The legendary rock band The Kinks certainly didn’t have Jersey City in mind when they sang, “It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world,” but the lyric certainly fits the strange changes occurring on the political scene these days.
Last week, with Mayor Steven Fulop’s approval, the City Council voted to appoint Jermaine Robinson as Ward F councilman, replacing Diane Coleman, who was elected in November to become the county register.
Ironically, in 2013, Robinson ran with then Mayor Jerramiah Healy who was defeated by Fulop, and Robinson lost to Coleman in a runoff election to determine the council seat in Ward F.
Three councilmen opposed to Fulop (Michael Yun, Richard Boggiano, and Chris Gadsden) voted against Robinson.
It is unclear if Robinson will be Fulop’s candidate for Ward F in the November municipal elections, but most likely he will. This shifting of alliances may well demonstrate the desperate need to fill holes in the Fulop campaign this year.
Well over six months before the filing deadline, candidates are lining up to run in what should be one of the most interesting elections in decades.
Boggiano has not yet announced if he will run for mayor or reelection in Ward C. But he will have opposition if he seeks reelection. Rekha Nandwani kicked off her campaign and may likely wind up the candidate of choice on the Fulop ticket, since she has received words of support from Council President Rolando Lavarro, a Fulop running mate. Imtiaz Syed, who also ran in 2013, is also apparently eying the Ward C seat.
Sean Connors, who ran unsuccessfully on the Fulop ticket for Ward D seat in 2013, is expected to run again, especially if Ward D Councilman Yun runs for mayor.
But Connors may have his hands full with Mo Kinberg, who is also running for Ward D council. She is expected to have strong support from the Riverview section, and will likely be Fulop’s choice as a running mate.
Still not yet announced — but a viable candidate — activist Esther Wintner might well run against Gadsden in Ward B. So may Richard McCormack. The West Side political hive, Gary’s Sweet Shoppe, is abuzz with gossip about which candidates in Ward B will be.
Fulop is rumored likely to tap Amy DeGise in Ward A.
Although speculation once suggested Fulop might ask Nicholas Grillo to run for one of the three at-large council seats, Grillo will be running in Ward E. This pits him against Fulop’s candidate, Council member Candice Osborne.
With Fulop, Bill Matsikoudis, and Charles Mainor as the declared mayoral candidates so far, there will be a need for council candidates through the city.
Is Cunningham’s Senate seat being eyed?
A telephone poll this week in Jersey City raised some additional questions about this year’s election. While naturally, the pollster asked what people thought of Fulop and Matsikoudis (and struggled to pronounce Matsikoudis’ name), more interesting were the questions concerning State Senator Sandra Cunningham.
The pollster asked who might match up against Cunningham – Councilwoman Joyce Watterman, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, or former Assemblyman Mainor? This suggests that someone – most likely the Fulop camp – may be looking to replace Cunningham in the upcoming primary.
The poll also apparently asked about John Minella, executive director of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, as a possible candidate.
Secaucus Democrats stir back to life
Possible challengers to Independent Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli are starting to appear in an attempt to revitalize the mostly dormant Democratic Party.
Secaucus has a long history of Independents running government there. In late 1970s, a new Democratic Party emerged with an influx of residents moving to Secaucus from Hoboken and Jersey City. The Democrats became very strong in the late 1980s lead by people like Rocco Impreveduto and his son, Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto, and eventually became the dominant power in the 1990s under Mayors Anthony Just and later Dennis Elwell.
But in 2009, when Elwell was charged in the Bid Rig III federal probe, Gonnelli became mayor. Gonnelli had already started a resurgence of Independents prior to that moment. Since then, Gonnelli has remained the largely undisputed leader in Secaucus. A new faction of Democrats has been seeking candidates to rebuild the party and possible take control of one of the four council seats up for grabs in November.
Guttenberg gets a new town administer
Proving the Hudson County is really a small world after all, Guttenberg hired West New York Commission Cosmo Cirillo as its town administrator.
Cirillo has strong political ties to State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
Last year, Jamie Cryan, former chair of the Hoboken Democratic Organization, took the job as West New York town manager – a role most agree he seems to be doing well.
Will it be O’Donnell against Davis in Bayonne?
Although still more than a year away, Bayonne’s mayoral race appears to be taking focus. Although unannounced, former Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell appears to be the person most believe will ultimately challenge Mayor Jimmy Davis in 2018. O’Donnell, who served for a time as the municipal Democratic chairman in Bayonne, was a key member of Mayor Mark Smith’s administration. Support for O’Donnell appears to be coming not only from former Smith supporters, but some who have become dissatisfied with Davis.
Hoboken opposition still uncertain
Going into 2017, Mayor Dawn Zimmer currently is the only announced mayoral candidate. While some suggest that Freeholder Anthony Romano may run against her, people in the Zimmer opposition are still talking about alternative candidates. The problem is that most tickets need a year prior to the election to fully organize, especially running against someone who is seen as strong as Zimmer. Romano said he will run in the primary for freeholder first, and then make up his mind about mayor. For all the talk, it is possible that Zimmer might go unopposed with only her at-large council candidates facing opposition.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org