Mayoral race update

Ramos overtakes Zimmer in the money game; donation sources questioned

Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, so far the only challenger to Mayor Dawn Zimmer in the upcoming November mayoral election, has overcome Zimmer in fundraising, according to the most recent campaign finance reports released by the state Election Law Enforcement Committee (ELEC). The reports, which were filed on July 15, show Ramos’ Vision for Hoboken slate as having raised $73,880 to Zimmer’s $69,605.
The last round of ELEC reports, filed in April, had shown Ramos at a significant disadvantage, though he claimed at the time that his next financial disclosures would be “much more impressive.” Zimmer is still considered the favorite in the election.
Ramos said last week that he believes he’s gaining ground.
“There are lots of people I’ve formed relationships with over the years, people I’ve worked with on a daily basis, who want to see us succeed,” he said. “It’s obviously not easy going against an incumbent. Zimmer has the power of City Hall behind her, so it’s vital that we fundraise as much as possible so that we can get our message out to the public.”
Zimmer responded last week, “My focus has always been on doing what is best for the people of Hoboken, which is why Hoboken residents have consistently supported my campaigns financially.”

“Neither Ruben or Zimmer have the material for a chief executive.” – First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano
Zimmer’s funds are strictly for her reelection, while Ramos’ total will be shared with the three candidates for at-large city council seats also running on the Vision for Hoboken slate: Joe Mindak, Laura Miani and Eduardo Gonzalez. Zimmer is set to reveal her own slate at a fundraiser on Aug. 14, but those candidates will fund their own campaigns.
Zimmer would not comment last week about who her slate will include.

Questionable donations?

Asked about their opponents’ ELEC filings, both candidates had criticisms to offer.
(Candidates only have to report donations of over $300 on the state documents. Also, “pay to play” laws limit how much contractors can donate, and individuals and businesses also have limits.)
Many of Ramos’ contributions were donated from sources outside of Hoboken, which is legal. However, opponents have criticized Ramos’ heavy out-of-town support. Zimmer said in her fundraiser invitation in June that “while Ramos is focusing on trying to get politicians from outside Hoboken to ‘support’ his campaign, I believe, as I always have, that Hoboken elections should and will be decided by Hoboken’s own residents.”
She continued those criticisms last week, saying the fact that she has received more large donations from within Hoboken “is a reflection of our differing priorities.”
Ramos’ donations on his July ELEC report come from as far as San Francisco ($500 from T.Y. Lin International, the engineering firm that built the Hudson Bergen Light Rail) and Delaware ($2,000 from AdvoServ, a behavioral healthcare provider for special needs students in New Jersey). Ramos also collected donations from several of his colleagues in the state Assembly.
Last week, he said that many of the out-of-town donations came from former Hoboken residents. In June, he also said he wouldn’t turn away support from anyone.
“I feel very fortunate to have been able to craft relationships outside of Hoboken during my six years in the state legislature,” he said. “If people from outside Hoboken are going to support me, I’m not going to turn them away.”
Ramos also listed an architecture firm ($1,000) from Mountainside, and a law firm ($300) from North Bergen.
Ramos, critiquing Zimmer’s ELEC report, raised questions over some donations she received from employees of firms which currently are under contract with the city. Former State Sen. Bernard Kenny, of the law firm Florio & Kenny, and James Maraziti, of the law firm Maraziti, Falcon, & Healy, donated $450 each, leading Ramos to call them “questionable.”
Zimmer said that that any contributions from city vendors in excess of $300 would be refunded, though the refunds were not reflected on the July ELEC filing.
Zimmer said she hopes the election will focus on “important issues to the city of Hoboken.”

Castellano not running

Rumors have been consistently circulating naming Chairman of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders Anthony Romano and 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano might also run. Romano said recently that he’s still undecided as to whether he will enter the race, but Castellano last week put to rest any rumors, saying that she will not run. (See Al Sullivan’s political column for more.)
She also said she will not support Zimmer or Ramos. Instead, she will concentrate on her own reelection as a council person in two years.
“I don’t think either of the two people running for mayor has leadership qualities I can support,” she said. “Neither of them have the materials of a chief executive.”

Dean DeChiaro may be reached at

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