It looks like the opposition to Mayor Anthony Russo for the May 8 elections may run just as high-powered a campaign as the mayor himself. Last week, the campaign of Councilman David Roberts announced its slate at a well-decorated headquarters, complete with glossy handouts and the attendance of campaign manager Michael Lenz, who will be paid $1,000 per week.
Roberts announced on Tuesday afternoon the three hopeful city councilpeople who will run for office with him. Russo is expected to officially declare his candidacy within the next few weeks.
Mayor Russo has not yet opened up a campaign headquarters, but has already been employing a political consulting firm to poll residents.
Any independent who wishes to join the fray has till March 15 to file a petition with the city clerk’s office but will face a stiff challenge from two candidates who have already amassed sizeable war chests. Roberts plans to raise at least $150,000 for his campaign, and Russo has already collected more than $350,000 in contributions.
Roberts introduced his ticket’s at-large candidates at the press conference Tuesday. They are: current 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, community activist Carol Marsh, and incumbent at-large councilman Tony Soares.
Also introduced was campaign manager Michael Lenz, a former school board president who until recently was rumored to be considering a run at the mayor’s office himself. Lenz, who has billed himself as a reformer and has criticized the Russo administration in the past, decided that his efforts would be better spent working with Roberts, with whom he shares many political beliefs.
“This is a different type of kick-off,” said State Sen. Bernard Kenny (D-33rd Dist.) as he introduced Roberts to the crowd. “We are in a sprint now, but this is not the beginning for us; this ticket already has three years of campaigning, three years of politics and three years of putting it on the line.”
Kenny was likely referring to the political risk that Roberts and Kenny took by publicly breaking with Russo.
Roberts said he wants to run in order to end “irresponsible development,” to control taxes, to improve parking, to provide efficient, effective city services, to restore ethics to City Hall and to increase participation in local government.
“Hoboken is at a crossroads,” said Roberts, as he was surrounded with political allies such as former Mayor Steve Cappiello and Hudson County Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons. “We’re going to make sure that the future of Hoboken is preserved.”
Also in his speech, Roberts criticized the current administration for promoting “irresponsible development,” taking campaign donations from developers that have a future interest in Hoboken, and not lowering taxes enough.
The Roberts camp declined to take an all-out pledge not to take donations from developers themselves. Lenz said that he didn’t want to be subjected to cheap shots if a resident who put an extension on his house wanted to donate money.
In addition to Roberts’ announcement, the Hoboken United Team 2001 also presented their candidates for the city’s three at-large council seats. The trifecta includes Councilman-at-Large Anthony Soares, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and political newcomer Carol Marsh.
Although this is the first time running for office for Marsh, she has been an active community advocate since she moved to Hoboken in 1984 with her husband. She is a vice president of an international investment bank in Manhattan and now works part time while raising her 5-year-old son Adam. She is running on a platform of increased public notice and participation in the city government process. Marsh advocated that openings on city boards be advertised, that agendas of public meetings be published in advance of the meetings, and that a real traffic study for Hoboken be produced.
March also would like to see the public have input before zoning laws are changed and an open discussion about the cost and value of open space.
Also, as expected, Ramos, the current 4th Ward Councilman, will seek election to an at-large seat. In his speech, he promised that just because he is running for an at-large (which covers the entire town) he will not forget about the 4th Ward and the issues associated with that ward. That ward contains the city’s public housing.
Ramos also discussed his belief that the Hoboken Parking Authority is in need of major changes. “The Hoboken Parking Authority has created more no-show jobs than it has parking spaces,” said Ramos. “If we are lucky enough to be elected, we are going to overhaul the Hoboken Parking Authority from top to bottom.”
In seeking re-election to his at-large seat, Soares was quick to criticize the current administration.
“I was running for the ‘little guy,’ Soares said in a prepared speech. “I’m still the little guy, but today, I am standing up to those so-called ‘big guys’ in City Hall.”
Soares went on to denounce the Russo administration for “squandering opportunities” by helping perpetrate “irresponsible development” and not lowering taxes enough.
Soares, Roberts and Ramos voted last month against the mayor’s most recent budget, which lowers taxes by 3 cents per $1,000 of property owned, but did not publicly offer suggestions on how to make significant cuts.