Many Hobokenites still undecided about mayoral race
As six candidates clash, voters speak out
by Marilyn Baer
Reporter Staff Writer
Oct 08, 2017 | 4279 views | 21 21 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Even though residents are getting flooded with campaign literature, many are still doing research to make up their minds.
Even though residents are getting flooded with campaign literature, many are still doing research to make up their minds.
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Despite the recent bevy of mailers and candidates knocking on doors, many Hoboken residents said last week that they are still deciding whom to support in the Nov. 7 election for mayor and three council seats. Six people are running for mayor and 14 are vying for council.

The Reporter’s recent article contrasting the six mayoral candidates’ experience, positives, and negatives can be read by heading to http://tinyurl.com/hobokenmayoral. If you have thoughts, questions, or letters, email editorial@hudsonreporter.com.

The Reporter will host what should be a lively mayoral debate this week in its offices. Video will be posted on the internet soon after.

How the mayor’s race breaks down

Incumbent council member Ravi Bhalla, who was endorsed by Mayor Dawn Zimmer, is facing two other council people -- Michael DeFusco and Jen Giattino, both of whom have been allied with Zimmer in the past – as well as current County Freeholder and former Police Captain Anthony Romano. The four officials also face local activist Ronald Bautista and business owner Karen Nason.

Zimmer held a surprise press conference in June and endorsed Bhalla to succeed her, forcing a split among Zimmer allies, some of whom encouraged Giattino to enter the race. DeFusco had announced an intention to run several months before Zimmer dropped out, and had broken with Zimmer on a few issues while on the council.

The candidates with the most money and fundraising mettle have been spent much of it on ads, mailers, and their campaign staffs, while independent candidates like Nason have said they can’t afford to have a staff. With so many candidates splitting various voter bases, there’s no telling who will slide into the seat.

Hoboken did away with runoff elections in 2012; thus, whoever gets the most votes will automatically get the spot, even if they garner less than 25 percent of the vote.

Dim bulbs: Mailers go negative

Until last week, the candidates’ mailers have focused on their platforms rather than attacking opponents, although Bhalla has repeated taken a stand against the administration of Donald Trump in his mailers (presumably to also draw attention to opposing candidates who are registered Republicans.)

Usually, the most negative (and sometimes misleading) mailers appear in the final days before the election so they can’t be fact-checked by the press, sometimes slipped under residents’ doors as “midnight fliers” intended to convince tenants that they will lose their apartments if this or that person is elected.

While there were no such misleading fliers last week, some candidates did start to go negative in their mailers last week. DeFusco’s glossy one-page mailer listed specific problems with Bhalla, Romano, and Giattino. Meanwhile, Giattino’s camp sent out a folded mailer full of negative photos of situations in Hoboken, with the cover of the mailer in black and white showing uptown streetlights that appear to be out of commission. “Are nearly half the streetlights on your block dark, too?” it asked. “Hoboken deserves a mayor who can…keep the lights on, the streets pothole free and City Hall responsive to our neighborhood needs!” However, Giattino has almost never publicly spoken out against Mayor Zimmer during her six years on the council, until recently. When asked about this three weeks ago by the Reporter, Giattino said she handled differences behind the scenes during those six years.

Last week, many residents of this somewhat transient town – when interviewed on the street -- said they haven’t had a chance to do enough research on the candidates to decide, but they intend to do so in the remaining weeks.

Residents sound off

Those who want to vote on Nov. 7 must register to do so by Oct. 17, according to the Hoboken City Clerk’s office. The office will have late night registration on Oct. 13, Oct. 16, and Oct. 17 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The office is located in City Hall at 94 Washington St.

Eric Kramer, who moved her only a month ago, said last week, “I’ve been blasted by the candidates leaving stuff under my door. I honestly don’t even look at it and just throw them away. I guess some of them sneak into my building.”

He said he needs to do more research to decide who he’ll support. He added that since he commutes to New York, any candidate who focuses on transportation to and from the city would be a person he’s interested in.

“I have no idea who is running,” said Doug, a resident of 10 years who declined to give his last name. “I don’t pay attention to local elections. I have better things to do with my time and I only rent here, so it’s not like it will really impact me.”

However, renters like Doug are affected by local government in many ways: property taxes and utilities can figure into local rents, and previous administrations have suggested amending rent control laws and protections. Tenants are also affected by regulations on restaurants and other businesses, car sharing, bike sharing, recreation programs, parkland, parking, and many other issues.

Rebecca Stern, a resident of almost four years, said she is interested in candidates who care about storm preparedness and cutting down on flooding, as well as improving the city’s aging water infrastructure and supporting the schools, since she has two young children. She said she doesn’t care about parking concerns because she believes Hoboken is very pedestrian friendly and she doesn’t own a car.

She said she needs to do more research, but is leaning toward Bhalla because he “seems to be the most experienced” and because his kids are in the schools. (Currently, his children attend a charter school in the city. They previously attended Brandt and Wallace elementary schools.)

Stern said that also, “He has talked a lot about infrastructure improvements and storm preparedness.”

She said she plans to speak to the candidates, as she always sees them around town. She says she wants to do more research on Giattino.

She said she isn’t a fan of the fact that Freeholder Romano is running for re-election to freeholder and for mayor at once. Romano has said in the Reporter that if elected to both spots, he’ll become the mayor.

A resident who has lived here a year said he has seen the signs for the candidates up around town but hasn’t looked into the race much.

“I probably won’t research it until the week of,” he said.

Konstantine, a Hoboken resident of 30 years, said, “My mailbox is full daily… it’s all boiler plate stuff. They all essentially say the same thing: ‘Vote for me, not the other guy.’”

He says his biggest concern is fiscal responsibility.

“The taxes in town are causing families to leave,” he said. “They can’t afford their child’s education.”

He said that as of now, he is “intrigued” by Councilman DeFusco. “He thinks this town should be more diverse in so much as not just families,” he said. “The past administration was all about families and kids.”

He added, “I am losing a lot of really great neighbors. There aren’t enough places for them to afford to live in town because one-bedrooms are disappearing... it is all three bedrooms being built.”

His comments may surprise the families who have complained publicly about a lack of three-bedrooms being built in town. And some existing three-bedrooms have been rented to groups of roommates.

Konstantine noted that DeFusco has stood up to Zimmer at times, something that the other candidates – except for Nason – have rarely if ever done in public.

“Out of the candidates running, a lot of them pandered to her,” he said. “DeFusco didn’t.”

He noted, “He announced he was running before she announced she was dropping out. That took guts. I like guts. Now the people running who supported her are finding fault with her, and that’s just hypocrisy.”

Word of mouth

Ronald Bautista and Karen Nason, both independent candidates for mayor, are relying on word of mouth and their websites to reach voters. According to their last state ELEC filings, Bautista had a closing balance of $1,272.46 on July 17 and Nason had a closing balance of $4,146.73 on Aug. 7.

As a contrast, DeFusco had a closing balance of $113,046 in donations as of July 17, and Bhalla had a closing balance of $84,380.19 as of July 18. Giattino and Romano both have yet to file their funds, and the next fundraising deadline is Oct. 10.

“I have been knocking on doors since day one,” said Nason. “I don’t even have a campaign manager. I don’t have money or funds close to the money Councilman DeFusco has. It’s not about the money from contributors in Bergen County or outside of town; it’s about the people in Hoboken. I am working my butt off and people know me and hear me. Actions speak volumes.”

Marilyn Baer can be reached at marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
(21)
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GrafixAvenger
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October 17, 2017
I see the Depukesco and Liartino LOSERS were here too. Jen is nothing more than a fucking liar and Defusco uses his gayness to appeal to the young hoboken vote. Everyone is decided and Ravi will win by 500 plus votes. Typical Hudson Reporter slanted garbage. Dave Unger is a joke as is Goofball Matzner. A real joke rag publication. laughable
Defusco - give up
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October 11, 2017
Defusco is running such a slimey campaign. People should know that Defusco hired investigators to dig into candidates AND follow them around town! How about trying to win on your laurels instead of being sneaky. How many people does Defusco pay to troll social media and media outlets. And to boot, he is too young and too inexperienced to run this city.
Not stick
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October 11, 2017
No one pays me, and I'm likely not voting for DeFusco. Maybe I will, I don't know yet. I just think Stick is a poor choice.
OldManGrumpio
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October 11, 2017
since trolls have been around hoboken long before md was ever on the council i doubt he is the only one. so who, if anyone, has been paying trolls for many many years? that is the question you should pursue first. second question is, will any people who have backed trolls for years and years do it if elected?

what do you think, will those people pay and back trolls if they become mayor?
Stick for Mayor
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October 11, 2017
Anthony Romano is the ONLY candidate who has significant history and the institutional knowledge to run this city. If he is collecting a pension, so what? Are public employees NOT allowed to collect their pension? This is absurd, and I bet all the other candidates would also take their pension.

And, why the hell would the FBI give Romano security clearance if he is done anything wrong?

Defusco' s ideas are ridiculous. A beach on the Hudson, a new rec center, a new school, etc etc. he's an amateur.
Not stick
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October 11, 2017
It's not that he is collecting a pension, it's that he's a millionaire and I'm paying his rent. I feel like an asshole paying a millionaires rent, and you should too.

Again, I am not working for any campaign. My only campaign is Stick has shit for morals.
Not stick
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October 11, 2017
What experience does Stick have running anything? According to his story he didn't have anything to do with the bar until he retired from the police. So, unless he's planning on firing all the career police and replacing them with part time young girls in hot pants, I don't see where he's got any experience to run anything.
OldManGrumpio
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October 11, 2017
just to ask, you know there are several beaches on the hudson already right? do you live in this town actually?
Support Romano
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October 11, 2017
This looks like the classic attack campaign by Defusco. His campaign is posting this nonsense. A lot of his facts on romano are such BS.

People need to do their homework.
Not stick
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October 11, 2017
Go ahead, do your homework, ask any woman who's had to spend more than three minutes alone with him if he hit on her. Ask Stick what the heck a "negron" is? Ask why Angel was allowed to walk from his coke bust? Go ahead, ask him, please, someone ask Anthony about his low morals. These are not the only stories out there, these are just the ones I know off the top of my head. I saw another where a former tenant called him out on his hitting on her and he told her, "Do you know who I am? I'm a cop!" Ask around. You don't own a bar in this town without accumulating a few stories. Ask stick if using his position as a cop was good for picking up chicks, and if he ever considered that an abuse of power? For the love of Christ, someone with a megaphone bigger than a comments section ask him about any one of these issues.

Again, I do not work for any campaign, I haven't decided who to vote for yet. Bhalla seems kinda boring, wishy washy. DeFusco is too young with his head in the clouds, but has good ideas. Giattino voted for Trump, or at least when asked who she voted for she said, "Private ballots!" BS. I'd have more respect for her if she owned it, like Nason does. Nonetheless, voting for Trump rules you out in my book. I don't know shit about Batisita(?) and he has no chance of topping 3%, so no worries there. Ravi's the safe bet, I'll take boring over 'complete lack of a moral compass' any day of the week.
Not stick
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October 10, 2017
It's interesting watch you guys try and point fingers at who's campaign I work for, skipping over the content of the post conpletely. For the record, I don't work for any campaign and I'm still undecided about who I'm going to vote for. One thing is for certain, I won't be voting for Stick.
Not Stick
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October 09, 2017
Romano owned and operated his bar while being a cop, which is against town ordinances.

Romano, while Freeholder, allowed our taxes to be raised every year he was in office.

Romano'a ward/son/who knows was a cop until he got busted in a coke sting. His pals went down while he was allowed to quit the force and walk away. He moved to California for six months to lay low.

Romano gets two tax payer pensions totaling about $120k a year, with the mayors pay he'd be making over $150k from tax payers. On top of the income from the bar and the rental units. He's a multimillionaire who lives in tax payer subsidized housing. Classy.

Romano famously announced one day that he doesn't believe in evolution.

Romano came into the bar late one night and started talking about how "the negrons" ruined Asbury Park. Over and over to the stunned patrons he talked about the "negrons" were getting pushed out of AP and were going to ruin other towns.

Romano has hit on every woman he's ever met. Wives of friends, girlfriends of friends, daughters of friends, it doesn't matter.

Romano used to keep a vodka bottle full of water behind the par so he could drink with women and stay sober, then he'd hit on them. Class act. As a cop he should have known that if he took any of them home that'd be rape.

When Romano redid the bar, he started hiring all young women as bartenders. Many of them only lasted a week or two, each one saying that Romano was a sleezeball, careful to never do anything that could get him sued, but creepy AF.

Romano once met a woman in the bar and found out she was a teacher in a neighboring town. The next day he called up the school and wry officially said, "This is Capn. Romano from the Hoboken Police Dept. I'd like to speak with XXX." When she left her class and came to the phone he hit on her.

Romano has proved again and again that he believes the rules of society (not to mention basic civility) don't count for him, and to top of off, he's an idiot.

He's Hoboken's own Trump.

Not Stick
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October 10, 2017
So the Romano campain's response is a homophobic slur and misspelled 'mayor.' Seems about right.
Stick4mayer
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October 10, 2017
I am. Not of. The campain in just a long time resident who wants what is best for my city. Call it what u want to a slur or momofobic it's ok. No body else in town want no sword swallowers neither. Zimmers people not good either especially the guy from Pakistan he is a liar and a cheat. Cal it what you want but u want real pride and deadication Romano is yur guy tell that other dude to stick to designingdrapes for livin rooms yabheard?
Stick4mayer
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October 10, 2017
I am sorry my speling is not good I am not foruneit as you I guess
anonymous
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October 10, 2017
I suspect the racist homophobic nonsense written by "stick4mayor" is not coming from stick's campaign. Rather it is probably the same poster who posted the anti-stick diatribe. Meaning it's the DeFusco campaign. If so it's both pathetic and truly disgusting.
HobokenLarry
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October 10, 2017
Yeah you must've right since Ravi and Jen's friend never ever spew this stuff on blogs ever And I mean GA and Horse where worse bile has been said but the comments never deleted. You win the internet today
anonymous
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October 10, 2017
Should we take that as an admission by the DeFusco campaign? Does Mike condone the posting of homophobic slurs on his behalf? I would hope he'd have enough self respect to be horrified if he knew but perhaps he's enough of an unprincipled opportunist not to care.
HobokenLarry
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October 10, 2017
Derrick

Nice spin. Does Jen know this is how you spend your time trying to help her online? It's as clear as day you are the OP and doing all the slurs but calling out another candidate. Has the Barnes household really stooped to this level? Get a life man.
DerekBarnes
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October 11, 2017
RE: HobokenLarry | October 10, 2017

I only comment under my real name. Not a sock puppet fake name. So whatever you're accusing me of here holds no water. (is that you again Alejandro, AKA John Antonio?).

Have a wonderful day kind sir/madam.

Warm Regards,

Derek