Belfiore withdraws; may support Romano

Perry Belfiore made it official this week. He will withdraw from the Democratic primary for freeholder in June, and will likely throw his support behind Freeholder Anthony Romano
Belfiore’s move will avoid a conflict among what some call “Old Hoboken” and allow Romano to consolidate his resources in an attempt to beat Phil Cohen, who has the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), the Jersey City Democratic Organization, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Belfiore said his withdrawal has a lot to do with his employment and a recent opportunity that will require him to work at a place more remote from Hoboken than his current site.
“If I had the support of the political machine and a lot of money, I would have stayed in the race,” he said.
While he has spoken with both Romano and Cohen, Belfiore said he believes Romano has a better grasp of the county tax situation, and the impact of the revaluation has had on causing taxes to rise in Hoboken.
County budget tax revenue is based on the value of each of the 12 municipalities, and those whose value rises most in the previous year pay a larger proportion.
“It’s not just spending,” Belfiore said.
His move avoids a repeat of last November’s three-way race in Hoboken in which the anti-Zimmer voters were split between two tickets of candidates (led by Ruben Ramos Jr. and Tim Occhipinti) and allowed the Zimmer ticket to get back into office with less than 50 percent of the overall vote.
While District 5 still will be a three-way race with Rohena Santiago, of Jersey City Heights, challenging Romano and Cohen, the real race will be between Romano – who has the strong support of labor unions – and Cohen, who has the backing of the political machine.

Troyer loses in Secaucus BOE race

Once among the most verbal of administration critics in Secaucus, Tom Troyer was defeated again in his attempt to retake his seat on the Secaucus Board of Education.
A force to be reckoned with for nearly four decades, Troyer has come onto some hard political times lately in his attempt to serve as loyal opposition to Mayor Michael Gonnelli’s Take Back Secaucus movement.
Troyer, who cut his teeth in local politics in the 1970s, came into his own in the late 1980s when he raised questions about the upgrade to a local sewerage plant that eventually led to the arrest and conviction of two officials for bid rigging.
During the administrations of mayors, Anthony Just and Dennis Elwell, Troyer’s voice was often heard in opposition.
Many saw his political downfall coming when he ran for Town Council in 2007 as a third candidate in a race that featured and up-and-coming Gonnelli.
The move put him at odds with Gonnelli, who eventually became mayor. Although Troyer successfully returned to the school board briefly, he was driven out by Gonnelli-backed candidates and has twice unsuccessfully sought to regain his seat.

The ‘Don’ comes to WNY

Donald Scarinci will soon lead the legal staff in West New York, a move that is part of an internal restructuring underway.
Scarinci & Hollenbeck represents a host of government agencies and municipalities across the state. This move appears to be part of an effort to help restore confidence in the administration of Mayor Felix Roque. Although elected in 2011 with a clear mandate from the public, Roque has had a tough couple of years, particularly politically. Part of this was due to lack of political experience among the people around him.
Scarinci, however, will help bolster some of the administrative things that are necessary to have a functioning government.
“We’ve been doing this so long and for so many towns, we know what we’re doing,” Scarinci said.
Although the ordinance appointing his firm was only passed in early April, Scarinci has been on hand, reviewing meetings and looking over the operations of government. Several key people in Town Hall said “The Don’s” presence has already made a positive difference in the morale.

Who won the Bayonne candidates debate?

Mayor Mark Smith met his challengers James Davis and Anthony Zanowic in a live and lively debate last week that still has many people buzzing. Hosted by the Bayonne Rotary Club, the debate covered a range of questions developed by the staff of the Hudson Reporter. Whereas the Hudson Reporter’s own online debate (which can be found at covered some of the overarching issues such as teachers’ contracts and taxes, the Rotary debate dealt with more bread-and-butter topics to test candidates’ range of knowledge and their ability to think on their feet.
Smith – whose staff had grilled him beforehand with about 40 questions they thought might be asked – had a good handle on many of these day-to-day issues, partly because his administration deals with them. But his staff later admitted that more than half of the13 questions asked were a surprise. Davis and Smith became locked in a verbal fistfight that spilled over into print a week after the debate concluded.
As in the online debate, Davis excelled in the personal questions and came off as extremely human. While Zanowic did not seem to do as well on the stage as he did in the online debate, he scored significantly in raising questions about allegedly squandered revenues from the former Military Ocean Terminal sales and the inability by the Smith administration to hold down taxes.
Behind the scenes, all sides are trying to read the voter tea leaves to see where the public sentiment falls. Smith has taken the high road with a host of announcements of new development and positive accomplishments. Davis’s campaign largely relies on the perceived failings of the Smith Administration such as rising taxes (but not this year), lack of a teachers’ contract and other like issues. Zanowic appears to be trying to balance negative with positive, offering some solutions to what his campaign thinks the Smith administration has not yet done.
But underneath it all, real anger is seething, especially between Smith and Davis, whose campaigns are allegedly responsible for negative flyers, letters to voters, and even a questionable newspaper.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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