Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco said he’s “honored to be the mouthpiece for a vibrant, new Hoboken” while expressing confidence in winning the November mayoral race.
“Like anything I’ve ever done, it’s about the community. It’s about bringing people together: whether you’re born here, you just got here yesterday, it’s about giving everybody a voice and making sure that voice is heard,” DeFusco said.
“We spent the last nine years having a mayor that has good intentions, but has only listened to a small group of advisors around her and I believe it’s time for a change.”
DeFusco spoke to Hudson County View during a fundraiser at McSwiggan’s Pub last night, where he was happy to mingle with a diverse crowd of over 100 supporters.
After months of speculation, the upstart councilman announced his bid for mayor about three weeks ago.
For some in the Mayor Dawn Zimmer administration, his candidacy signifies a knife in the back for the incumbent, who endorsed him in the November 2015 council race.
However, when asked about that dynamic, DeFusco said there was no falling out, explaining that his candidacy is about “expanding a complimentary agenda” that includes preserving historic neighborhoods, improving the Hoboken terminal and repairing Court Street.
DeFusco has been bullish on turning the Hoboken Terminal into an area that could rival New York’s Chelsea Market for the past two years and mentioned fixing up Court Street during an interview back in February.
“I’m still looking forward to working with the mayor through this campaign and being an active representative for the 1st Ward, but I believe that the Office of the Mayor needs to be somebody that knows how to communicate with everybody – especially the city council.”
DeFusco indicated that although they may not speak up, there are other members of the council that would like to have a more active voice in this administration.
Based on that, DeFusco said that if elected mayor, he will make sure the city budget has the funds necessary to provide each council candidate an aide and a City Hall office.
While the mayoral race already has four declared candidates, Zimmer, DeFusco, Karen Nason and Ronald Bautista, the councilman still believes he’s the most qualified for the job.
“May the best man win – or woman win. At the end of the day, it’s about the best ideas. We have an apparatus set up that is a professional campaign, we’re a forward looking campaign. We’ve been knocking on doors, we’ve been reaching out to voters, we’ve trying to unify many of the formerly divided part of town.”
When asked about Zimmer’s recent win streak, which includes last year’s board of education race and a blowout in last week’s Democratic committee election, DeFusco was a bit dismissive – crediting the power of the Hudson County Democratic Organization line.
“First of all, I congratulate every Democratic committee candidate because running for office on the hyperlocal level is not an easy thing to do … The line of the Hudson County Democratic Organization is a powerful line and I give the credit to the line more so than Mayor Zimmer,” he said.
“I give the credit more to [2nd Ward] Councilwoman [Tiffanie] Fisher, who everyday was out there tying to connect the dots and get people activated.”
DeFusco added that he did not back either line in the committee race since he did not want to support one group of neighbors or friends over another, also claiming that such a race showed further division among the Democratic party.
Officials in attendance included Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15), 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, former Councilman Tony Soares, Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council President Pat Kelleher, President Academy Bus Vice President of Real Estate David Lehmkuhl and former Hoboken Community Development Director Fred Bado.