School elections mean all or nothing?

4/26/09

What the heck does it all mean?
It’s the day after the school board elections throughout Hudson County, and people are still scratching their heads, wondering what this all bodes for the future municipal elections.
Several sources say they overheard Michael Lenz at an election party after the very decisive victory of the Kids First reform school board ticket in Hoboken, forecasting a political revolution that will not merely topple the existing regime in Hoboken, but also those in Union City and Weehawken in 2010.
Lenz denied last week that he said anything about Union City and Weehawken or even believes it, but he said he certainly thinks it’s a good sign for Hoboken.
Tea leaf readers on every side are bent over the murky remains of the election trying to determine trends for the future.
Even those who were defeated in the school board election in Hoboken see some ray of hope in the fact that they didn’t lose quite as badly as they could have, and are already contemplating how they might do things differently next year.
Meanwhile, Hoboken must fill a political vacuum on May 12 when it holds its municipal elections, and desperate candidates who have already struggled to make sense of conflicting polls will now try to find some pattern that will propel their municipal tickets to victory.
Some of those supporting Councilman Peter Cammarano for mayor read signs of disunity and division in the reform camp, claiming that council members Dawn Zimmer and Beth Mason will split the reform vote in May and help propel Cammarano into a June runoff.
“They’re drawing from the same well of voters,” said a prominent Cammarano supporter. “We believe only one of them will be able to get into the runoff against Peter.”
But Zimmer supporters cannot help but be elated by the fact that a ticket they endorsed and worked hard to get elected, swept the school board elections and will have control of the school board after the reorganization meeting. While Kids First was critical of spending, they apparently supported the passing of the budget, and will not have to face a crisis of cutting the current budget. They can concentrate, they say, on making changes that will spend money more effectively.
Zimmer supporters believe Mason made a mistake by failing to endorse Kids First, but Mason people maintain that many Mason people did indeed support Kids First, while Mason chose not to make the school ticket a part of the mayoral campaign.
Election reports for mayoral candidates were filed just prior to the school election; unfortunately, Mason’s figures did not get posted, raising speculation as to why she failed to reveal the sources of her funding.
“We sent it, but it came back,” said one Mason campaign worker. “It had the right address. So we contacted ELEC and they said for us to copy the envelope and send it again.”

Jersey City tea leaves lean towards Healy

In Jersey City, the candidates for the board supported strongly by Mayor Jerramiah Healy posted a decisive victory, and if you believe in tea leaves, this could pose problems for challenges in the mayoral election. Although a recent editorial roundtable at the Hudson Reporter last week showed the five candidates running for mayor – Healy, L Harvey Smith, Phil Webb, Louis Manzo, and Dan Levin – all bring something slightly different to the election, leaving any one of them as a viable mayoral prospect if they can manage to get over the political hurdle of Healy’s massive financial advantage.
Spotting signs for challenging candidates over the last few weeks has been something akin to watching for UFOs: you might spot one here or there, amid the flurry of Healy signs. But as the old adage goes, signs don’t vote, people do.
Meanwhile, independent candidates for council in Jersey City such as Paul Catsandonis in Ward B are trying to get Healy’s candidates into a debate, and say that Phil Kenny – a powerful candidate backed by Healy as well as Freeholder Bill O’Dea – is stonewalling them.

Troyer’s back in Secaucus

The Secaucus school election produced the most mixed result of any in the county.
With no incumbents running, the race was up for grabs. But clearly Gary Riebesell seemed to get votes from both sides of the municipal feud, while Charles Krajewski III, from one of the most well-known families in town, was expected to win from the start. The surprise victor was the return of Tom Troyer, who seems to have been forgiven for running as a third candidate for council three years ago.
Theories for why Troyer won vary. Some believe schools being closed during the week of the election took away parent voters who might have supported another candidate. But some believe that voters simply picked candidates from each camp to support and since Troyer does not belong to any camp, they liked the idea of having him there.
Supporters of Councilman Michael Gonnelli in the November municipal election believe Mayor Dennis Elwell showed no strength. But Elwell people said Elwell stayed out of the race and did not call for his voters to come out.