Hoboken’s municipal elections this year will be defined by the city council elections, with 10 candidates vying for three at-large seats that are up for grabs.
The candidates, featuring two slates of three and four independents, are running for four year terms in an election whose outcome will shape future city governance. It comes in an election year where Mayor Ravi Bhalla is running unopposed for a second term since his first election in 2017.
The council will also have a guaranteed newcomer in 2022, with Councilwoman Vanessa Falco vacating her seat at the end of her term to become the new head of the Division of Housing in the city.
Team Bhalla defends their seats
Councilmembers Emily Jabbour and Jim Doyle are running for reelection under the Team Bhalla slate. They are joined by Jon Quintero, a finance worker, and is also the Hoboken Democratic Committee 3rd Vice Chair.
In a turn of events, Doyle was originally not going to run for a third term in office, with Dini Ajmani initially running in his place. But Ajmani departed from the team a short while after and eventually joined the U.S Treasury Department; Doyle would then join the slate to run for reelection again.
Jabbour, who was first elected in 2017 under Bhalla’s slate, is running with the team again, and pitched her support for the mayor’s policies and initiatives such as the COVID-19 pandemic response and the Vision Zero plan in increasing traffic safety.
“I think that the mayor has done a tremendous job,” she said. “I think he has demonstrated leadership, has had to make very difficult decisions, and has juggled a lot of competing priorities very effectively.”
With flooding becoming a major issue for residents, especially after the damage caused by Tropical Storm Ida, Doyle and Quintero called flooding their number one priority, with the former continuing his support for the Rebuild by Design program, and the latter laying out resiliency and flood resistance infrastructure plans.
The Team Bhalla slate has been endorsed by Councilman Phil Cohen, the N.J. League of Conservation Voters, SEIU 32BJ and the Hotel Trades Council.
Independently Together checks in
The second slate running in Hoboken is the Independently Together slate. Consisting mostly of political newcomers, the three aim to be an independent voice in the Hoboken government.
The slate includes Sheila Brennan, a real estate agent, Cheryl Fallick, a housing advocate who previously ran for office, and Paul Presinanzo, a finance worker. Brennan and Presinanzo are running for public office for the first time.
All three have said that they want to be a check on Bhalla and his policies, supporting what they believe are good ideas but will raise objections on other proposals they think need changes or lack merit.
“We are independent, so we’re not beholden to anybody,” said Brennan. “We have our own ideas about how things should get done. We have the people’s interest at heart, and we are not expected to vote a certain way.”
The slate is focused on issues such as pedestrian safety, in getting more community feedback and enforcing laws, and parking, such as getting cars off the road and better utilizing parking garages for those with parking permits.
Brennan is focused on infrastructure, housing justice and flooding, while Fallick issues include being a check on developments and supporting small businesses. Presinanzo’s proposals include having less wasteful spending and making the government more sufficient.
The slate is endorsed by City Council Vice President Jen Giattino and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, a prominent critic of Bhalla.
Running as independents without any slate is Patricia Waiters, an activist, Ian Rintel, owner of Play! Hoboken, Manuel Rivera, and Cindy Wiegand.
Patricia Waiters is a perennial candidate who frequently runs for public office in Hudson County. She said she would focusing on making the city of Hoboken more diverse.
Ian Rintel is the owner of Play! Hoboken running for office for the first time. He is intent on running Hoboken like a business, with his top priorities being easing the process in starting a business and creating a universal set of parking rules.
Manuel Rivera is running for public office for the first time, who said that he has worked for a number of political campaigns. His priorities are safer streets, housing, garbage collecting, and parking.
Cindy Wiegand works in market research and is running for public office for the first time as a political outsider. Aiming to be an independent voice, she plans to focus on quality of life, ease of doing business, and government responsiveness.
How to vote
Early voting will run from Oct. 23 to 31; in Hoboken, it will take place at City Hall at 94 Washington St. in the first floor conference room via the Newark St. entrance. Voters can also vote via mail and in-person on Election Day on Nov. 2.
CORRECTION: The article incorrectly stated that Sheila Brennan previously ran for public office. Cheryl Fallick was the candidate who previously ran for office. This is Brennan’s first time running for office.