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_