Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced that he is appointing Director of Operations Jason Freeman to serve as the business administrator for the City of Hoboken, a move some council members opposed.
“Over the past three years, Jason has been an invaluable resource for the City of Hoboken as a member of my administration,” Bhalla said. “Most recently, as the Director of Operations, Jason has gone above and beyond to ensure a continuation of City services and personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. His knowledge of City projects and relationships with City directors is second to none, and I can think of no better person to continue serving Hoboken in this new role.”
Freeman has served the city for nearly three years first as deputy chief of staff and then director of operations and acting business administrator.
Prior to his time with the City, Freeman served as the director of development for the Anti-Defamation League.
He attended Pennsylvania State University where he studied Political Science and Labor Employment Relations and is currently enrolled in a Master’s of Public Administration program at Rutgers University.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the residents of Hoboken, and I look forward to continuing to build upon the progress we have made over the past few years,” said Freeman who lives in Hoboken with his wife Rachel Hodes.
“Jason Freeman is the ideal candidate for the job of Business Administrator,” said former Hoboken Business Administrator Stephen Marks who left the position in February. “I got to work first-hand with Jason, and he is conscientious, responsible, and quickly became a key asset during labor negotiations, budget decisions, and more. He has my full support, and I wish him the best.”
Not everyone is pleased
“Just last week Hoboken taxpayers were handed a 7.5 percent property tax increase, largely at the hands of our Mayor and inexperienced Acting Business Administrator. Hoboken has gone nearly eight months without a permanent Business Administrator and instead of conducting an executive search to employ the most qualified candidate, Mayor Bhalla has once again chosen to elevate politics over good government by filling this seat with his former campaign volunteer,” said Councilman Michael DeFusco.
“These irresponsible appointments are why we continue to find ourselves in a massive financial deficit and only serve to benefit the Mayor’s own political career, not Hoboken taxpayers.”
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said she would vote against Freeman’s appointment.
“Why am I not shocked that for the most important role in the city, the person who all public employees report to, the mayor conducted no formal search to find the most experienced candidate and instead appoints one of his insiders,” said Fisher who noted Freeman is a subject in current litigation against the city brought by a Hoboken Fire Captain which claims the city did not promote him due to political retaliation and discrimination.
“When will the mayor start putting Hoboken first instead of his own interest? What is he trying to hide? Hoboken deserves better and I will be a loud ‘No’ vote on this Wednesday night,” Fisher said.
The Hoboken City Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
While the council typically approves of mayoral appointments, a council agenda of resolutions and ordinances up for adoption had not yet been published at the time of this writing on Oct. 2.