A few members of the Hoboken Democratic Committee are adamantly against a potential mayoral run of Council President Jen Giattino, who one committeeman described as “a Trump-voting Republican.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“URGENT!!! Let’s work together to stop a Trump-voting Republican from becoming the Mayor of Hoboken,” Mitch Fagen, the third vice chair of the HDC, wrote on his Facebook page late Saturday night.
“Jen Giattino is a Trump supporting and voting Republican. I personally think that Trump is a monster and a bigot, and that anyone who supported him is basically either evil or stupid- there’s no third possibility.”
Fagen goes on to say that “it’s not okay to support Trump” because that is equivalent to accepting “naked bigotry.”
“Electing a Trump voter to lead Hoboken is simply not acceptable, and does not reflect our values as a proudly diverse community. It doesn’t matter how nice she is in person, or if she has allied with other Democrats on the Council on certain local issues. She failed a crucial test of character,” he continued.
Several sources closed to Giattino, who asked not to be identified since they did not want to get involved with the reform group infighting, said she did not vote for Trump and supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Republican primary.
Fagen’s Facebook thrashing came after 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham announced over the weekend that they were not ready to endorse Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla for mayor – even though incumbent Dawn Zimmer had already done so.
Fagen, who has endorsed Bhalla, also accused the duo of “conceding to bigotry” by supporting “a white Republican” mayoral candidate over a Sikh one.
Additionally, Amy Sommer and Steward Mader, a married couple from the 5th Ward elected to the HDC for the first time on June 6th, sent a letter to Fisher and Cunningham yesterday expressing concerns of a Democratic committee supporting a Republican.
“We’re concerned. It seems like we’ve gone from a strong sense of unity and momentum surrounding the June 6 election to what suddenly feels like confusion and a growing risk of disunity among the reform community,” the couple wrote.
“We believe it is entirely reasonable for Mayor Zimmer, who has intimate, firsthand experience with the challenges and demands of the mayor’s office, to recommend someone who she believes is best equipped to be the next occupant of that office.”
Citing the 2016 presidential race as a worst case scenario of what happens when political communities are divided, said supporting someone like Giattino could create a similar outcome in Hoboken.
The letter concluded by questioning how the leader of a local Democratic committee could support a Republican mayoral candidate, even if the election is non-partisan.
“We are dismayed to read your supportive words for a registered republican only days after we elected you to chair the Democratic Committee on a platform dedicated to electing progressive democrats,” the couple wrote.
“We need to pour all of our energy into the single goal of electing progressive democrats, and we cannot risk undermining our own values by being split at such a critical time for our city and country.”
In an email sent to the Democratic committee late this morning, which was obtained by Hudson County View, Fisher responded to the criticisms lobbed at Giattino.
“Although some of them were respectful, constructive and/or appreciative, others were much less, contained information that was untrue, and included, among other things, referring to my friend and fellow councilwoman Jen Giattino as a white supremacist and a bigot, saying they would prefer to vote for a corrupt Democrat than a Republican, and calling me evil and a racist,” she wrote.
“Jen Giattino is a model citizen and public servant, a progressive Republican and a good person. She overlaps more than less with both Mayor Zimmer and Ravi, who are also my friends. And not that anyone has a right to know who she, or any of us voted for, she did not vote for Trump,” Fisher continued.
“There is not one elected official in our town who has done more on her own for those with less. She stands up for people who need to be stood up for. And to even insinuate that she is a bigot is reprehensible.”
She also took umbrage with anyone believing a “corrupt Democrat” would be a better mayoral candidate than any Republican, given that the whole purpose of the reform movement has been to promote honest, accessible and transparent government.
Giattino did not respond to inquiries seeking comment.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with comments from 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.