The five-person council slate backed by Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla reconvened yesterday for a fundraiser at Mills Tavern to garner support throughout the Mile Square City, netting about $60,000, according to their campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz.
In May, we had a chance to interview two of the council candidates: 1st Ward candidate Migdalia Pagan-Milano, who is running against incumbent Mike DeFusco, and 5th Ward candidate Phil Cohen, who is now running for an open seat since Peter Cunningham will not seek re-election.
This time, we had the opportunity to speak with 2nd Ward council candidate Nora Martinez-DeBenedetto, who’s running against incumbent Tiffanie Fisher.
When Bhalla introduced his council slate in May, he stressed that the Mile Square City needs a more collaborative working relationship between the mayor’s office and the city council, stating that there is too much infighting right now.
We asked Martinez-DeBenedetto if voters are telling her they want more congeniality between the executive and the legislative branches of municipal government.
“I’m so glad you asked that. Absolutely. Something that is so, so crucial is that even if you don’t agree on everything, you have to be able to have a working relationship,” began Martinez-DeBenedetto.
“I pride myself in my other jobs on being able to work with all sorts of people. I just think that I’m really excited at the opportunity to work with everyone, and I think I’m prime to do that,” she said.
We also asked her why she feels her messaging is superior to that of her opponent.
“Right now, I’m just really focused on making sure that I can get my message out, which is that I’m into making sure that the Monarch development gets moved to a different spot, making sure that I can advocate about Union Dry Dock, which is really important for the 2nd Ward.
“My message is one that I think is really resonating with voters, and I’m knocking on doors and getting out there and letting everyone know about it.”
We followed up with 6th Ward candidate candidate Cristen Cricco-Powell about how her messaging is superior to that of her opponent, Council President Jen Giattino, in order to reach the winner’s circle this fall.
“I don’t think that I would ever say it was ‘better,’ I would say it is different. I think that my perspective is someone who is from Hoboken … and who really appreciates the community here, I think that people recognize that in me and that my message resonates with them.”
“I don’t want to speak ill of any of my opponents, I just want to speak about what I’m for and move forward,” she explained.
Cricco-Powell also noted that the issues resonating with voters thus far is her focus on affordable housing, maintaining and supporting small businesses and historical preservation.
As mentioned earlier, Bhalla said in May that he used to have good working relationships with some of the incumbent council members but couldn’t explain why they deteriorated.
We asked him on camera if he knew why.
“I’m not really concerned about the past. I have great respect for a number of the council members, and I look forward to continuing a cooperative relationship on the issues of common concern to the whole city with the current council,” said Bhalla.
He emphasized that last night’s event was about “November 5th,” introducing Team Bhalla to the community at large and making sure they have the resources and the support from the community to bring it home on Election Day.
Any time the mayor is at a public event, the ongoing saga at Union Dry Dock on whether New York Waterway will or will not be able to set up a ferry maintenance station comes up.
The city just scored a victory in Hudson County Superior Court on Monday when the judge threw out a lawsuit by New York Waterway against the city (which also birthed a scandal after a NY Waterway attorney compared Hoboken police to ‘gestapo’).
Last week at NY Waterway’s home terminal at Port Imperial in Weehawken, however, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver said Union Dry Dock “was going to happen.”
We asked for Bhalla’s response, where he stressed for a cooperative arrangement of all involved parties.
“We’ve been working very cooperatively with the Governor’s office throughout this entire process. I’ve met with the governor myself, and we share common interest in maintaining a continuous waterfront, a healthy environment, protecting public safety and protecting the integrity of our transit system. I look forward to working with the governor’s office, NJ Transit and NY Waterway to find a solution that works for everyone,” said Bhalla.