Historic election day set in Weehawken Voters will select five township council members for four-year terms

On Tuesday, Weehawken’s approximately 5,500 registered voters will head to the polling booths to elect the three ward council and the two at-large council members who will lead the township into perhaps its most important transitional phase in history.

With the possibility of a new mayor also eventually being selected (an elected council member is eventually appointed as mayor), Tuesday’s election is a momentous one in the history of Weehawken politics.

Firstly, it is the first fully contested election in 12 years, with all five council seats up for grabs. Secondly, it marks the first time that three-term Mayor Richard Turner has faced opposition in running for an at-large council seat.

What’s at stake is the chance to take over the leadership in a town that will see changes in the future including the Roseland Properties’ Port Imperial South waterfront development, the revitalization of long-stagnant Park Avenue, and the arrival of NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.

Turnout at the polls is expected to be fairly heavy, especially for a Weehawken municipal election. Some experts have said that more than 65 percent of the registered voters have indicated that they will vote on Tuesday.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. at eight polling places covering 10 voting districts. Every registered voter has been mailed a sample ballot from the county clerk’s office. If there are any problems prior to the election, voters are encouraged to call the Weehawken Town Clerk’s office at (201) 319-6025.

The two slates are the incumbent Weehawken and You team, including Mayor Richard Turner and four longtime council members. They maintain that they have done nothing but improve the overall quality of life in the town by stabilizing taxes and initiating a major development plan that benefits the entire community.

The opposing Weehawken Initiative Now (WIN) team thinks the proposed waterfront development is too large, government too closed and the Park Avenue revitalization too late in coming.

The proposed Port Imperial South development will put 1,244 units of housing, a hotel, and up to five office buildings on the waterfront over the next decade.

The WIN ticket maintains that the proposed development is too dense and massive, that it will privatize the area and will destroy the fabric of the Hudson River waterfront forever.

The Weehawken and You incumbents, on the other hand, believe that the extensive project will help to bring more ratables, jobs and an economic boon to the town. They also note that some of the WIN candidates could have attended the dozens of town meetings pertaining to the development issue when it was up for consideration, but didn’t.

For past articles on the development and other issues, go to on www.weehawkenreporter.com and click the words “advanced search.”

Final days

Both teams have been rigorously campaigning in the final days before the election.

“Going into Tuesday, we feel very optimistic,” Turner said. “We’ve spoken with a lot of people and they have been responding favorably. We’ve met a lot of new residents, and everyone, the new and the old residents, has one thing in common across the spectrum: They have an appreciation for the community the way it is. They realize that it takes a lot to keep the community going.”

Dr. Ben Goldman, running at-large on the WIN ticket, also feels optimistic in the final few days of the campaign.

“We feel great and very optimistic,” Goldman said. “We have a huge amount of support for us and have been gaining a lot of momentum. I think more people will vote for us than voted in the last municipal election total. We feel we’ve made some major accomplishments, and I know the town is interested in what we have to say.”

Goldman and running mate Arielly Laszlo will face Turner and incumbent James Terlizzi in the at-large race.

Three-term incumbent Louis Ferullo will face newcomer Robert Terhune in the 1st Ward. Incumbent Rosemary Lavagnino faces WIN’s Karen Brady in the 2nd Ward, while long-time incumbent Robert Sosa locks horns with John Hubbard in the 3rd Ward.

Brady was busy campaigning door to door in her ward Thursday night. She also felt encouraged about the possibility of gaining election on Tuesday.

“I feel like we’ve done our job and got our message out there,” Brady said. “I feel very positive and I think the people have designated us as a viable option to the current administration. I feel very optimistic about our chances.”

A random poll of 30 prospective voters at the Tower Shopping Center last week revealed, however, that 24 of them were in favor of keeping the Turner. Many didn’t even know the candidates’ names, nor, in fact, those of the incumbent council members. But they recognized one name – namely the guy currently in charge.

“He’s done a fine job for us,” said Lucy Aviles. “I don’t see why we should want a change. We should all want to keep Turner.”

Goldman said that a different poll showed the WIN team ahead.

“We’re going to win,” Goldman said.

Turner said that his team is going full force over the final days.

“We’re taking nothing for granted,” Turner said. “We’re encouraging everyone to come out to exercise their right to vote. Everyone’s participation in the election is vital to the future of the town.”

It is possible that there could be a split of the tickets, where one or more member(s) of the opposition ticket might be able to knock off some of the incumbents. A split ticket could lead to interesting times in the years to come.


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