Recently stating that he plans on being Hoboken’s “infrastructure mayor,” Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla is calling for upgrading and expanding bus routes, a new train station and making the ferry more affordable if elected.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Bhalla’s plan also talks about developing a 10-year infrastructure improvement plan within his first 90 days in office, completing the $230 million Rebuild by Design project, upgrading the sewer system and strengthening the city’s electrical grid.
“As mayor, I will act to upgrade our aging infrastructure, fixing our water mains, roads, sewers and piers as well as providing regular maintenance,” Bhalla said in a statement.
Bhalla added that he wants to see the price of a ferry ride to New York City go down to $2.75, as well as pushing NJ Transit to add new 126 bus routes west of Clinton Street – also hoping to add more 126 buses exclusively for uptown Hoboken.
Arguably one of the more ambitious aspects of his plan is advocating for a new train station in the North End portion of Hoboken.
“In the years to come, the North End is likely to develop into a thriving new neighborhood focused on commercial development, retail and restaurants, creating a correlating need for public transit options for residents and commuters,” he added in the same statement.
“I am leading the fight for a new train station in this location, building on existing NJ Transit plans.”
Earlier this month, the veteran councilman received two major labor union endorsements: the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
At this October 21st event, Mayor Zimmer said Bhalla “will be our infrastructure mayor,” a title that the councilman was happy to embrace at the podium a few moments later.
Critics of Bhalla’s candidacy have noted that a campaign commercial paid for by the Stronger Foundations Inc., a political Action Committee, begun running on Fox News over the weekend.
A closer look at the PAC shows that it is run by Christopher Lalevee, the brother of Greg Lalevee – who is the business manager of IUOE Local 825.
Furthermore, according to a October 10th report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Stronger Foundations, Inc. spent $11,400 on the Hoboken mayor’s race as of the aforementioned date.
The majority of that money, $9,400, went towards a poll done by the New York-based McLaughlin and Associates, and the other $2,000 being spent on MWW Group – an East Rutherford public relations firm that also does work for IUOE Local 825 and LIUNA New Jersey.
A representative from MWW did not return an email seeking comment about the commercial.
With all that in mind, Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz said Bhalla’s vision is for “a new train station with similar amenities” to what is currently at the Lackawanna Terminal.
A joint project between NJ Transit and developer LCOR, which was approved by the council in December 2014, that aims to reinvent the Hoboken Terminal Rail Yards, “are not in any way related,” Horowitz said.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco recently filed an ethics complaint against Bhalla, a partner at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt and Fader, for the 2014 vote, alleging it was a conflict of interest since the firm has been a client of NJ Transit (which owns the rail yards).
The Bhalla campaign was quick to dismiss the complaint as “a desperate political stunt.”
The Hoboken municipal elections are on November 7th.