The early bird catches the worm?

Even for Hoboken, April contemplation of a November election is considered early. But with control of the City Council riding on nearly every election, even April may not be early enough.
Six of the nine council seats are up for re-election in November. Currently, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has the support of the majority.
Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti has made it clear that he is not going to be run out of town, despite a likely challenge from former Assemblyman/Councilman Ruben Ramos.
If Ramos does challenge Occhipinti, then the 4th Ward will become a miniature repeat of the 2013 mayoral election, and will force anti-Zimmer people to choose sides – again.
Ramos and Occhipinti ran for mayor in 2013, splitting the anti-Zimmer vote and allowing Zimmer to win and bring her slate of candidates along with her.
Rumors suggest that Ramos is so determined to get even with Occhipinti for the 2013 loss that he might even be willing to make a deal with Zimmer, and apparently wants to settle scores with other anti-Zimmer people, such as Councilwoman Terry Castellano. Ramos is rumored to be seeking a candidate to run against Castellano as well.
All this plays into Zimmer’s hands. Her candidates are in a strong position in both the 5th and 6th Wards, where Peter Cunningham and Jennifer Giattino are expected to face weak opposition. Giattino, who represents the 6th Ward, perhaps the most affluent part of the city, took exception to this column’s portrait of her as un-sympathetic to the poor and offered to allow this reporter to accompany her when she goes out to feed the homeless. This is to put her on notice that I accept the invitation.
The continual bickering among anti-Zimmer people has already cost them significant clout. Councilman Michael Russo lost his power as a swing vote when Zimmer retook the council in 2013.
Now it appears that Zimmer is poised to take even firmer control of the council. So this becomes a race of every man or woman for themselves.
This causes problems for a number of people, for example Freeholder Anthony Romano, and others who are trying to build coalitions for the mayoral election in 2017.

Mason and Clinton: perfect together?

Rumors suggest that Councilwoman Beth Mason may have higher ambitions than seeking reelection in Hoboken’s 2nd Ward. Mason may be seeking to hitch her political wagon to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
While most of Hudson County is expected to get behind Clinton, Mason’s early hop on the bandwagon might well earn her a job on the federal level and save her the embarrassment of being beaten in a municipal election – at least as viewed by Zimmerites, who have made Mason into a symbol of all that is wrong in the Hoboken political world.

An ironic twist in North Bergen

Larry Wainstein, who is challenging North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco in May, got a dose of his own medicine last week when the Sacco people sent around a truck broadcasting a large screen video attacking Wainstein-backed Board of Education candidate Jose Canonico, who has a criminal record.
Wainstein had parked a similar truck outside Schuetzen Park during a Sacco event last year, so this is more than a good joke pulled by the Sacco team.
But the video used Wainstein’s name so much viewers might have confused just who was running for Board of Education, and who exactly committed the alleged crimes the video was offering up as fact.
The driver of the video truck apparently stopped for coffee and let the video run over and over outside the Coach House Diner for about a half hour. It warned voters that the candidate with such an alleged record should not be allowed around children.
Oddly enough, those most fascinated by the video were neighborhood kids, who gathered on the sidewalk to watch.

The next generation of Bayonne politicians?

What should have been a relatively simple change of candidates the 31st Assembly district may actually become a test of strength for the next mayoral election in Bayonne.
Bayonne Mayor James Davis is under pressure from inside and outside the organization that got him elected in 2014. This may leave room for a likely challenge in 2018. The two people at this point most likely in a position to challenge him are the current assemblyman for the 31st District, Jason O’Donnell, and the man who is seeking to replace O’Donnell in the Assembly, Nicholas Chiaravalloti.
By not running for reelection against overwhelming odds, O’Donnell gets to rebuild the political organization of former Mayor Mark Smith. Although Chiaravalloti tells people he is focused on taking his place in the Assembly, this primary tests his viability to become the next mayor.

West New York forum may not have Roque

With three full tickets running in the May 12 municipal election in West New York along with several independents, voters will have a wide choice.
But a proposed forum for candidates that is to be moderated by the New Jersey League of Women Voters has been cast in a shadow by Mayor Felix Roque’s ticket.
A statement for the forum’s organizers tried to dispel what they claim is misinformation: “The idea of a candidates’ forum was not crafted as a new idea [by] either Hope for the Future or the Future is Now slates,” the statement said, referring to the two tickets that oppose Roque. “As you may recall, Freeholder Chairman Jose Munoz requested the same when he ran against Caridad Rodriguez last year in the 2014 freeholder race and was quickly denied the opportunity of demonstrating exactly what his opponent didn’t know or didn’t do on behalf of the citizens of West New York as their elected representative, other than support Roque. It appears the norm for anyone associated with Roque not to engage in an open candidates’ forum. Could this year’s denial be for the same reason? Is there much that remains unknown and the present administration prefers to keep it behind the curtain?”
Organizers for the Roque campaign claim that the forum – which is scheduled for April 30 – conflicts with already established political events, including a fundraiser.
Pablo Fonseca, campaign manager, said that he is trying to work out an arrangement that will allow one or more candidates from the Roque ticket to take part.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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