Hoboken mayor-elect picks former running mate as chief of staff; former opponent responds

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HOBOKEN — Mayor-Elect Ravi Bhalla ran with three council candidates, two of whom won election. On Thursday, he announced that the third, John Allen, will be hired as his chief of staff.
Allen is an attorney at Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP specializing in the representation of government bodies including boards of education and municipalities.
Allen currently serves as a Hoboken Democratic Committeeman and on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals New Jersey, a non-profit dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities. He previously was involved in politics in Old Bridge, N.J.
“John will bring dedication, energy and smarts to City Hall,” said Bhalla in the press release. “I am very pleased that he is coming on board.”
“I am looking forward to helping to implement Ravi Bhalla’s vision and plans for Hoboken,” said Allen in the press release. “It is a tremendous opportunity to serve the city I live in and love.”
According to the press release, Vijay Chaudhuri, Bhalla’s campaign manager and former chief of staff for Mayor Dawn Zimmer who stepped down in August is leaving for “an exciting new public service opportunity, but will remain a key advisor to the mayor.”
Allen will begin Dec. 4.
Councilman Michael DeFusco, a former mayoral statement who is serving on Bhalla’s transition team, released a statement on the announcement Thursday:
“Given Mayor-Elect Bhalla’s status as an attorney at a very politically-connected law firm that has millions of dollars in government contracts, many Hoboken residents are concerned about the potential conflicts of interest that could arise when clients of the firm and the city become involved in negotiations or other sensitive matters. Hiring another politically-connected attorney in his former running mate John Allen does nothing to address those concerns, and in fact raises even more questions that have to be answered. While the chief of staff position is not subject to council approval, I believe that residents deserve a full accounting of both Mayor-Elect Bhalla and John Allen’s ties to major entities that our city does business with, and I plan to pursue these issues further.”