In an email to constituents, Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham has announced he will not seek reelection.
“Twelve years is a good long time to serve on City Council, and I am more than proud of my accomplishments,” said Cunningham. “I can say, from my perspective, I have made this city proud of who it was, who it is today, and who it will be into the future. With that being said and after careful thought with family and friends, I have decided to not run for re-election this year. I must now devote increased time to my professional life and more importantly, my responsibilities as a husband and a father.”
In November, residents will elect six of the nine City Council members, each representing one of the city’s six wards.
Cunningham has served on the council for the past 12 years. He was first elected in 2007 in a “period of reform,” and noted the work he did to help root out corruption in the city.
He said he was most proud of his time as council president in 2009, beginning the city’s financial and economic reform
“We went from state supervision to attaining one of the top credit ratings in New Jersey,” said Cunningham. “We financed critical projects to support our infrastructure and build parks. As chair of the Revenue and Finance Committee of the council working closely with Mayor Zimmer’s appointments I selected, we built a solid, sustainable financial infrastructure.”
He said he is also proud of the difficult campaigns for new council members and the continuing re-elections of Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
“These were hard fought races which insured that reform efforts were not only temporary, but a lasting foundation for good government in Hoboken,” he said.
Several other proud moments that he touched on included the appointment of members to the city’s Zoning Board and its leadership; responsibly examine all aspects of development; saving the hospital which nearly shut down due to financial issues, and saving the community garden built at Fox Hill Gardens two years ago.
Cunningham said that he entrusts his legacy to Councilwomen Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher.
In a press release, Fisher and Giattino, both longtime colleagues and friends of Cunningham, praised him as a strong, independent voice on the council who has advocated for efficiency, competence and transparency in city government.
“I first met Peter in 2009, when he was organizing the uptown farmers market and he was the first person to encourage me to run for city council in 2011,” said Council President Giattino. ”Peter was a true reformer, who was the mastermind behind getting the city’s finances in order. No matter the issue, Peter has always done what he believed was best for the city. It will be a great loss for Hoboken to no longer have his independent voice on the city council.”
Cunningham also joined others, including Zimmer, to encourage Fisher to run in 2015.
“Peter has been the sage, the voice of reason on all decisions we have made on the council,” said Fisher. “At the core of his decision making, and what I respect most about his leadership, is his commitment to always doing what was best for Hoboken and his 5th Ward neighbors. Peter’s judgment and independent voice have had positive impacts on our community and will be missed. I will work hard to continue his legacy of reform, good government and unconditional commitment to Hoboken. I am grateful for his continuing friendship and support and wish he and his family all the best.”
Mayor Ravi Bhalla thanked Cunningham for his 12 years of service to Hoboken.
“I appreciate the dedication he demonstrated for his constituents and the contributions he made to the reform movement,” said Bhalla. “I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Who is next?
Phil Cohen is the only candidate, so far, to announce he is running for Cunningham’s seat. He is running on Bhalla’s slate, which was first announced in May.
Cunningham has yet to endorse anyone for the position.
“As you can see, I am not ‘anointing’ the next 5th Ward councilperson which was done by the previous mayor,” said Cunningham. “While some close friends believe I should, it would be hypocritical. I believe a strong, independent candidate will emerge, and I look forward to working hard to ensure his or her election.”
Of Cunningham’s decision not to run for reelection Cohen said, “I want to thank Peter Cunningham for his 12 years of service to the Fifth Ward as our Councilman. I wish Peter a well-deserved respite from 12 years of work for the citizens of Hoboken. I look forward to earning the support of the voters of the Fifth Ward and building on the progress and legacy of reform to which Peter was a key contributor.”