After about two months, Hudson County View has profiled all 13 candidates running in the Hoboken City Council race, which take place one week from today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
• Agree on NJ Transit Rail Yard Development a top priority, disagree on almost everything else.
• Castellano has pointed to DeFusco previously supporting her, while DeFusco has gone after her voting record on matters such as voting against keeping Hoboken Unviersity Medical Center open in 2011 – see some of their exchanges at the most recent Council debate.
• DeFusco has relied on constant pressure, a frantic pace in the streets and the support of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, while Castellano has a healthy group of longtime supporters in the ward and her cousin, 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo, has been helping to try and recruit new voters.
Peter Biancamano vs. Tiffanie Fisher vs. Bonnie Murray
• Biancamano, a school board trustee, has a family that is well-known in the neighborhood and has the full support of the Russo contingency. Also has dangerous marksman Pablo Fonseca, who is undefeated in Hudson County elections, running his ground operation.
• Fisher, endorsed by Zimmer, is expecting the support of the Hudson Tea condo building, both because that’s where she lives and since she has openly opposed the Monarch project.
• Murray, the wife of former unsuccessful board of education trustee Brian Murray, has also spoken out against the Monarch project and has promoted herself as the only true independent candidate in the race.
Michael Russo running unopposed
• Councilman Michael Russo is left dancing by himself next week, as developer Frank Raia was removed from the ballot last month, citing health concerns. However, as previously noted, Russo will be mainly focusing his attention getting Castellano re-elected.
Tim Occhipinti (incumbent) vs. Dana Wefer vs. Ruben Ramos
• Occhipinti rematches Ramos after a 2013 mayoral race that saw Zimmer win by a comfortable margin. In this 4th Ward race, Zimmer is replaced by Wefer, the chair of the Hoboken Housing Authority.
• Both Occhipinti and Wefer have went after Ramos’ track record as a councilman under the Mayor David Roberts administration, while Ramos says he’s proud of what he accomplished as both councilman and state Assemblyman.
•Ramos and Occhipinti are both counting on a strong showing from residents of the housing authority, while Wefer has been pounding the pavement with the mayor in hopes of getting new voters to come out and vote for some new blood. Additionally, Occhipinti holds a sizable advantage when it comes to finances.
Peter Cunningham (incumbent) vs. Eduardo Gonzalez
• A more technical battle in the sense that Cunningham has supported endeavors such as bonding and litigation (in certain circumstances) for what he feels is the sake of the city’s greater good, while Gonzalez has continually stressed “cooperation and compromise” rather than “taxing their way out of tough situations.”
• Cunningham benefits from former Senate Majority Leader Bernie Kenny residing in the ward, as well as Zimmer’s endorsement: the mayor has a strong core of supporters in Ward 5. He has also referenced Gonzalez’s record on the Hoboken Housing Authority as evidence of his fiscal irresponsibility.
• Gonzalez, the president of the Elysian Charter School board, will have some built-in votes based on families that attend that school and are happy with their new facility. Has also been able to keep up with Cunningham on the fundraising front: both report a little over $12,000 at their disposal (though Cunningham is part of a joint committee.
Jen Giattino (incumbent) vs. Carmelo Garcia
• Arguably the race with the most hatred, as the Giattino and the Zimmer team would love to oust Garcia from Hoboken politics for good. Meanwhile, Garcia, an outgoing Assemblyman after falling out of favor with the Democratic party, wants to show Zimmer he’s in it for the long haul.
• With Garcia getting his campaign going by claiming that Giattino has been a no show in Ward 6, an anonymous mailer recently went after Garcia’s record as executive director of the housing authority. Garcia was ousted from the position over a year ago.
• The termination spawned a lawsuit which remains in the courts and Garcia said he was “vindicated” by a massive email link that showed Stan Grossbard, Zimmer’s husband, communicating with HHA board members – although some of his suggestions appeared to fall on deaf ears.
• Garcia has predictably gone with a blitzkrieg, take no prisoners style campaign, but Giattino isn’t taking him lightly, establishing a strong presence in the streets and a willingness to engage when necessary.