboken United candidate and incumbent Roseanne Andreula in the 3rd Ward. Also, Russo's cousin, longtime 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, was re-elected.
This means that Roberts has a 5-4 majority on the council, with council members Tony Soares and Carol Marsh often critical of him. The two fielded a ticket of unsuccessful candidates in the election.
Thankful for votes
The victorious Del Boccio thanked his constituents for voting him in Tuesday.
"You never know exactly how things are going to turn out, but I went [into this runoff] with a lot of confidence," he said from the Hoboken United headquarters. "There are still many things that I want to accomplish as a councilman. I look forward to building a fine new hotel on the Southern Waterfront, to add to our park space with the creation of Pier C Park, to cleaning up and beautifying the north entrance of our city, and we must do all of this without raising taxes."
Winning a third term as independent in the 1st Ward was incumbent Theresa Castellano, who defeated Ron Rosenberg of the upstart Hoboken Alliance ticket. "I'm very happy to be given the opportunity to serve four more years," said Castellano. She added that she will relish her independent status because she will not be beholden to anyone and can focus on issues that are important to her and her constituents, like parking and open space.
Giacchi and Del Boccio, who were both backed by the mayor, defeated Hoboken Alliance members Daniel deCavaignac (6th) and Elizabeth Mason (3rd) respectively. Representatives of Hoboken Alliance said Thursday that despite losing, they made strides this election season. They said that making it into four runoffs can be considered successful for an organization that was just established in December of last year.
They also had to contend with Roberts' fundraising and campaign spending machine, which paid for mailers throughout the city. In the past four months, political organizations supporting Roberts have spent over $300,000 combined on the April Board of Education election and May council races, according to state-required campaign financing reports. In comparison, independent candidate Russo has reported only spending around $30,000, and the entire Hoboken Alliance six-person ticket has only spent around $60,000, most of which came out of their own candidates' pockets.
Hoboken Alliance's most visible figureheads are council members Carol Marsh, who is the group's chairwoman but was not up for re-election this year, and At-Large Councilman Tony Soares, who recently ran unsuccessfully to switch to a 4th Ward seat. They complain that Roberts has made many promises to reform government but has not acted on them.
Extending the olive branch
In an interview Wednesday, Roberts said now that the political season has come to a close, it is time for officials to start working together.
"I congratulate all of the members that were elected Tuesday," said Roberts. "Now I want to extend my hand of cooperation to everyone. We have a lot of work to do, and it's time to put Hoboken's agenda first."
Roberts added, "I want to see our elected officials working together on behalf of the residents of Hoboken and see exactly how much we can accomplish in the next two years."
After two years away from the political spotlight, Russo will be an active voice on the council. He was a multiple-term councilman before becoming mayor in 1993. "We took on the political machine with all of their money and resources, and we came out on top," said a smiling Russo Tuesday night from the Russo Civic Association. "They came after us with all the lies, exaggerations, dirty tactics that they could come up with, but it wasn't enough to close the gap."
Russo said he is willing to put the issues first and politics aside. He added that it is unlikely that he will form a political alliance with Soares and Marsh. While both are opposition voices, the ideology of the two groups is likely too different for a lasting political bond to be formed.
"I'm not sure there are going be any lasting alliances," Russo said. "Where I'm at right now, I just don't think that is going to happen."
Russo added that his number one priority is a careful analysis of the city's almost $65 million budget, which is $10 million more than his last budget in 2001.
"A $65 million budget is unheard of for a city that is Hoboken's size," he said. "I wouldn't be so emotional about it if the services were spectacular, but I have seen the quality of services go down, not up."
As for the Hoboken Alliance, its members are keeping their heads up and looking to the future.
"Obviously we are disappointed that we didn't win," said 2nd Ward candidate Mason, "but we feel we did quite well to get into three runoffs."
She added that the organization now has the infrastructure in place to be a real player on Hoboken's political stage. "We have no intentions of going away," she said. "We are looking forward to holding the administration responsible for the promises that they have made."
The final vote counts of Tuesday's runoff are:
Castellano (Hoboken United) 572 votes
Rosenberg (Hoboken Alliance) 366
Del Boccio (Hoboken United) 778
Mason (Hoboken Alliance) 424
Russo (independent) 815
Andreula (Hoboken United) 668
Giacchi (Hoboken United) 535
deCavaignac (Hoboken Alliance) 385