Pick your representative

Fourteen candidates are running for six ward council seats

On Nov. 5 Hoboken residents will elect six ward council representatives from among 14 candidates.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov.5. Races for Hoboken City Council include five incumbents, one five-person slate backed by Mayor Ravi Bhalla, and four independents, seeking six ward council seats on the nine-member council.

First Ward

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Incumbent Councilman Michael DeFusco and “Team Bhalla” candidate Migdalia Pagan-Milano are running in the First Ward.

DeFusco has lived in downtown Hoboken for the past 15 years and has served as the First Ward councilman for the past four.

He currently works as an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 media company in Manhattan.

He said his proudest accomplishment on the council has been advancing the redevelopment plan for the Hoboken Terminal to bring an outdoor European-style market to Warrington Plaza, as well as the Small Businesses Expansion Plan.

As the first openly gay man to be elected to municipal office in Hudson County, he’s proud of addressing the city’s former failing score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. He’s chairman of the Hudson County LGBTQ caucus.

He said it’s important to have  someone on the council “who is unafraid to hold the administration accountable and work together to pass good policy for Hoboken.”

“I bring a private sector mindset to the table and don’t rely on this position for my own personal or financial benefit, allowing me to always take a stand for what is right, not politically convenient,” he said.

If reelected he would work to protect affordable and middle-income housing by beginning renegotiation discussions between the city and Marineview Plaza whose financial agreement will expire in five years.

He wants to work with county, state, and federal stakeholders to fund investments in the city’s infrastructure.

Migdalia Pagan-Milano was born and raised in Hoboken and began working for the city’s cultural affairs office when she was 19. She now works for the city’s constituent services.

She’s proud of coordinating pride activities such as working with the city to paint Hoboken’s crosswalk outside City Hall in Pride colors to celebrate World Pride for the first time.

“The First Ward deserves someone they can trust who has an unerring sense of ethics, integrity, and willingness to work cooperatively without being a ‘rubber stamp,’” she said.

If elected she will help control development in the First Ward as several future projects will bring more residential units to the area.

She said development should be “in scale with what is appropriate for Hoboken.”

Second Ward

Incumbent Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and “Team Bhalla” candidate Nora Martinez DeBenedetto are running for Second Ward.

Fisher has lived in Hoboken for 25 years.  She has served on the council for the past four years full-time, having left her career in finance and commercial real estate in 2013.

She’s proud of her voting record and working collaboratively with the Zimmer and Bhalla administrations, supporting the completion of Washington St., expanding the Southwest and Northwest parks, developing the new Hilton Hotel, adding bike infrastructure including a multi-use lane to Sinatra Drive and a newly designed intersection at 14th Street and Shipyard Lane, passing legislation to address displacement and affordability, and establishing the city’s first Special Improvement District.

Her proudest accomplishment is the new Suez contract that she said will help end water main breaks and save taxpayers $30 million.

“We need leadership who listens and engages; is transparent and informative on all issues; has the interest, commitment, and experience to tackle the big and small issues today and in the future, who strives to be a uniting leader, not a dividing one; and who believes more voices give us the best chance for the best outcome.”

“Hoboken and my Second Ward neighbors can count on me to continue to be this independent leader and to always vote for and question what is best for Hoboken,” she said.

The two most pressing issues are making pedestrians feel safe on sidewalks and completing Rebuild By Design.

Team Bhalla candidate Nora Martinez DeBenedetto was born and raised in Hoboken. She teaches preschool in Hoboken and runs the city’s Art in the Park program.

Her proudest accomplishment is “sticking around and sticking up for my town,” helping organize a farmers market, supporting rent control, and organizing voter registration drives.

She wants to protect access to the waterfront at the Union Dry Dock and Monarch sites.

“For too long we have been left behind while other areas of the city have been at the head of the line,” she said. “We need to make sure that the Second Ward doesn’t have to wait one more day for better pedestrian safety measures, increased Hop service, and community space.”

Third Ward

Incumbent Councilman Michael Russo and independent candidate Ron Bautista are running for Third Ward.

Russo was born and raised in Hoboken and has been on the council for four terms. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the sole proprietor of NJIB.

His proudest accomplishment has been obtaining open space at Seventh and Jackson streets.

He hopes to help Mayor Bhalla achieve the Vision Zero initiative. He’s chair of the transportation committee and is on the Vision Zero Task Force.

In the Third Ward, he said, “There were promises made and promises kept, from parks and recreation to parking and transportation. I believe the residents of the Third Ward will want me to continue representing them.”

Bautista has lived in Hoboken for 20 years and works in New York City leading cultural competency and Latino marketing initiatives at a large nonprofit health plan.

He is proudest of bringing people together for better mobility and pedestrian safety, advocating for street bump-outs and protected bike lanes.

He will fight to make streets safer by making the car lanes no wider than 11 feet, expanding corners with bump-outs, placing bumps right before intersections, and creating protected bike lanes.

He said he should be elected because he’s been an advocate for pedestrian safety and has been an adviser on transit solutions for the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation. At the NY State Department of State, he built relationships between government and the community.

Bautista said he would advocate for a more people-friendly city with better transit, cleaner air, and safer streets.

Fourth Ward

Incumbent Councilman Ruben Ramos and Bhalla-backed Lisa Sprengel are running in the Fourth Ward.

Ramos was born and raised in Hoboken. He teaches eighth grade in Paterson. He has served on the council from 1999 to 2009 and 2015 to present. He served in the NJ General Assembly from 2008 to 2013.

He’s proudest of renegotiating the Suez contract. While on the council his accomplishments included new traffic patterns and traffic lights in southwest Hoboken, opening the southwest park and establishing summer programs there, street paving, safety improvements to Newark Street, upgrades at Madison Street and Jefferson street parks, securing funding for security upgrades and new and ADA-compliant bathrooms at the Hoboken Housing Authority, and acquiring a new senior medical transport vehicle.

He wants to connect Paterson Plank Road from Hoboken to Jersey City, which he has already started working on.

Sprengel has lived in Hoboken for 13 years and works in finance and accounting, as a controller for a New York City-based food market.

Proud that she is running for city council, she wants to ensure that Fourth Ward development is in the best interest of the residents while considering the additional stress to infrastructure, traffic, parking, and quality of life.

“I want to improve pedestrian and traffic issues, and ensure honest elections,” she said. “If I’m elected, I can guarantee that I have no agenda, no alliances with any unions or PAC’s and will only work for the residents of Hoboken to ensure the highest quality of life.”

Fifth Ward

The three Fifth Ward candidates are former chair of the Hoboken Democratic Party Phil Cohen who is on the “Team Bhalla” ticket, and independent candidates Timothy Crowell and Nicola Maganuco.

Cohen is a lawyer who has lived in Hoboken for 33 years. He’s most proud of raising two daughters in Hoboken with his wife.

An active volunteer in Hoboken for nearly 20 years, he says he loves Hoboken.

He wants to complete the Rebuild by Design project, focusing on the issue for the past two years as a member of the Citizens Advisory Board.

Crowell has lived in Hoboken for the past six years and works as an asset manager of New York City real estate. He’s most proud of volunteering at the Hoboken Shelter.

“From pedestrian safety to waterfront issues to small business revitalization to doggie doo doo, I believe I am the person to advocate for the people of the Fifth Ward,” he said.

He wants to represent the Fifth Ward independently as the ward is “positioned to reap the rewards of new development, as well as to bear the brunt of the challenges it will bring.”

Maganuco has lived in Hoboken for about four years and is an assistant vice president for a global financial services company in New York City.

He’s proud of founding the twitter account @HobokenCommuter that promotes local commuter issues and traffic alerts.

He said he’s close to the issues Fifth Ward residents face such as the dangerous intersection near Trader Joe’s, flooding, the delay of the Washington Street project, and the difficulty commuting on the NJ Transit bus.

He wants to bring express uptown buses to Clinton Street, expand bus routes west of Clinton Street, and get a 15th Street Light Rail Station.

 Sixth Ward

Incumbent Council President Jen Giattino, Bhalla-backed Cristin Cricco-Powell, and independent candidate Frank Rosner are running.

Giattino has lived in Hoboken for 22 years. She’s a realtor and has served on the council since 2011.

During her tenure she’s worked to acquire the Northwest Resiliency Park, get stop signs added to corners, get loading zones placed in residential neighborhoods, worked to upgrade and maintain Church Square and Stevens Parks, secured $250,000 in county grants to upgrade dog parks, and advocated for tenants’ rights.

“I have been consistently available and accessible to any and all Hoboken residents,” she said. “No problem is too big or small, too insignificant or complex for me to tackle the issue, be a voice for the residents, and find a workable solution.”

She said she has a track record of putting residents first.

She wants to monitor quality-of-life issues like 5G poles, e-scooters, park maintenance, and development. She would push for responsible zoning so historic neighborhoods maintain their character, and open-space preservation.

Cricco-Powell was born and raised in Hoboken and moved back in 2007. She is an executive producer of TV series and documentaries.

She’s proud of being an advocate for the district schools.

As a Hoboken native, professional, and public school mom, she says she has friends across nearly every Hoboken demographic.

She wants to help small businesses, increase affordable housing, and create an intergenerational recreation program.

“We have many disparate groups living in Hoboken, and I want to bring everyone to the table,” said Cricco-Powell.

Rosner has lived in Hoboken for 40 years and is an account executive for Brinks Global Services.

He is most proud of cofounding the Elysian Charter School and serving on its board for two terms.

He said he will advocate for affordable housing, ensure a contiguous waterfront walkway, advocate for park upgrades, work for a community pool and recreational facilities, advocate for smart development, revisit the redesign of Observer Highway,  and revisit Hoboken’s “scooter experiment” and protected bike lanes.

He vows “to listen and create cost-effective policy and its implementation, along with a unified council, in concert with a sound policy from the mayor’s office when it makes sense, for the benefit of the Sixth Ward and the entire city.”

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.