Hoboken school board member accidentally sends text to superintendent and other members, referring to councilman and supporter as ‘butt buddies’


HOBOKEN — Politics in Hoboken is often nasty during election season, no matter what the position or side. Last week, school board member John Madigan of the Hoboken Board of Education reportedly called for fellow board member Irene Sobolov’s resignation after receiving an offensive text message that she erroneously sent out to a group of school board members and to Superintendent Christine Johnson. The text message said “butt buddies” and contained a photo of 1st Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco – who is the first openly gay councilman in Hoboken — standing next to a former school board candidate and founder of a local dads’ group.
DeFusco is said to be considering a run for office against incumbent Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who is finishing her second term and up for re-election this November. DeFusco has already held one political fundraiser this year – on the same night as Zimmer ally Councilman Ravi Bhalla, who is expected to run with Zimmer in fall.
When Madigan received the text last week, he asked other board members about it in an email to Board President Thomas Kluepfel and Vice President Sharyn Angley.
The text apparently came from board member Irene Sobolov, who has run on slates supported by Zimmer.
Sobolov said in NJ.com Tuesday that she had intended the text for another person and had accidentally sent it to the group after receiving another text from them. She stressed that she hadn’t been thinking of the term as an anti-gay slur, and immediately apologized to DeFusco.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer also decried the comment. “Our city should have no tolerance for that kind of offensive language or for the distribution of it other than for the purpose of condemning it.”
In the email obtained by the Hudson Reporter, Madigan wrote, “I am bringing this matter to your attention. We received a text message from Dr. Johnson at 2:44 p.m. regarding school issues. In response to this text we received a vile disturbing and certainly inappropriate text message at 3:17 p.m. from a sitting board member. This text was regarding a Hoboken councilman and a Hoboken resident. I do not wish to repeat the comments in the text. Tom we must handle this before the board gets a sullied reputation. I feel [we] must meet to discuss this matter.”
Madigan said in a report that he was concerned because of the message the text may send to gay youth in the city.
Madigan, too, received an apology via email from Sobolov.
“Dear John, I wanted to apologize for accidentally forwarding a screen shot I received to a full board text thread. I sincerely apologize. Irene.”
The person pictured with DeFusco is a former candidate who ran in 2013 on a ticket that opposed the Zimmer-backed slate. He also founded the Hoboken Dads group in 2011.