Predictions for Hoboken council races

This year’s Hoboken City Council election became complicated when political powers from other parts of Hudson County decided this was a good place to get some candidates from. So with former Councilwoman Carol Marsh facing off against Councilman Rubin Ramos for state Assembly in the 33rd District this June, Hoboken municipal elections find themselves rich with out of town campaign workers.

Ramos is expected to open his headquarters on May 6 at Second and Washington streets in Hoboken. The idea behind this is to create support for state Senate and Assembly candidates in the primary by supporting local candidates in the municipal elections.

As a result, traditional campaigning went out the window.

Part of this has to do with lack of political leadership from Mayor Dave Roberts, who in the past might have been a force on one side or another.

As it is, every candidate in the local election has to pick and choose, hoping that siding with one force or the other in the June state legislative race can help them win their ward council election in May.

Yet as powerful an influence as the legislative race is, local candidates will win or lose based on how well they pull out their base.

This means Theresa Castellano will likely win the 1st Ward without a runoff. Some political observers believe Beth Mason will narrowly defeat the strong challenge of retired Fire Chief Richard Tremitiedi in the 2nd Ward, although a strong write-in for a third candidate could make this race close enough to warrant a runoff. Challenged by Frank Raia, Councilman Michael Russo is expected to win on the first ballot in the 3rd Ward. Some believe Dawn Zimmer and incumbent Councilman Chris Campos will have to face each other again in a June runoff election for the 4th Ward. Campos is expected to do well among the strong Latino population, while Zimmer – with her potent ads featuring the recent flooding – is expected to draw well from the more affluent in the 4th Ward.

Despite strong support, Peter Cunningham may well end up in a runoff election with Scott DeLea in the 5th Ward.

Some observers believe Incumbent Councilman Angelo “Nino” Giacchi will face off against Thomas Foley a June runoff in the 6th Ward.

Looking for Sandra

Only a handful of people expected Sandra Bolden Cunningham to show up at the Loew’s Theater on April 27. But even those who expected her there were not surprised when she didn’t.

Many believe the televised debate with her opponent Assembly Louis Manzo would only help doom her campaign for state Senate in the 31st District.

Poll numbers from both camps appear to show Manzo in the lead, and since the debate had all of the feel of a political trap, she was perhaps wise in avoiding it.

One political observer said Cunningham would be crazy to do the debate, although Pat O’Meila, the event’s organizer, said Cunningham’s staff agreed to do the debate.

“It was only the time we were working out,” he said.

Cunningham’s people say they didn’t agree to the debate in the first place.

Another political observer believes Cunningham will pick and choose which debates she’ll do, avoiding those that look like traps or won’t benefit her campaign. This means that a move by Mike Ransom to get her to appear on Bayonne public access TV will also likely fail since her campaign cannot expect to get a lot of votes there. In the 2003 Democratic Primary, Sandra’s husband, then-Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, garnered only about 1,500 from Bayonne in his upset victory over L. Harvey Smith – and even that was considered a good showing attributed to his background in the U.S. Marines and criminal justice. Without such roots, Sandra Cunningham is expected to get far less.

A bad sign for Cunningham is the less than enthusiastic reception at the Martin Luther King Parade on MLK Drive during the last weekend in April. Manzo got a very positive reception. Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop, perhaps the most politically courted person in Hudson County, was marching with Cunningham. Although Cunningham appeared in Bayonne to open her political headquarters, she will likely duck anyone’s attempt to get her to sit down with Manzo and discuss issues. This may not be true for any appearances in Greenville or other sections of Jersey City where she can expect a strong turnout.

While the Cunningham ticket has better name recognition in Bayonne with Bayonne Councilman Anthony Chiappone and L. Harvey Smith as her runningmates, this may change as the Manzo team makes frequent public appearances.

A meet-and-greet at the newly opened Broadway headquarters of Manzo team brought out political heavyweights from around the county, but more importantly, also brought out local voters.

One estimate claimed more than 200 people came to the headquarters on April 25.

“We had a great turnout,” said Nicholas Chiaravalloti, who is running for state Assembly on a ticket headed by Manzo.

Chiaravalloti said the event resulted in nearly 10 new voters being registered.

Although not as well known in political circles at their opponents, Chiarvalloti and his Assembly runningmate Shelia Newton-Moses hope to win voter support by meeting people and talking to them.

This is critical in an election where party lines may matter less than name recognition. This year, voters are expected to pick and choose candidates more than in the past when they could be relied upon to simply run down a single party’s column.

Troyer is on his own

With voters picking and choosing the candidates, no state or county seat can be predicted except perhaps in the 32nd District, where incumbent state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco is expected to retain his seat against challenger Sean Connors.

Tom Troyer, who recently lost his bid for re-election to the school board, is running on the Connors ticket to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Vincent Prieto.

Troyer is not expected to do well, partly because many of the independents in Secaucus are backing Prieto. The Connors-Troyer ticket, part of the Democrats for Hudson County slate, backed by State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, has a serious obstacle to overcome in Secaucus.

The Take Back Secaucus party, which won two out of three council seats last November against a slate backed by Mayor Dennis Elwell, have some close ties to Sacco. This is the reason why Councilman Mike Gonnelli would not run for a state legislative office when approached by Stack.

Troyer, who has always been an outsider, even to other outsiders, angered the Take Back Secaucus team when he refused to drop out of the November council race. Many saw him as a spoiler for Elwell’s team, although he claims he was not.

While some see Troyer’s defeat at the school board as an angry reaction from the Take Back Secaucus team, others claim Troyer simply stopped being the only alternative once Take Back Secaucus became a viable political party.

Such observers also claim that the Elwell team’s sweep in the school board elections was not an ill omen for Take Back Secaucus.

“We wanted to take politics out of the school election,” one observer said. “That’s what we did.”

Email to Al Sullivan


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