All 5 Hoboken incumbents win re-election, while Bhalla-backed candidate takes 5th ward seat


All five of the incumbent Hoboken council members have won re-election, with newcomer Phil Cohen, who was backed by Mayor Ravi Bhalla, taking the 5th ward seat, according to preliminary election tallies.

By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View

The results, while not entirely a defeat for Bhalla’s council slate, do represent a significant loss for his camp.

By running a candidate in all of the city’s six wards except the 3rd, the administration hoped to consolidate support on the council dais for the mayor, where he faces fierce opposition and has only two staunch allies in council members-at-large Emily Jabbour and Jim Doyle.

But the incumbents beat back challengers from the ticket: in the 1st Ward, incumbent councilman Michael DeFusco bested Migdalia Pagan-Milano by a 2-to-1 margin; Council President Jennifer Giattino, in the 6th ward, pulled away with the victory, beating Cristin Cricco-Powell and Frank Rosner with just over 51% of the vote; and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher defeated challenger Nora Martinez-DeBenedetto, winning 872 votes to Martinez-DeBenedetto’s 760.

Additionally, 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos won by more than double against Ron Bautista and Lisa Sprengle, respecively.

All of Bhalla’s candidates were also endorsed by former Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

“With an unprecedented interference of a super PAC, and two mayors of Hoboken against me. .. we showed them that an independent voice with a vision for the future is what Hoboken wants,” DeFusco said at his victory party.

“It’s tough to run a slate against experienced incumbents,” Fisher said. “They all put up good fights in every single ward, [butp what this means is that people are happy with the environment and they want to see a continuation of all of the work [the council] has done together.”

Nevertheless, it was not entirely bad news for Bhalla’s team. Phil Cohen, formerly as member of the city’s zoning board, won the Councilman Peter Cunningham’s seat – the incumbent didn’t seek re-election and endorsed Tim Crowell to succeed him.

“I’m very proud of the accomplishment and it couldn’t of happened without my great team (and) without Mayor Bhalla’s support,” Cohen said. “I’m looking forward to providing new leadership for the 5th ward, to serving my neighbors and being a responsive councilman.”

Cohen won with 52 percent of the vote. His challengers, Crowell and Nicola Maganuco, garnered 21% and 25% of the vote, respectively.

Additionally, Cricco-Powell lost by less than 100 votes on the machines and was not ready to concede on Tuesday night.

The Mile Square City’s election was heated from the very beginning and included huge amounts of money spent by outside interest groups.

NJ Community Initiatives earmarked $19,420 towards campaign literature for Pagan-Milano; New Jersey Democracy in Action, a non-profit, sent out an attack mailer against Cohen; and Stronger Foundations spent money on Facebook ads for Pagan-Milano, Martinez-Debenedetto, Russo, Cohen and Cricco-Powell.

Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_

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  1. Nora was very gracious in her loss. Gained new respect for her. GA squawking about how there’s no mandate for Jen or Tiffanie. Funny, they both pulled much bigger percentages than Ravi did. Guess GA suddenly realizes that Ravi doesn’t have anything close to a mandate.

    • Nora is a good person, sadly Ravi, Dawn, Stan and Vijay are nasty.
      Let this be a lesson to Tiffany and Jen that the public wants action, not just delaying votes and over analyzing.

      Ravi in his lust to replace Sires suffered another anemic result.

      Congrats to Phil Cohen, don’t be so sure he’s a Bhalla puppet- Phil was a great ZB member.

    • None of it seen in the sore losers of 2017. You will see fine examples of losing with grace in 2019. The best men/women do not always win. Congratulations to all candidates.

      • I guess hindsight isn’t 2020. I have no idea when MDF conceded nor when he congratulated the winner, but I do recall that MDF, who’s not my favorite council person by any measure, weathered an attack equally as disgusting as the disgusting flyer that appeared the Friday before the election when someone altered his campaign lit and attached to his name to it. On election day his family and he were attacked as racists, as were Giattino and Tiffanie all through the 2017 campaign season. Romano and Giattino did offer congratulations election night and life went on. However, at a fundraiser just weeks after taking office the mayor was vowing to take his enemies out. No grace there.

        Now, do you want to rethink your silly comment about the 2017 election results?

        • So true: However, at a fundraiser just weeks after taking office the mayor was vowing to take his enemies out. No grace there.
          And help me remember, was that before or after he announced taking a 2nd job?

    • I agree, Nora was gracious in falling short as was Tiffanie in her victory. Received a lovely and (surprisingly) short thank you email sent out from Tiffanie this morning.

  2. Gee, CCCP, Cristin Cricco Crickets Puppet couldn’t be dragged over the finish line by Ravi Bhalla and Dawn Zimmer.
    That’s a shame. WAH.

    The arrogant liars got their comeuppance.

  3. This election is practically a mid-term or a referendum on Ravi, and Ravi failed. His fingerprints, support, backroom dealings, PAC $, and who knows what else were all over this slate, and the only one who survived was the candidate who had a viable resume previously. The people of Hoboken did not want Ravi to have a rubber stamp in the council; they practically renounced his policies, behavior and administration by voting in his foils.

    • Auditor, you have been measured as the Ravibots have not. At least one of the crazies insists you are the editor of Which is hilarious because you’re obviously not but don’t tell them. It’s more fun to watch the crazy go tilt.

      Thankfully, enough people in Hoboken realized they can’t allow shady, vindictive politics to run City Hall. The disgusting dirty politics out of the mayor’s office disgraces our community.

  4. Notwithstanding the over the top rhetoric tossed around by partisans on both sides, this was a hard fought clean election and all of the candidates, winners and losers, should be really proud of their efforts.

    Not long ago, many of us thought that an election without vote buying was an impossible dream in Hoboken. For one election at least, that impossible dream became reality thanks to the US Attorney and Hoboken owes a huge thank you for that. Still, we need to stay vigilant since corrupt practices have a way of returning over time.

    The Council alignment remains really complicated but it seems to me that Councilwoman Fisher and Giattino have a decision to make. They can continue their alignment with DeFusco and Ramos, not good government types by any stretch of the imagination, basically ceding the swing votes on the Council to Michael Russo who also is not exactly a paragon of ethical governance (understatement).

    Or they can take a truly independent path the path they chose, to Hoboken’s detriment, not to follow over the past 2 years.

    For Hoboken’s sake, I hope everyone, Mayor and Council, is finally ready to put their anger over past slights, real or perceived, aside and not just talk the talk but walk the walk of “reform” style good government.

    • This is the most rational post on HCV in months.

      Anyone comparing this to national contests is insane and people need to come down. This is not like the Congressional midterms and its not a referendum on Ravi. For the most part, this seemed like a quiet and normal election that actually happens in most towns. Just be glad the days of Election Day circuses brought to you by Raia, Mason and other bad actors are not around. Let’s keep those antics away in the future as well

    • It’s worth remembering that all the nastiness and hysteria in HCV comments comes from about four people (using multiple names) in a town of 50,000+. These highly-vocal commenters don’t represent the people of Hoboken, the vast majority of whom are just normal people with real lives , and who wish that handful of nasty commenters hadn’t turned HCV comments into a local version of Fox News/Breitbart/InfoWars.

      Some of the candidates I liked won, and some of them lost. Such is life. And all things considered, life is pretty good in Hoboken.

  5. Lets not forget Dawn Zimmer never got more than 50% plus 1 EVER.
    Let’s not forget she got elected with FRANK RAIA’s help and a lotta LOTTO ticks in envelopes

    • You mean the same FRANK RAIA that gave Michael DeFusco $10,000.00 and in turn was part of his campaign and was recently convicted on multiple counts of voter fraud. DeFusco handing out free hot dogs and ice-cream to voters the weekend before the election.that cost much the a $1 lottery ticket.