HOBOKEN — Some residents received a letter in their mailboxes on Thursday from Mayor Dawn Zimmer — who has backed Councilman Ravi Bhalla to succeed her in the Nov. 7 mayoral election — in which she blasts one of Bhalla’s opponents, Councilwoman Jen Giattino, stating that Zimmer has “sincere concerns about Council President Giattino as a mayoral candidate.”
The letter states, “Jen, like many of her fellow elected Republicans, does not accept that climate change is a real issue requiring urgent government action.”
Giattino refuted this on Friday.
When asked directly about whether she believes climate change is an urgent issue, Giattino said, “Of course I believe it’s urgent. I experienced [Hurricane] Sandy personally. That’s why I compost and do everything I can to limit my carbon footprint.”
She also noted, “I have worked with Mayor Zimmer for six years. We have worked together to address the impact of Hurricane Sandy and climate change, and she gets all the credit in the world. As mayor, I will follow that work through to completion.”
Bhalla has made an issue of the fact that Giattino is a registered Republican. He has pledged to fight the policies of Donald Trump. Giattino has said she didn’t vote for Trump, and voted for Gary Johnson last year.
In her letter, in which Zimmer reminds residents of her support for Bhalla, she says she doesn’t believe Giattino will complete Rebuild by Design and that she didn’t support the the Southwest park and thus may not complete its expansion. She claimed “Jen told me that property owners in the 6th Ward had paid extra to live near a park , and should not have to help pay for what she called ‘a pocket park’ in the Southwest.”
Giattino responded, “I’m not going to get into a he said/she said over what was supposedly said three years ago. What I will point out is two years ago, after these supposed comments, she worked her butt off to get me reelected, for which I am very grateful.”
As for Rebuild by Design, the federal project to install flood barriers in Hoboken, Giattino issued a press release on Thursday in which she said, “I was council president when Hoboken was awarded the Rebuild By Design project and along with the full support of my council colleagues I worked side by side with Mayor Zimmer to advocate for this project. This is a big step in the process of making Hoboken resilient and sustainable. I know that we will work together regardless of the differences we sometimes have to get this done for all the residents of Hoboken.”
Climate change is something the Trump administration has taken issue with; in fact, years ago, Trump referred to global warming as a “hoax.” Nevertheless, government scientists on federal websites state that the earth’s average temperature has risen for each decade of the last hundred years. And while some scientists disagree about whether climate change has caused recent devastating storms, they agree (including on Nasa’s website) that manmade emissions will cause more intense storms over the next 100 years if steps are not taken to combat the problem.
Zimmer has said climate change is a big concern of hers, and rumors suggest she may become head of the state DEP if Phil Murphy is elected governor on Nov. 7.
Political war continues
Giattino, who has supported most of Zimmer’s initiatives, has lately taken to criticizing aspects of Zimmer’s administration, including blaming her for streetlights that are out.
Zimmer publicly endorsed Bhalla to succeed her in a surprise press conference in June, in which also announced that she would not run again. Within days, Giattino’s supporters, who did not know in advance about the conference, urged Giattino to run. She and Bhalla may split the Zimmer-supporter base. There are also four other candidates running for mayor.
Zimmer and Bhalla have been closely allied for all eight years of Bhalla’s time on the council, and in fact, Bhalla, a lawyer, did pro bono work for Zimmer and her husband on a personal matter involving their home a few years ago. While at least one resident complained about this, it did not break any laws.
Giattino has served on the council for six years.
For much more on the race and the upcoming election, see this weekend’s stories and past stories in the Hoboken Reporter at hudsonreporter.com