Between the Lines

Critical elections on every level

The Nov. 6 election has more at stake for Hudson County than most elections, not just on a federal level, but also locally.

At the top of the ticket, incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is being challenged by seven candidates, the strongest of which are Republican Bob Hugin and Green Party candidate Madelyn Hoffman.

Democrats in Hudson County are gearing up to get out the vote in order to save Menendez at a time when nationally it appears that the GOP may actually pick up several Senate seats, expanding their slim majority. In their campaign, Democrats are selling the idea that a vote for Hugin is another vote for the agenda of President Donald Trump. This is a legitimate assessment.

Yet local Democrats have a lot more to lose if Menendez is defeated. Menendez remains the glue that holds the party together and if he is defeated, Hudson County Democrats lose significant clout not only Washington D.C., but also in Trenton. More importantly without Menendez, the local political bosses will likely fall back into their traditional political feuds.

While state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack lost this bid to become chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization last June, he may be tempted to unseat County Executive Tom DeGise in next June’s Democratic Primary. DeGise is largely under the protection of Menendez.

Rep. Albio Sires, who is running for reelection on Nov. 6, will also likely become vulnerable in 2020 without Menendez to help protect him.  Menendez is also a strong supporter of Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis as well as a host of other local officials.

Will Hoboken go back in time?

While traditionally, the Hoboken school board election is often hotly contested, this year the big issue on the ballot is the referendum question as to whether the city should restore runoff elections. This would prevent a mayor or council person from being elected with less than a 50 percent majority of the votes cast – which occurred both in the 2017 municipal election allowing Ravi Bhalla to get elected from a crowded field of candidates and allowed Dawn Zimmer to be reelected in 2013 when a ticket headed by Tim Occhipinti split the anti-Zimmer vote.

Zimmer successfully did away with the runoff by a referendum vote in 2012, which set the stage for her successful reelection.

A return to the runoff would force the top two vote-getters to face off in mayoral and council races, and would affect next year’s ward council races if the referendum passes.

WNY school board races foreshadows municipal election in May

The Nov. 6 Board of Education race in West New York may well be a test of Mayor Felix Roque’s political clout.

There are three tickets of three candidates running for three seats.

Roque is backing one. But Sires’ wife Adriane Kole-Sires is leading another in an election that many see as a test of political influence. Albio Sires is expected to back a ticket against Roque in next May’s municipal election. How well the Sires-backed school board ticket does this year may well be an indication of Roque’s strength or lack of strength in May.

Bayonne school board race will decide new superintendent

Bayonne has the most complicated school board race this year. There are three tickets running for three seats for three year terms, as well as a host of independents. There is also a race for a one-year term.

The tickets are generally seen as a reflection of last year’s municipal race since one ticket is backed by Mayor Davis, a second ticket has many people formerly loyal to former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, and a third ticket, lead by the wife of political maverick and board member Michael Alonso.

As if this was not complicated enough, Leo Smith, who replaced as the school board’s business administrator, is also running for a three-year term. He is the brother of former Mayor Mark Smith. Mary Jane Desmond, who resigned from the board earlier this year, is also running for a three-year term, as is John Cupo.

There are five candidates running for the one-year term, including Michael Mulcahy – seen as someone aligned with O’Donnell – Hector Gonzalez, David Solari, Gina Irizarry, and Mikel Lawandy.

Irizarry has run for several years and seen her numbers rising with each election. Lawandy has the distinction of having been appointed as temporary board replacement several times, but has yet to actually win an election.

Jersey City board election is all about Lyles

The board candidates in Jersey City’s Board of Education election might try to dispel the notion that one ticket of the two tickets is supportive of School Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles and the other ticket is against her, but most people see the race as just that.

There are two tickets of three running for three seats of three years, and two independents.

Those currently seen as pro-Lyles are currently in the minority, but this election could change that.

Secaucus board election does not have Troyer

Tom Troyer has been running to regain his seat on the Secaucus Board of Education for so long, many are puzzled as to why he chose not to run this year. Some suspect he will be running for council in the future. So the board race has six candidates seeking three seats for three year terms.