Although politics may be Hoboken’s favorite sport, until recently, most people seemed to be more concerned with finding a parking spot.
That changed this year when taxpayers heard they would get a 47 percent hike in their taxes. This is enough to get anyone’s mind off petty troubles such as war and recession.
One criterion for who should inherit all the troubles associated with becoming the next mayor is whether or not he or she voted to pass the municipal budget last year. The tax increase, according to one group, is a result of irresponsible councilpeople who decided that a state takeover would substitute for a good campaign. When the council did not pass last year’s budget on time, the state came in to run Hoboken’s finances this year, and it ordered taxes raised.
At the heart of Councilman Peter Cammarano’s campaign for mayor is that he wanted to pass a budget with a modest increase, thereby averting a massive tax increase.
Councilman Dawn Zimmer has taken significant heat for abstaining on the newest budget two weeks ago, since she believed the council did not have enough information to make an intelligent decision.
This will be used against her in the court of public opinion, since spin doctors are less concerned with intelligent choices as finding someone to blame for the morass the city is in. After all, they contend, someone has to be responsible for this mess, and each spin doctor for each candidate is blaming the other candidate.
This week, we learned that the actual increase may not have been 47 percent after all, but 23 percent. But hold on, the spin doctors on all sides are tossing out figures to the wind.
Several supporters of Zimmer claim the tax increase was still 47 percent and that the recent public statements simply claim that the increase this quarter is 23 percent higher than last year at this time.
If politics wasn’t confusing enough!
Poll, more polls and potholders
Although an outside group recently did a poll to evaluate Cammarano’s standing in the current mayoral election against Zimmer and Councilmember Beth Mason, the biggest purchase of his campaign outside of literature has been potholders with his name on it.
The Cammarano campaign is relying on “gut instinct” rather than opinion polls to keep his campaign in gear. His supporters claim the other candidates are afraid of him and that a campaign of misinformation and misleading push polls has been underway to chase away voters and financial donors from his campaign.
Recent results of a Zimmer poll – which is leaking out from her campaign – show that Cammarano’s numbers have improved from those given in other less reliable polls, such as those done by Councilman Michael Russo and for Mason earlier this year.
Several key Zimmer supporters believe Cammarano and Zimmer will face off in a runoff election in June, not Mason and Zimmer.
Cammarano supporters say polls are designed to do several things: encourage supporters, discourage supporters of opposing candidates, and attract donations to your candidate and distract them from others. The Zimmer and Mason campaigns are so well-funded that they fear losing campaign contributions. But their continued harping on Cammarano is designed to keep him impoverished.
Cammarano supporters predict he will get most of the votes from Old Hoboken now that he has Frank Raia supporting him.
While Zimmer may be getting a lot of those voters defecting from the Mason camp, Zimmer doesn’t have the ties she needs to bring in Old Hoboken.
Zimmer will need to get a lot of votes out of the 5th Ward through her council candidate, Carol Marsh.
Cammarano will likely need to take most of the votes from the 3rd and 4th Wards if he expects to be mayor.
Mason, meanwhile, will need to generate a powerful outpouring of support from her 2nd Ward.
Why Chiappone couldn’t win
As powerful as state Sen. Sandra Cunningham is, she got boxed in when it came to helping save Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone.
Cunningham’s ace in the hole this year is the fact that Jerramiah Healy is running for reelection in Jersey City, and that he needs to keep her from supporting any of his rivals.
Cunningham, however, could not support L. Harvey Smith or Louis Manzo – the two leading candidates against Healy – and so she had two choices: to support Healy, or stay silent and support no one.
This was politically disastrous for Chiappone because his political survival depended almost entirely on Cunningham’s ability to protect him.
Cunningham is still bitter over a Manzo campaign against her for the state Senate two years ago. She also still has bitter feelings against L. Harvey Smith.
“She wouldn’t support either one of them,” Chiappone said.
Newly elected Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith demanded to have a choice in the Assembly candidates, promising a primary battle at the same time as Healy’s reelection as mayor.
Healy decided Cunningham could hurt him less than offending the Bayonne mayor. As a result, Chiappone was given a choice: keep his Bayonne council seat and have his Assembly seat ripped away from him in a primary challenge, or get Healy support for the Assembly by giving up his council seat.
Some of Chiappone’s supporters feel betrayed by his choice to give up the council seat, warning that Healy and the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) cannot be trusted and that they will oppose Chiappone two years from now when the Assembly seat comes up, and Healy will feel less pressure to compromise.
Chiappone, however, said he cannot afford to look too far down the political road.
Although Cunningham may come out for Healy in the end as part of the agreement, Manzo and L. Harvey Smith will likely see a boost of votes, and the candidate who can garners the most out of Cunningham’s camp may have the privilege of taking on Healy in a runoff election.