DeFusco says ‘stakes couldn’t be higher’ in Hoboken’s at-large council races, rules out mayoral run

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Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco said that the “stakes couldn’t be higher” in this fall’s at-large council races, also ruling out a rematch with Mayor Ravi Bhalla in an email blast this morning.

Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco. Instagram photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Citing “callous and destructive attacks on my personal life from the Mayor and his allies continued at a feverish pace,” he said that he’ll forgo a run for mayor this time around in order to preserve checks and balances on the council.

” … In this unprecedented election, when the Mayor’s seat may be uncontested, it has never been more important to have diverse and unique voices on the City Council. If all three of the Mayor’s handpicked candidates win, including two incumbents, he will have a five vote majority who will rubber stamp his agenda without any opportunity for questions or challenges,” he wrote.

“A Mayor with a City Council that doesn’t question policy is terrible for good, representative government and this will translate to more out of scale development, increased legal costs, unnecessary litigation, and once federal stimulus funds run out… more taxes.”

DeFusco joins his colleagues Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino in asking for independent candidates to challenge Bhalla’s ticket.

Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle rejoined the mayor’s slate over the weekend after he announced his running mates on Wednesday, with Doyle filling in for Dini Ajmani.

Independents Cheryl Fallick, Sheila Brennan, and Paul Presinzano, a potential slate, are expected to run, while Pat Waiters and Cindy Wiegand picking up petitions of nomination, according to the city clerk’s office.

They also noted that e-petitions would not be accepted in the Mile Square City this time around. The filing deadline is August 30th at 4 p.m.

With DeFusco, Fisher, and Giattino ruling out mayoral runs, Bhalla is likely to run unopposed – an outcome that has been widely expected for months.

The Downtown councilman explains how he came to this conclusion.

“Many know me as a passionate and effective politician, but at times over the past few years, politics became a toxic force in my life. Mental health isn’t something you typically hear those in elected office talk about but today, it’s a topic I want to address,” he wrote.

“I’ll be honest, when I lost the 2017 mayoral election by 400 votes after being wrongfully associated with a racist attack on the now Mayor, it impacted me dramatically.”

As has been well-documented over the years, a midnight flyer with Bhalla’s picture said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” with the paid for line attributing the racist campaign literature to his campaign back in October 2017.

He was quick to deny any involvement and the no one has ever been charged in connection to the incident, though both Bhalla and DeFusco joined a call in March asking the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in asking for an investigation.

While DeFusco spearheaded the effort to bring back runoff elections in 2018 and continued to be Bhalla’s fiercest political opponent into last year, the councilman said his personal life and mental health suffered – gaining 40 pounds and ending an eight-year relationship.

Back in April, he faced flak from a few colleagues for renting his home on Airbnb during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some also targeting him for a trip to Colombia.

In his email blast today, DeFusco said that while deciding to concentrate “more on policy and less on political noise,” as well as investing in his family, health, and career.

“This investment has paid off — I was nominated for two Emmy Awards, regained strength through daily workouts, spent more time with my aging parents and young nieces, and expanded my advocacy efforts volunteering at an LGBTQ+ center in Colombia for Venezeulan migrant youth.”

41 COMMENTS

  1. Can’t blame the guy for not wanting to be trashed by Ravi and his band of criminals again.
    Apparently, no one wants any part of it.

  2. Mike, if you really want to flip the script, run at large. You have nothing to lose. Let’s see how many people will actually vote for you. If you win you have four more years on the council, if you come up short, you still have two years on the council. You have til Monday to decide and turn in your petitions.

  3. Slight correction to RTFS comment: Can’t blame the guy for not wanting to be trashed by Ravi and his taxpayer funded band of criminals again.

  4. In politics, as in life, you reap what you sow. Maybe Mike will learn how to be a serious elected official instead of just blindly engaging in knee-jerk opposition and obstructionism. One can always dream.

    Also, let’s put the cards on the table. The ONLY reason Mike, Tiff and fourth-place Jen aren’t running for mayor is because they’ve seen the polling and know Mayor Bhalla is well liked and supported by voters for doing a good job during unprecedented times and challenges. The mayor and his administration are far from perfect, there are certainly things I wish they’d done differently, but overall a positive for the city at a time when we really needed it.

    • I couldn’t agree any more with this assessment. If they stepped out their own echo chamber for one second, they’d realize this. Let’s hope the next four years can be less unnecessarily dramatic.

  5. ::slow clap:: And the Oscar for “Best Portrayal of a Victim While Self Aggrandizing” goes to Councilman Michael DeFusco!!!!!!!! Over his political career, it’s a role we’ve seen him successfully play over and over again. Really looking forward to seeing if he pursues any new roles to show his depth of acting skills.

    I’d be remiss to not call out the blatant lie in this statement as well. On April 20, HCV reported on DeFusco’s whereabouts during the pandemic. And his response: “I did travel to Colombia once it was medically appropriate to do so, in order to visit a loved one and his family. This was a personal matter in my personal life that I would like to continue to keep personal. I’ve followed all CDC regulations.”

    So was it a visit to see a loved one or “volunteering at an LGBTQ+ center in Colombia for Venezeulan migrant youth?”

    GIVE ME A BREAK. He always plays the LGBTQ+ card when it’s convenient. As an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m insulted for them. #OurHoboken deserves better than this clown.

    • Mike’s high-priced PR team hoped you wouldn’t remember their previous spin about the “medically appropriate” trip. They’ll need to regroup this morning and put in some additional billable hours to come up with a new talking point that tries to blend the two reasons.

      It’s what happens when a politician is a mouthpiece for a PR firm instead of just being honest with constituents.

      • DeFusco’s paid flack prob didn’t want to explain why she was cohosting his AirBnb while he was away on a world tour (Belgium, Croatia, Colombia) against all COVID-19 travel advisories, then why she was dropped as cohost when the matter became public. For starters. As for crying about his weight gain and personal relationship drama, blaming that on his public service– is that even appropriate? Should all public officials whine about the personal sacrifices that come with public service? Has DeFusco thought about how his very nasty, unrelenting personal attacks on his opponents have impacted them and their loved ones? No, he hasn’t. And frankly, if a politician can’t stand the heat of public opinion, they don’t belong in politics. It’s part of the job. Never heard Bhalla or Russo or Ruben complain. Baby DeFusco banned and blocked. He craved all the perks of public life, but not the work, nor responsibility, a narcissist to the extreme. Which is why he could leave his ward for months at a time during the pandemic, leaving others to pick up the pieces for him, to help his senior constituents get vaccine information and help. I applaud his decision not to run for mayor– for Hoboken’s sake.

    • This is not fair. Councilman DeFusco could easily have done both – visited a family member and volunteered at the LGBTQ+ center while he was there.

      People give all kinds of reasons to explain decisions not to run – often the reasons given are not the complete truth even if they contain grains of truth. It’s pretty obvious DeFusco’s decision not to run was heavily influenced by his failure to raise any money or consolidate support from the “Peter Cammarano” coalition that his prospects of success would depend on.

      That said, his mental health has been an obvious concern to many who have watched his immature and erratic public behavior over the years. I am glad to see him coming to grips with the issue and hopefully finding a healthy path forward.

      • DeFusco is paid by Hoboken taxpayers for public service to HOBOKEN residents, specifically his ward. He is NOT paid by the citizens of Western Europe (Belgium), Eastern Europe (Croatia) or South America (Colombia), which is where he fled for MONTHS (returning briefly for the holidays and a packed, indoor fundraiser) during the pandemic, a fact undisclosed to his own constituents. Instead a panoply of excuses. He defied all travel advisories, putting his constituents at risk. Why didn’t he volunteer for the LGBTQ community in Hoboken’s FIRST WARD instead? Where was he when First Ward seniors needed guidance to get COVID-19 vaccination? No “breaks” for AWOL elected officials.

        • Ravi took a job being paid by a Republican law firm and said he would only do the job in Hoboken as mayor. He lied.

          Objectively, the attacks on DeFusco are dumb. Not even big on Mike DeFusco but he didn’t do anything to merit these attacks let alone that terror flier operation. You Ravi operatives suck. Truly.

  6. Narcissistic personality disorder.

    A disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration; troubled relationships, and lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

    A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they are not given special favors or admiration the believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.

  7. He has too many knocks against him to be a mayoral candidate. Too many mistakes that can be exploited by an opponent.

    That said, Ravi and his team have done far worse things and don’t deserve to run unopposed. The cesspool of negativity, the ‘knives out’ culture, and the constant personal and professional mistakes around all the elected officials dragged everyone down together and prevented a candidate from emerging or building a consensus.

    I must disagree with the above posters who said Ravi is well-liked – I’ve never come across anyone ever saying anything positive about him in real life, only commenters on here.

    • The truth is that overwhelming source of political negativity in Hoboken comes from a hand full of people who openly hate attack Mayor Bhalla and anyone connected to him A simple click on the profiles of those who comment incessantly under their own names during a City Council meeting reveals there true agenda is that of the racist, far left right Republicans. They in all probability post here too as many posts are word for word the same. They do not represent the true Hoboken.
      The residents of Hoboken repeatedly proven itself to be an incredible open welcoming City.

    • Nobody “deserves” to run unopposed. Ravi is not unopposed because he somehow earned the right not to be challenged. He’s unopposed because after 4 years of bitching and moaning about Ravi every one of his opponents turned out to be too frightened of losing or just too plain lazy to run.

      The word that comes to mind is “pathetic.”

      • “Pathetic” can used finished to describe many of the actions and behaviors of the administration as well. They are not above reproach. People are fed up with the way they handle many situations and its sad we don’t have an alternative.

      • How’s Dawn’s new “JOB” do you have a cardboard cut out of her in front of your zoom camera and you do all her work still?

        Hows your new town you DISGUSTING carpetbagger STAWN

  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201910/youre-really-not-smart-the-dunning-kruger-effect

    I see others trying to illuminate one far-right rambling buffoon, but you are wasting your time. He is a classic Dunning-Kruger case, thus unreachable. Unless you all enjoy poking it, best to ignore. It likes attention.

    “In the Dunning-Kruger effect, the less someone knows about a topic, the more they are likely to have strong opinions about that topic. This means that if you are arguing a point with someone that has beliefs that are not rooted in facts, that person will stick to their opinion even when presented with evidence to the contrary. That person will also disregard expert opinions. The person may tell you that the expert opinion is “fake,” the expert was “paid off” to give that opinion, or he or she may just talk over you so that you can’t get your facts heard. Since you can’t prove that something didn’t happen, you walk away frustrated, while the other person is more entrenched in his or her beliefs.”

  9. Jim Doyle did not run again. He barely wanted to run 4 years ago. Help Jim out by voting him out. I know Jim and Jim doesn’t really want to run. He will go through the motions but mutts like Vijay will do the work. Help Jim out by voting him. Help him out, vote him out! A lot of people Jim pissed off and after 4 years he definitely does not vote like a reformer, more like a Ravi bot. Put Doyle out of his misery. Look at past council meetings. In some he absolutely miserable. Put Jim out to pasture. There are 6-7 other candidates likely to get on the ballot excluding Ravi’s slate. Do Jim’s favor and put him out of his misery and vote him out of office. He will thank you when it’s over.

  10. The fact is Jim did not want to run again. Proof is Ravi had selected someone else and they back out last minute. You can attack my proofreading all you want. But Jim did not want to run again and that is a problem, a big problem. And you know it. Voters have a least 9 possibly 10 candidates to choose from and you think they are going to pick someone that doesn’t want it. Good luck selling that to the public.

    Help Jim out! Vote him out! He will thank you when it’s over.

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