At council campaign kickoff, Bhalla says slate will bring new energy to Hoboken


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla told a group of over 200 supporters at the 10th Street and Willow Avenue Bar and Grill that the city council needs new leadership as he formally introduced the five ward candidates he’s backing in November.

Before introducing each of the five council candidates, who he announced last week, the mayor said that he couldn’t explain the deterioration in a working relationship with five of the council’s incumbents: Michael DeFusco in the 1st Ward, Tiffanie Fisher in the 2nd Ward, Ruben Ramos in the 4th Ward, Peter Cunningham in the 5th Ward and Council President Jen Giattino in the 6th.

“The incumbents in this race are people I worked with for years, in the 5th Ward, in the 2nd Ward, in the 6th Ward, I don’t know what happened. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what happened, but something happened where we came to a point where I realized that new leadership is needed,” said Bhalla.

He also talked about recent policy accomplishments of his administration without the council’s help.

“When I first got elected mayor I had the benefit of a great team at City Hall behind me, great directors, great professionals who cared about the vocation, who cared about the city, who are honest and worked hard, and through that process at City Hall we got so much done,” he explained.

“We have a double A bond rating, we stabilized our finances, we’re building the biggest park in Hoboken, we got the Suez deal done and so much more. But I’ll tell you this, we did because we had a good City Hall [team], we did it despite the city council.”

Unsurprisingly, he did credit his two allies on the nine-member city council for working with the administration on the aforementioned policy goals: Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour.

Bhalla revved up the crowd by saying that the council needs not only new leadership, but new positive energy, before introducing his team of Migdalia Pagan-Milano, Nora Martinez DeBenedetto, Lisa Sprengle, Phil Cohen and Cristin Cocco Powell.

“Councilperson Jabbour needs help on the Council. Can we all agree that she needs help on the council,” Bhalla said to a rapturous applause from the audience.

Probably one of the most hotly contested wards during the council races will be in the 1st Ward, where Migdalia Pagan-Milano is squaring off with DeFusco, who fundraised over $500,000 during the 2017 mayoral race.

And despite DeFusco’s fundraising prowess, Pagan-Milano seemed to brush off that large sum of money to compete in an election.

“That’s a lot of money, congratulations to him, however, this is not a mayoral campaign. But who cares, we’re talking about a city council race, we’re talking about what I need to do here is be in tune with my constituents, and that entails me knocking on doors, relating to them, talking to them, which I do anyway because I’m a genuine person, and that’s how we are going to win this election,” she stated.

Both Milano and DeFusco are both members of the LGBTQ community, and we asked Bhalla on camera if that played a role in who he selected to run against his chief political adversary.

“It’s one of many factors, it wasn’t a determinative factor. We’re looking for honest people who have a track record of service to the community. Migdalia has worked in the division of cultural affairs for years now, she works on constituent services everyday in City Hall, and she’s proven herself to be someone who’s honest, sincere and committed to serving the best interests of the residents, so that to me is the most important criteria, and that’s why Migdalia is going to make a tremendous councilwoman when she’s elected,” explained Bhalla.

We followed up with the mayor to ask that should all five of his new council team fail to win on November 5, how that would impact his ability to govern during the rest of his first term as Hoboken’s mayor.

“We come back as a family. My office is always open to all the city council members. I try to make sure that I advance policies that are good for Hoboken. When elections are over, we try to come back together and move the city forward as a community.”

Meanwhile, 5th Ward council challenger Phil Cohen, an attorney by trade and the chair of the Hoboken Democratic Committee, sounded confident that his message will resonate with 5th Ward voters, despite incumbent Peter Cunningham’s 12-year tenure on the council.

“Because I haven’t been on the City Council for the last 12 years, it’s really my time to introduce myself to people who I am and why I think I’m the right person to serve the 5th Ward,” said Cohen.

And what will he tell people that makes his message superior to Cunningham’s?

“You know, it’s funny. I’ve already started knocking on doors, and I haven’t been asked that question once. People are interested to know who I am, what I am interested in doing, what kind of change I’d like to see in Hoboken, and what kind of issues are important to me. And that’s what I’ve been talking to the voters about, and I think that’s what the voters want to hear.”

We live streamed the program of the event on our Twitter page which can be seen below:


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      • Ravi doesn’t know what happened. He just made a buddy of a known anti-Semite who attacked former mayor Dawn Zimmer. Then he ran an operation out of his own mayor’s office to attack a Jewish councilwoman on Hanukkah of all days with the anti-Semite and buddy of his mayoral office aide.

        He “doesn’t know what happened.” He’s being “honest.”

        It’s just Ravi being Ravi.

          • Ravi isn’t friends anymore with Hoboken Horse. Ravi can’t take criticism he received like when he sponsored an anti-Semite to a Hoboken board. Must have Ravi doing the bidding of his pal Russo.

  1. What a night! What energy! and What a turnout!

    So excited for this team. It is time to retire the incumbents and get new, fresh, and honest people on the City Council! #TeamBhalla

    • The corrupt begging to be rid of the good government people on the council.
      What callous liars! How utterly sleazy can these Ravibots get? Sad!

        • Led by Ravi with Bromar, Allen, and Vijay, that will NEVER happen. Gutter politics is where they live and breathe. Is it any surprise people are quietly backing away from Ravi Bhalla? Why risk career and reputation with the ugly deeds seen to date when everyone knows more is coming. Remember all the folks who ran with Cammarano? Didn’t work out so well for them.

  2. I love that Migdalia mentioned she’s genuine (which is so true!) The current first ward councilman (Michael D) is a phoney! Go Team Bhalla!

    • Vijay – it’s one thing to shill for the boss but to shill for someone who works for the mayor’s office currently and put them up as a council candidate is more than a trite ridiculous. This is over the top forging ahead!

  3. So funny to see Cohen talk about being anti big development. That guy approved every variance for every extra sized development that was put in front of him at the zoning board. I think even defusco voted yes less than Cohen. Let that sink in. He is the perfect guy for big development bhalla. But the rest? meh. they didn’t say anything other than they want to continue the progress because they really don’t have much to say. And the progress they mentioned like Washington street and Suez all goes to the incumbents. Good luck.

  4. Last thing Hoboken needs is to give Ravi Bhalla unchecked control with zero oversight.
    His higher tax increases are only one small part of his bad brand of Ravi dirty politics. Dirty and sleazy!

    He killed Reform. Don’t give him the City Council so he can kill Hoboken.

  5. “We come back as a family. My office is always open to all the city council members.” Didn’t he just kick 2 council members out of his office?

    • Too late to point the finger as Ravi Bhalla is already latched on to the messaging calling the people who saved him from himself on the council, corrupt. What type of BS buffoonery is that? Ravi hasn’t even detached his lips from Pupie’s ass. Totally insulting to Hoboken, new and Old.

      • Speaking for myself, I don’t think Fisher, Giattino and Cunningham are evil or corrupt. I do think they have shown themselves to be nasty people who put their own egos ahead of the public good, and Hoboken voters are tired of the narcisim and nastiness.

        Since you bring up Pupie, I have always wondered why Peter Cunningham voted for Pupie over Kurt Gardiner for NHSA. It always seemed like a strange out of character vote.

        Can anyone shed some light on that?

        • Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher saved Hoboken from your guy who was censured by the NJ Supreme Court and sponsored an anti-Semite for a major board and keeps pushing budget busting executive order giveaways (vote buying) and higher taxes/spending.

          That good government trio fights to keep taxes flat in the example set by Dawn Zimmer.

          Just sayin.

        • Wasn’t that the same vote where Bhalla tried to pull off a back door deal of gymnastics with Zimmer’s Assoudorian so that Zimmer / Bhalla could keep Raia in the seat for another year? Is that the one LL?

          • Ravi twisted arms so hard, he almost broke them. The real question is why was he doing that so desperately to get Pupie over a quarter century on the sewer authority? What was the deal with Pupie exactly Lindastan?

            Lindastan? Lindastan? Bueller?

  6. What makes you say that Ugly? We
    Know the horse and the cave are on here mudslinging. Which will be unfortunate for both sides. The only negative campaigning I saw came from teambhalla who say ending petty politics is their main platform point. The incumbents actually haven’t said anything yet.

    • Tiff The Ventriloquist
      As everyone knows Councilwoman Fisher is on record and her FaceBook for soliciting the public to fund that ugly horse. No matter how ugly and extreme his raves get attacking her political opponents she appears to be silent

      • and Bhalla’s ELEC report shows over $1000 paid to Nancy for “Palm cards and Flyers”
        Ooops! They were’t supposed to put “flyers” in the report…. Who got pistol whipped by The Bhalla elite guards for that screw up?

  7. keep guessing who you think is on here dumb bigot horse. The incumbents all support your hate site which makes them enablers. Did i say i support Bhalla or his slate? Did i? I did say I don’t support your white nationalism and everything you and your incumbent enablers stand for. 24 million Sikhs want an apology.
    First-ever Sikh Mayor in US faces racial attack as photoshopped image shows him as Arab dictator
    Morphed image shows Sikh Mayor as Arab dictator in US
    First-ever Sikh Mayor in US faces racial attack as photoshopped image shows him as Arab dictator
    The New Jersey-based website, “Hudson Mile Square View”, ran an image of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla that resembled the Arab dictator role played by British actor Sacha Baron Cohen.
    Photoshopped image shows Sikh Mayor as Arab dictator
    America’s first Sikh Mayor racially ridiculed by website!!
    Photoshopped image shows Sikh Mayor as Arab dictator in US
    Photoshopped image shows Sikh Mayor as Arab dictator
    Doctored Image Shows Hoboken’s Sikh Mayor as Arab Dictator in US

  8. Ravi playing identity politics again!
    “Both Milano and DeFusco are both members of the LGBTQ community, and we asked Bhalla on camera if that played a role in who he selected to run against his chief political adversary.
    “It’s one of many factors, it wasn’t a determinative factor.”

    Sure sure Ravi… you just took a city employee – an UNKNOWN- who works directly for you helped write a resume of 1 LGBTQ activity because of her service?
    Why would she quit her city job to be a PT councilmember? What 2nd job have you promised her ? Imagine if she doesn’t Obey Ravi she won’t have a job if she returns after a potential council stint.

  9. Looks like Russo is going to have a serious challenge from Parking Dude!
    Great news for the honest residents of the 3rd Ward who are tired of the Russo reign.
    From Tow Gate, to Quarter Gate to FBI videos…. Where there’s smoke there’s fire… Where there’s money to be mae, there’s always a Russo!

    Go Andrew! Let’s free the 3rd ward from Russo!

    • If Parking Dude can learn and listen to a couple of good people, he could take Russo out. That would absolutely kill Ravi especially after he brought Antuny back into the mayor’s office.

  10. I’m thinking that the ward elections are going to use the same offensive strategy that was used against 67% of Hoboken’s electorate during the 2017 mayoral election which was that if we didn’t vote for Ravi we must be a racist. This was one of the, if not the most offensive election strategy ever used during a Hoboken election. I’m guessing that many people didn’t vote for Ravi simply because he had proven to be a dishonest politician in the past and, ironically, he proved that those residents were right again in their belief pretty much right out of the gate when he broke his promise to be a full-time mayor by taking a 2nd job with a law firm. Does anyone think that this wasn’t pre-planned?

    The big question for me is that if I don’t vote for the white candidate running in my ward on the mayor’s slate will they somehow twist that into me being a racist.

    Note to Nora: It’s not a diverse slate.

    • your hand-wringing might be more credible if your personal blog owner weren’t globally denounced for a racist graphic while you said nothing.

      • Thanks for affirming my credibility. Since I don’t have a personal blog owner, whatever that is, you’ve just confirmed how on-point my post is – and tipped your hand that the Mayor’s slate plans to “go there.” Fact is, I don’t even know what a personal blog owner is or is supposed to be. (sometimes when people are full of venom they stop making sense. Is that what’s going on with you?)

        • Denying it would have been enough. You went the extra very dumb step of saying you don’t know what a blog owner is. It’s as if some money went missing and instead of saying you didn’t take it, you start asking what money is.

          Back to reality, your blog owner grabbed international headlines for a racist graphic and you don’t care. Yes, it’s an issue in Trump’s America. Good luck wishing it away.

          • So you think I’m a blogger? Nice try, but WRONG. Yeah, yeah, I winced at the photo in the same way I winced at the Triumph of the Shill photo shop years ago. Tell me something, are you gonna show up at a city council meeting with an easel? I’d love love love to see that.

            By the way, have you read the cray-cray on the GA blog today? Can somebody tell her that the city repealed the redevelopment agreement for the Hilton? I read the opinion from the court. Did you? Mighty damning of our Mayor, loved the bit about promoting favoritism. Guess the mayor’s cadre of liars is fine with such stuff. I mean, seriously, handing out wads of taxpayer money to a most favored group of residents without any oversight! Disappointed that she (or you) think that is honest government because it’s not by any measure. From the sound of things, the mayor is working overtime to make sure he still hands over that wad of cash. Cash for votes for his council members maybe and I thought 50 bucks a pop was egregious back in the day, before the arrests. This, THIS, million dollar bribe, beyond shocking. By the way, has anyone on his ticket disavowed the bribe?

            Tell me something, does it amaze you how easy it is for the mayor’s inner circle to lie lie lie, about anything, anywhere, anytime? I just shake my head because it reminds me of Trump tweets. Just one whopper after another.

          • So the HPEF is a “most favored group of residents” and the $1M for the HPEF endowment is a “bribe.” No wonder you’re in bed with Ruben Ramos, who always backed anti-District BoE candidates like Brian the Realtor who advertises how crappy Hoboken Public Schools are. The GA blog wrote clearly that the court had ruled against givebacks, but I guess you don’t read, just look at the pics. “This, THIS million dollar bribe is beyond shocking.” You are a piece of work. How many faces do you wear to your friends who support the Hoboken District Schools?

          • Hey GA/Nance (Hey Tiff)

            It may be a lovely campaign strategy to twist my post to fit your outrageous narrative and tag a council member with my words but, I am not on the city council. Nor am I in bed with Ruben (or anyone for that matter.) Truth is I am a long-time kid’s first supporter (and every iteration since, to date). Can’t speak for the future of my support – but, that’s where I’ve been.

            Sad thing is, there is no other way to view the give-back/bribe on the hotel vote other than as a way for the mayor to hand out goodies to try and lock down the HPEF mommy vote. He could give a crap about public education. Pulled his kids out of the public school district as fast as he could. He’s also sat silent in most BoE elections. Even refused to publicly support Aileen M. in the most recent election and on and on.

            HPEF looks to me to be an organization focused on something very important. They are also well-funded by some of Hoboken’s most elite and the developer community (sponsors include: SJS properties, Mack-Cali, Urby, Academy, Bijou Properties, and – drum roll please – KMS Development Partners.) They will be able to do good things for the children in the Hoboken Public School District. But, they are NOT above reproach on this issue. They were all to willing to participate in this inappropriate usurping of taxpayer money.

            Imagine if $1M of your taxpayer money were handed over to the Liberty Humane Society with no government oversight. Liberty Humane Society is a great organization, but animal sheltering is not impacted by the hotel development. I doubt you and the mommies of HPEF would see that as an appropriate way to hand out taxpayer dollars without oversight and that would not make you or any of the HPEF members anti cats and dogs.

            Speaking for myself and not for Tiffanie (who is not me); I stand by my opinion that the $1M ‘give-back’ was a bribe and the judge’s ruling affirmed this in no uncertain terms. The school system was not and will not be impacted by the hotel development. No connection whatsoever. The negative impact of the hotel – and there will be negative impacts – (as well as positive impacts) – rightfully needed to be offset with any available developer givebacks. When the monies were funneled to a group focused on an unrelated cause, it became a bride pure and simple. The unwillingness of the HPEF members to be able to reason this is very disappointing. It reflects badly on them and their organization.

  11. Can there at least be a rule to disallow posts where someone’s name is only separated from “nazi” by one letter? It’s going to be a very long campaign season if that kind of gutter activity is allowed.

  12. Add to that : no false accusations of criminal activity. That is defamation.

    You really have to lay down some rules or turn off commenting for Hoboken stories.