Former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who was a candidate in the Mile Square City’s last two runoffs, weighed in on December elections ahead of the 1st Ward runoff next week.
“As a candidate in both the last Mayoral runoff in 2009 and the last City Council runoff in 2007, I have a nuanced view of runoffs. On the one hand, I would not have been elected to the City Council in 2007 without a runoff since I did not get the most votes in the first round,” Zimmer told HCV.
“On the other hand, both runoffs I was involved in were nasty affairs with lots of unsavory behind the scenes political chicanery. My personal view is that instant runoffs represent the best solution to the problem of candidates failing to get an actual majority of votes in a multi-candidate election.”
Since instant runoffs aren’t currently permissible under New Jersey state law, Hoboken had to choose between a plurality election in November of a December runoff.
While runoffs were eliminated via ballot referendum in 2012 during Zimmer’s first term as mayor, Hoboken voters overwhelmingly chose to bring them back in 2018.
In 2007, Zimmer had to face off with 4th Ward Councilman Chris Campos three times: while Campos won in May, he didn’t reach the 50 plus one threshold, with the challenger coming back to win by just eight votes in June.
Of course that outcome was challenged, particularly over the handling of absentee ballots, eventually necessitating a trilogy in November where Zimmer scored 1,070 votes to 956 for Campos.
Two years later in the mayoral contest, Zimmer advanced to the June runoff with Cammarano, losing by 161 votes in another close contest.
That result ended up not meaning much in the long term, with Cammarano resigning within a month of taking office after getting hit with federal bribery charges and Zimmer, then the council president, was named acting mayor.
Serving two terms as Hoboken’s chief elected official between 2009 and 2017, Zimmer said that 1st Ward voters need to “see through the political nonsense” and vote on qualifications, independence, integrity, and issues on December 5th.
She did not express support for either Paul Presinzano or Rafi Cordova, but called on both candidates to take a hard stance on Rebuild by Design.
“Since the 1st Ward will be severely impacted if Rebuild by Design’s southern alignment is not completed, I hope both candidates will not just say they ‘support’ Rebuild by Design but will pledge to fight for it by demanding transparency from the Bhalla Administration on the easement issue that poses a very real and ongoing threat to the project,” she added.
“At the last City Council meeting, the business administrator advocated for Jersey City, not Hoboken, saying Jersey City’s position (as he misleadingly presented it) was reasonable. This highlights Hoboken’s urgent need for independent voices on the City Council willing to advocate strongly for the interests of their constituents.”
Just before the November 7th election that included the city council races for the six ward seats, Zimmer exclaimed that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop was holding the flood resiliency project “hostage” while Mayor Ravi Bhalla is complicit.
This led to the council unanimously approving (9-0) a measure urging the state to take action on Rebuild by Design by any means necessary, including using eminent domain, to acquire Jersey City property where easements are supposed to be built.
Cordova is running with the support of Bhalla and his allies, while Presinzano has the backing of the Bhalla’s opponents on the council.