Ex-Hoboken Mayor Zimmer, who ran in last 2 runoffs, weighs in on December races


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.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“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.

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  1. It appears we’ve reached the second phase of what, on the outside, could almost be mistaken for a coordinated PR campaign by the former mayor and her closest advisor to reestablish visibility in Hoboken. I voted for her every time back in the day, and welcome any initiative that pushes Rebuild By Design forward.

    Perhaps she’s laying the groundwork for a return to local politics? One can only hope.

    • I doubt former Mayor Dawn Zimmer has any political ambitions in Hoboken. She does have a real interest in making sure the Rebuild By Design plan is fully realized as does all of Hoboken.

      It is highly unfortunate that Mayor Bhalla and his staff does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to Jersey City Mayor Fulop and put his own political ambitions ahead of his sworn responsibilities to the residents of Hoboken.

  2. That’s a big fat NO to instant runoffs. It’s always a manipulative way to avoid direct democracy at the ballot box where you select your candidate of choice; not a runner-up choice. It’s very problematic.

    If Dawn can’t get behind Paul, she’s just wasting her breath here. Then again, she wasted Hoboken by backing out of a mayoral race and pushing Ravi in.

    It’s your fault Dawn. We all knew what Ravi was and the problem he represented back on the council. You did too. You choose poorly.

  3. It is insane to think Ravi Bhalla’s manufactured and paid for candidate Cordova would ever take a pubic stand against his puppet master Now or ever.

    Jason Freeman the alleged Hoboken Administrator also again expresses the political opinions of his boss Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Bhalla needs to curry favor with Jersey City Mayor and candidate for Governor Steven Fulop’s support to move into higher office and is apparently more than willing to screw over the people of Hoboken to try to make that happen.

    Hopefully the voters of Hoboken’s First Ward will elect Paul Presinzano who will actually stand up for them and their concerns.on December 5th.

    • Here’s a thought: maybe, just maybe, voters in Hoboken and some council support the mayor’s initiatives because they tend to agree with many of those initiatives. Crazy idea, right?

      Mayor Bhalla has been elected mayor twice, so there is not denying the reality that many people in town agree with and support his efforts. I realize that in the small, insular backroom of local political insider baseball where you dwell, this idea is incomprehensible. But maybe, just maybe, YOU’RE the one who’s out of touch with how much of the town thinks and feels. Tough medicine to swallow, I guess.

      • Or maybe it is because Mayor Ravi Bhalla has a huge political war chest funded by large developers, Unions and out of town donors and PAYS the bills of his other rubber stamp City Council members. Bhalla has repeatedly and clearly shown his secretive, back room dealing has demonstratively harmed the residents of Hoboken,

        Never played insider baseball but it clear that you have been running the bases.

        • @HOHW: developers and out of town donors don’t vote or sit on the council, Hoboken residents do. And they’ve supported the mayor’s initiatives. Maybe quit digging your hole, it gets deeper all the time.

      • The Mayor’s candidate lost the 2nd Ward by 400 votes when Vijay was telling everyone, including reportedly the Mayor, that it was a tossup. It’s fair to say it’s Vijay who is pretty out of touch with how much of the town thinks and feels. Supposedly the Mayor reamed him out on election day. I hope he doesn’t get reamed out again next Tuesday.

  4. Difficult to judge support for an elected official who ran unopposed. More non voters than there were votes to re elect.

    Also difficult to know if he ran unopposed because no one felt the need to run or if they had been intimidated by a political machine that has played dirty every time there is a legitimate critique or challenge.

    • The mayor won twice. Care to make up an excuse for the first time as well?

      This whole tired spin of potential opponents being “too intimidated” to run is such utter make believe nonsense. You’ve said it to yourself enough times that you think it’s true, or that any normal person outside your anti-Bhalla bubble would believe it. Voters don’t, because it’s nonsense. Any one of the current council people could — and should — have run for mayor last time. Don’t hide behind nonsense excuses when the reality is you don’t run because you know you’ll lose. If you don’t have the guts to even run, why should anyone pay attention to your crocodile tears later.

      Boo hoo. Grow a pair.