Three’s a crowd in Hoboken freeholder race
Feb 23, 2014 | 3595 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Perry Belfiore says he isn’t running for the Board of Freeholders to punish anyone, but to make sure that Hoboken gets its fair share of county resources. He says this has not been the case in the past, and that Hoboken has become a kind of piggybank for other municipalities, in particular for Jersey City’s Gold Coast.

He claims abated properties that have been built on the Jersey City waterfront – properties that do not pay county taxes – force unabated places like Hoboken to pay more of the county budget. He says he wants it to stop, and believes it won’t stop if either one of his two prospective opponents, incumbent Freeholder Anthony Romano or Hoboken resident Phil Cohen, get elected.

He says that while he likes Romano – and helped Romano get elected in the past – nothing has fundamentally changed for Hoboken.

Sometimes you have to rock the boat a little, which is what Belfiore says he will do if elected. A tall order, since Hoboken doesn’t have its own freeholder any more, with most of the district in Jersey City.

Belfiore says although Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is letting Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer select the candidate. That may not bode well for Hoboken since Cohen is not expected to rock the boat.

Each freeholder usually brings something back to the community he or she represents.

“North Bergen has the Schools of Technology that provides the town with patronage jobs, and helps keep down local taxes,” Belfiore says. “Some towns have county parks.”

Belfiore says he would propose a study of what the county government does and what services might be better done locally.

“Do we really need county roads?” he says. “Would it be more cost effective for local municipalities to maintain them rather than pay the county to do it?”

He says the county has a role in maintaining courts, the county college, and other services that are clearly beyond the scope of towns to do.

But he says Hoboken doesn’t get back in services what it pays county taxes for, and part of the problem is that Jersey City controls too many votes and issues too many abatements that exclude development in Jersey City from paying county taxes.

He says Hoboken needs someone who will look out for Hoboken’s interests, something he does not see happening if Cohen is elected.

Freeholder war heats up

Fights over freeholder seats appear to be spreading into North Bergen, where a candidate backed by the leadership of Concerned Citizens of North Bergen will apparently attempt to take advantage of a power shift in the camp of Mayor Nicholas Sacco. The Concerned Citizens have been very critical of Sacco.

The election has the potential of heating up the recently cooled feud between Sacco and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who is seen as the force behind the Concerned Citizens group.

Long time North Bergen Freeholder Thomas Liggio will not be seeking reelection. Sacco is reportedly backing Anthony Vainieri for the spot.

This should have been an easy transition. Now it is one more unsettled issue in a year when a number of freeholder seats are up for grabs.

WNY Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez, who has the support of Sacco, HCDO Chairman Vincent Prieto, Rep. Albio Sires, WNY Mayor Felix Roque, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and other North Hudson bigwigs, announced that she will oppose Freeholder Jose Munoz in the June Democratic primary.

Jersey City Freeholder Jeff Dublin will likely get opposition from a Fulop-supported candidate, partly as payback for supporting Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy in the last municipal election against Fulop, but also because Fulop appears to be tightening control over the freeholder board by assembling friendly votes.

Even Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico appears to be at risk of a challenge.

Smith and Zanowic tickets announced

DiDomenico, Dublin, and Romano showed up for Mayor Mark Smith’s unveiling of his Bayonne municipal ticket last week, suggesting that political opponents of Fulop may be seeking to support each other in some way – although Freeholder Bill O’Dea, well-known for his support of Fulop, also attended.

Estimates of how many attended the Smith event vary widely, with political opponents downplaying the turn out – which by all accounts was large.

Speculation that some current City Council members would not run this year turned out to be inaccurate. Smith is running with the same ticket he ran in 2010: Agnes Gillespie in the 1st Ward, Joe Hurley in the 2nd, Ray Greaves in the 3rd, with Terrence Ruane and Debra Czerwienski running at-large.

Last week, this column reported that Anthony Zanowic campaign was short two candidates. This was not true. It was the campaign of James Davis that was scrambling to fill its ticket. Infighting in the Davis camp over direction could spell its doom if they don’t get on the same page. The Davis camp hasn’t yet opened its campaign headquarters although this is imminent along with his soon-to-be-announced ticket.

Zanowic, meanwhile, has filled in the missing piece and announced that John Sebik and Leonard Kantor will run for at-large seats. Washington Flores will run in the 3rd Ward, Chelsea Jeskie in the 2nd, and Daniel Herrera in the 1st.

Secaucus and WNY face issues in school board elections

It’s school election time again as hopeful candidates pick up their paperwork from various school board offices.

Looming over the Secaucus school board election is a possible lawsuit over promised funds from a canceled Super Bowl event. Local officials claim a broker for the NFL owes the school district about $20,000 to fund an event the NFL canceled. Secaucus officials say they have a contract, but it is unclear as to whether the district intends to sue or send a strongly-worded letter of protest.

Questions also remain over the proposed construction of a new middle school in Secaucus, approved by the voters last fall, plans for which were changed to an extension to the existing high school.

Meanwhile, West New York is struggling to determine whether or not the deadline has passed to move its scheduled April election to November.

Voters approved a referendum last November to shift from a board appointed by the mayor to an elected board. The first of two elections took place in January and expanded the board from seven to nine members, and the city was scheduled to hold a second election for three existing seats in April. The board, evenly split between pro-and-anti administration members, could not come to a consensus to change the next election from April to November. The matter was supposed to go to the Board of Commissioners, which is expected to vote to make the move.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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Patrick Cullen
February 23, 2014
Mr. Belfiore,

I hope you win. You are absolutely correct to make the tax abatement issue front and center. See "A Programmatic Examination of Municipal Tax Abatements" by NJ Comptroller Boxer. Aug 2010. Alsi see "All That Glitters Isn't Gold." Currently WNY Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez, the former secretary of then Mayor Sires, who is the North Hudson Tax Abatement King, is running against incumbant Freeholder Chairmen Jose Munoz, whose computer was hacked by Mayor Roque's son Joseph. Could you guys run on a ticket?