ELEC: Russo leads Hoboken council candidates with $118.6k cash on hand


Hoboken 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo leads all candidates in the non-partisan November 7th municipal contests in fundraising, with a whopping $118,582.83 cash on hand, his October 12th campaign finance report says.

Hoboken 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo. Screenshot via Facebook Live.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Russo, the longest serving member of the council who was first elected in 2003, recently raised $72,890 and spent $46,127.12, last week’s report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) says.

The New Jersey State Laborer’s PAC contributed $2,6000, Hoboken Firefighters IAFF Local 1078 gave $2,400, Democratic Assembly nominee in the 32nd District John Allen donated $1,600, former Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts added $1,500, and state Senator Brian Stack’s campaign account chipped in $500, according to the report.

IBEW Local Union No. 164 wrote a check for $1,000, as did both Academy Bus Vice President of Real Estate David Lehmkuhl and Charles Poggi, the owner of the Poggi Press site that the city wanted for a municipal complex, though that never panned out.

Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Marc Recko also gave a cumulative $700, which is not terribly surprising given that Russo is the council designee on their volunteer board.

Additionally, Ron Simoncini, the executive director of the Mile Square Taxpayers Association, contributed a total $3,100.

Simoncini vowed to do a rent control referendum after Mayor Ravi Bhalla vetoed what was touted as a compromise between tenants and landlords in April. Russo was one of five council members who voted in favor of the ordinance.

Three large donors included Mark Villamar, of development group Pegasus Partners, and the LLC for Robongi Hoboken, a popular sushi restaurant at 520 Washington St., and William Guarini, the owner of Guarini Plumbing and Heating. They each gave $5,200.

Russo’s biggest expenditure was paying Caleb McDermott, based out of San Francisco, $6,000 for media and consulting, followed by $5,000 to the Washington, D.C.-based The Operations Group.

He is heavily favored to win a sixth term against Republican data analyst Ed Reep, who filed with ELEC to indicate that he will be self funding for his campaign.

In the highly anticipated 5th Ward race, Councilman Phil Cohen has $44,755.53 cash on hand, raising $18,224.92 and spending $12,978.79 this reporting period, his October 10th ELEC filing says.

New York Hotel Trades Council Committee, who endorsed him earlier this month, donated $5,500 and Allen contributed $3,024.92 total.

His largest expenditures are $3,235 spent on Connecticut-based Mission Control for handouts, flyers, and palm cards, and then $2,400 on Providence, Rhode Island-based political consultant Rob Horowitz.

His opponent, Liz Urtecho, has $15,188.87 cash on hand, raising $9,749 and spending $7,207.91 for this reporting period, according to her October 10th 29-day pre-election filing.

With only two exceptions, all of her donations were between $100 and $500, with her largest expenditure being a $2,400 payment to New York-based political consultant Al Benninghoff.

In the 1st Ward, the only race for an open seat with Councilman Mike DeFusco not seeking re-election, Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board Rafi Cordova has a significant fundraising advantage.

He lists $34,421.56 cash on hand and $40,435 raised since he announced in May, meaning he only spent $6,013.44 as of October 10th, his ELEC filing details.

Council President Emily Jabbour, Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, former 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, who along with Bhalla has endorsed Cordova, and Dini Ajmani, who planned to run for council with Bhalla in 2021 before taking a post in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration, and Cohen all donated $500 a piece ($2,500 total).

Additionally, Bhalla donated $2,500, Allen gave $2,000, and Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero cumulatively contributed $1,500.

About a quarter of his donations, $10,785 to be exact, came from donors who wrote checks for $200 or less and his largest expenditure was a $2,000 consulting payment to Horowitz.

One of his opponent’s, administration critic Paul Presinzano, reports $5,870.07 cash on hand, with $4,175 raised and $5,589.65 spent during this reporting period, according to his October 10th ELEC filing.

Poggi donated $1,000 and he paid $1,600 to Benninghoff for consulting.

The third candidate in the downtown race, former Health and Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini, has not filed an ELEC report, but he also has not hosted any fundraisers or hired any paid campaign staff as of yet.

In the 2nd Ward, challenger Marla Decker, running on Bhalla’s ticket, has a slight fundraising edge over Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

Decker reported $32,568.77 raised as of October 16th, spending $15,596.70, leaving her $16,972.07 cash on hand, her latest ELEC filing shows.

Cohen, Jabbour, Doyle, and Quintero gave $500 each, with Bhalla adding $2,500 from his own account, with $12,403.77 also coming from donations of $200 or less. Additionally, Board of Education President Sharyn Angley chipped in $300.

In Decker’s expenditures, she reported spending $2,500 on Horowitz and $1,200 on Mission Control.

Fisher reports $18,609.70 cash on hand, raising $8,505, and spending $8,203.84 during this reporting period as of October 11th, her ELEC report from last week says.

$5,255 came from donations of $200 or less and her she paid West New York-based Royal Printing $4,976.85 for two separate campaign mailers.

Perennial candidate Pat Waiters has not filed a report, which is commonplace for her, with no campaign funds raised or spent. While she is focusing on the board of education race and has endorsed Fisher for council, she remains on the ballot in the 2nd Ward.

Finally, in another three-way dance in the 6th Ward, Lauren Myers, also a part of the Bhalla slate, has a small fundraising lead in a race where everyone had at least $20,000 in their campaign account.

In her October 10th ELEC filing, Myers reports fundraising $24,946.13 and spending just $4,751.11, leaving her with $20,195.02 cash on hand.

She and her husband each gave $500, as did Cohen, with Quintero contributing $300 and the mayor adding $1,000. Her largest expenditure was $1,500 at local business Hoboken Clique, who made campaign t-shirts.

Ian Rintel, the owner of Play! Hoboken, lists $22,048.07 raised and just $3,273.50 spent (all on one mailer), leaving him with $18,774.57 cash on hand, his October 9th ELEC report shows.

He doesn’t list any new donors, which indicates the vast majority, if not all, of his campaign dollars came from his prior council-at-large campaign in 2021. As part of his campaign announcement In May, he instituted a self-imposed donation limit of $300.

As for Councilwoman Giattino, she raised $19,721.59 and spent $3,472.08, good for $17,604.45 cash on hand (her opening balance was $1,354.94), her October 10th ELEC report says.

$6,668.69 came from contributors who each gave $200 or less, with Poggi chipping in $1,500 and former Councilman Michael Lenz giving $515.38. Her largest expenditure was $1,944.81 to Royal Printing for two separate campaign mailers.

The only unopposed candidate, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, had an opening balance of $20,267.79, raising $6,488 and spending during this $8,785.73 period, giving him $17,970.06 cash on hand, his October 10th ELEC filing says.

Poggi Press donated $1,500, former Assembly Speaker and Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Vinny Prieto gave $1,000, Russo contributed $313, and his largest expenditure was $3,792.31 spent on Vision Media for the production of campaign signs and mailers.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. Russo’s big bank is for his run for mayor.
    He had no real opponent this time aroud or last election
    With hundreds of millions in contracts for knocking down and rebuilding the vast HHA campus political donors have a reason to very generous to Russo. Bhalla basically handed him the HHA.

    The infamous quote from Russo’s BIG Sting lunch was You do for me, I do for you.

    • Russo is already running for mayor. He’s emailing us who don’t live in the Third Ward. How he has escaped criminal prosecution for that seven-figure insurance scam is a question that demands an answer? The state of our government is a disgrace.

      Of some note, every single person at that Jersey City lunch with Russo in “The Jersey Sting” was arrested, prosecuted and went to prison from Solomon Dwek on down. Somehow, Russo was the last man standing and never charged. It reeks and the odor today is far worse.


  2. Faux activist Rafi Cordova is a deceptive POS raising money from the likes of John Allen and the Bar and night club owners

    He’s nothing more than a prop for Bhalla who made deals to secure support from once respected activists who sold their own friends out for a possible position

    Rafi’s puppet Strings are controlled by Castellano, Bhalla and Fallick
    The 3 Stooges against reform

  3. John Allen has alot of money sloshing around. I guess being an owner of a bar over which you pass policy and regulate has its advantages. I realize column A more or less runs unopposed at the state level, but I will still enjoy voting for anyone other than John Allen.