Letters from Hoboken council people suggest mayor’s choice to succeed her is not unanimous

TAKE US TO OUR LEADER. Pictured -- Washington Street in Hoboken.
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TAKE US TO OUR LEADER. Pictured -- Washington Street in Hoboken.

HOBOKEN — On Tuesday, Mayor Dawn Zimmer made a surprise announcement that she would not run for re-election (see cover story in this week’s Hoboken Reporter, in your print edition or under top stories on hudsonreporter.com).
Her allies were surprised. They were further surprised when she announced her endorsement of Councilman Ravi Bhalla for the spot.
The election for mayor and three council-at-large slots will be held in November. Besides Bhalla, several others are already running: businesswoman Karen Nason, Councilman Michael DeFusco (a former Zimmer ally) and probably Freeholder Anthony Romano, who told our political columnist he would run but has not yet held his press conference.

Since the press conference on Tuesday, Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino, also an ally of Zimmer, said that people had encouraged her to run and that she had not made a decision yet.
Zimmer allies also seem to think that her side should come to a consensus and choose a candidate — whether Bhalla or someone else.
Over the weekend, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who is also allied with Zimmer but sometimes has voted independently, released this letter:

“Dear Hoboken friends and neighbors –
What a week this has been for us…
It’s been a bit of a scramble the last few days as our entire community, myself included, reacts to the sudden and unexpected news that our Mayor Dawn Zimmer will not run for re-election this fall. I met with her shortly before her announcement and I have no doubt that she loves this city and that this decision was incredibly personal to her and a difficult one to make. I only wish her the best and equally great success on her new path. Personally, I believe she’s done an enormous amount of good for Hoboken as mayor and we all should thank her.
Looking ahead, the unintended consequence of her surprising announcement leaves many in our community, including me, to ask who is best equipped to lead Hoboken and take on its challenges while building on the foundation we’ve achieved in recent years?
And my threshold questions, in order of priority are:
• How do we ensure that we do not lose ground and go backward to the old corrupt practices of the past when two of our prior three mayors went to jail?
• Who is best positioned to be our CEO and be the leader we need to take Hoboken to the next level?
Although at the moment, it feels more like a burden, each hour that passes feels more like an opportunity of getting to take a fresh look at what Hoboken can and should look like in the future under new leadership and who that leader should be. I personally want to ensure that we continue the efforts championed by our current mayor for parks and open space, against corruption, ending flooding and ensuring safer streets, among others, but that we also take the opportunity to expand this vision and choose a leader who can take us further in the right direction.
Like myself, Councilman Peter Cunningham and City Council President Jen Giattino learned of the mayor’s decision late. On Thursday, Jen issued a statement in response to an outpouring of support asking she consider becoming a candidate for mayor. As a councilwoman, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Jen on complex issues and I have witnessed firsthand her leadership, competence and straightforward professionalism. I applaud her willingness to consider entering this race to be our next leader.
Although the Mayor announced her selection with her withdrawal last Tuesday, our choice in deciding who is best equipped to lead Hoboken in the future is a monumental one and deserves, as in the past from the grassroots, to have our voices heard. So I’d ask you consider the issues that matter to you and the leadership Hoboken needs for its future. Please feel free to reach out to me and let me know your thoughts and concerns on how we as a community should best take these critical steps.
This is our time to ENGAGE, ADVOCATE for ourselves, and stay INFORMED. And as always, remember that more voices are always better.
Please make your voice heard.”