For 3rd time in a month, Hoboken council moves forward with ballot runoff question


For the third time in a month, the Hoboken City Council moved forward with a measure that would allow voters to decide if runoff elections should return in 2019 and beyond. 


” … When Dawn Zimmer vetoed the ordinance that I was so proud we had passed last meeting, she stated ‘It is certainly understandable for losing candidates and their supporters to believe that they would have won if only the rules were different,'” Dave Mello, a former two-term councilman who ran with Zimmer, said at Wednesday’s meeting.

In her final days as mayor, Zimmer vetoed an ordinance previously approved by the council that would have allowed voters in the November 6th general election to decided if runoff elections would be brought back to the Mile Square City.

In her veto statement, the now former mayor, in her final legislative action, attributed the desire to fast track the ordinance was to undermine Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s victory in a brutal six-person contest.

“It was adopted by a lame duck City Council, in the last City Council meeting of the year. Every single Councilperson who voted in support of this ordinance was either a losing candidate in the election, or actively supported a losing candidate.”

The first reading of the measure, introduced by 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, at their December 6th meeting before the ordinance was approved by a vote of 7-2 at their December 20th meeting.

This did not sit well with Mello, who unsuccessfully sought re-election on Freeholder Anthony Romano’s (D-5) ticket, since her believes Zimmer, and many other elected officials who still sit on the dais, have benefitted greatly from runoffs.

“Certainly, Dawn must have forgotten that she lost on that day in May of 2007. She lost by well over a hundred 137 votes, in a Ward-ONLY election. She lost by a larger percentage of votes cast than the percentage Mike DeFusco recently lost to Ravi Bhalla by, absent a runoff,” he continued.

“But because the Hoboken election laws were different then, and because Chris Campos had not won a majority of the votes cast, BUT A MERE PLURALITY, Dawn Zimmer qualified for a runoff election. This runoff election, held in June, resulted in Dawn winning by a mere eight votes.”

Mello further stated that due to the razor-thin margin of victory, subsequent lawsuit and ultimately a second runoff occurred before Zimmer prevailed at the polls.

He went as far as to say that Zimmer’s 10 years of public service in Hoboken was all thanks to voters having a chance to vote in runoffs.

“The point is that if a runoff had not been in place, Dawn Zimmer would have never been elected in 2007 – SHE WOULD HAVE LOST IN MAY, had a mere plurality rather than a majority been all that was needed to win, there would have never been Fourth Ward Councilwoman Zimmer,” Mello exclaimed.

” … There would never have been mayoral candidate Zimmer two years later . . . nor Council President Zimmer after she lost to Peter Cammarano in 2009’s RUNOFF. Acting Mayor Zimmer that July, nor Mayor Zimmer that Fall.”

A question regarding runoff elections was on the November 2012 ballot and at that time, Mile Square City, residents definitively decided to do away with runoff elections by a vote of 9,191 to 6,702.

Despite that fact, Mello still implored the city council to leave it up to the voters again.

“So I implore you, please move this ordinance to second reading, please vote yes on this ordinance, and most importantly please allow the voters of Hoboken the chance to decide whether they want to bring back the runoff system,” Mello stated.

“I sadly doubt I’ll ever get my old friend back, but maybe, if you all pass the necessary votes to put this referendum on the ballot, Hoboken’s voters will choose to bring back to runoff system that made possible her time as a public servant and so many of ours as well.”

Without any discussion, the council unanimously approved the first reading (9-0) of the ordinance.

Zimmer could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

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  1. Go Dave!

    What’s the problem with letting the voters choose if they want runoffs again after five years?
    Hope the city council can look to implement the instant runoffs. No reason state would stop it.

    • Why not put it on the ballot every year? Are you really sure? How about now?

      The council will obviously pass it, Ravi will probably let it go through to comfort the council crybabies, and decent people will have to mobilize money and time again to knock it back.

  2. Dave loves the sound of his own voice. He’s already shown by joining up with Romano that winning means more to him than ethics. He’ll be back on the council. He’s just what they like these days.

  3. If this does go back on the ballot, people should demand their elected representatives take a position on it and make a clear endorsement for or against, without any hedging or equivocation, before the election. No more talking out of both sides of your mouth for Jen, Tiff and Peter, or Mike for that matter. If you’re going to push this, you don’t get to then go sit back and let the chips fall where they may, you have to align yourself with a side and put some skin in the game. People deserve to know where their council representatives stand. I’m getting a clearer sense where mine does, and I don’t think he’ll be getting my vote for another term. Which would, for the record, be his fourth – what are we, gunning for Castellano’s record? If we want some real election reform that matters, why not start with term limits?

  4. Zimmer’s irrelevant husband and his little beer buddies should lay low after this past week’s news by active attorney Dana Wefer

    Maybe he should stop playing political boss especially now that the public won’t pay for future lawsuits

  5. Interesting to see so many now looking to add the runoff election back. The same people were happy to see it gone some time ago. What possibly could have changed?

      • It’s been 14 years since the pay-to-play ban passed in a 10-to-1-margin referendum. There’s even more voters who did not decide with the turnover in a decade and a half — probably a majority of the city has turned over. We have no way of knowing whether a pay-to-play ban reflects the values of the community’s new composition without having a do-over.

        Let the people decide… again!

  6. Looks like the poison blogger club just stole another handle in another attempt to paint “all who question” as racist. It is pretty disgusting.

    Just read the idiocy over on the toxic blog where the toxic queen tries to paint Mello as angry or something and here are my thoughts.

    1) I always thought Vijay was a nasty creep and based on the twitter snips on the toxic blogger piece, I was absolutely right. Best thing that happened was that he left his position at city hall. Regardless, we are sure lucky to be rid of him.

    2) Queen toxic asks someone to refute the difference between now and 5 years ago when the citizens of our city voted to eliminate the runoff. Does she REALLY need someone to point out the obvious?!? Now that we have seen the negative impact, we realize we made a mistake and want to correct that mistake. Duh! Not everyone is Zimmer, who wouldn’t admit to a mistake if her life depended on it. (and she made lots of them)

      • it’s a talking point. they claim they were called racists but can not cite a single example of it. but it gives them something to cry foul play over and to excuse every reckless decision they make. their alliance with ramos puts them in bed with carmelo garcia who can’t get out of bed without playing the race card. but they’re ok with his race card.

        team jen lives for revenge and do many awful things as a consequence. they have to invent good reasons why they are entitled to revenge. just don’t ask them to prove it. they can’t.

        • Not the story, the comment section – but you probably knew that. I am talking about the Bhalla bloggers posting racists comments using other people’s handles. It was done to me on another thread. Truly disgusting.

        • Everyone who doesn’t agree with Ravi gets called racist. Don’t go there unless you have a strong stomach. It’s promoted with a little wink, wink.

          They don’t call it revenge, they call it good. More of the crazy Sybil’s Cave club creatures we can expect ahead.

          Meanwhile the crybabies there insist on absolute power in local government and blame council members who won’t bow to Ravi. This even after Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher went to Trenton yesterday supporting Mayor Bhalla on Union Dry Dock. No support on the issues will be enough. The most bitter winners will continue their crap led by Ravi’s paid political operative at the cave and demand absolute power. Screw that.

          Carmelo Garcia is gone and who in City Hall helped him get $700,000 of taxpayers money in a scam? It wasn’t anyone on the city council writing emails telling the HHA chair what to do.

          • Considering that Councilwoman Fisher was instrumental in delaying the vote to acquire the the Union Dry Dock property in her Ward which opened the door to NJT to rush in and acquire it, she should have been at the meeting. Not so much to support Mayor Bhalla but to try to rectify her mistake. Same for the Fund For A Better Water Front guys who were instrumental in delaying the vote. If these efforts don’t work Councilwoman Fisher will have a very difficult time getting people in her Ward to reelect her.

          • how is soares an improvement on assadourian? wasn’t the public entitled to an explanation?

            do you personally think defusco is better than doyle? if so, how?

            do you think ramos has cut his lifelong ties to the old guard including the godawful boe tickiet he supported in november?

            no one is demanding control. they are simply asking why these are good choices. that’s all reform has ever asked. reform’s enemies knew they didn’t have answers and shrieked about authoritarianism instead. do you have answers?

          • Shut your fat mouth, stop lying for a change.

            No one is owed a paid board position. Soares won the seat by a wide margin, end of story. Get over yourself.

            Reform is destroyed. That’s over. Congrats to you and Ravi! No one gives a crap and no one will listen to your orders to serve Ravi.

            It’s what’s best for Hoboken that matters.

          • Shut your fat mouth? Typical inarticulate buffoon for Giatinno and Fisher. Can’t form an adult argument so he just says shut your fat mouth.

            Thanks for confirming what we all knew: picking Soares and dropping Assadourian was pure politics. Same as dropping Doyle for Defusco.

            You have no answers just childish rage. That’s all we expect from Jen and Tiffanie.

    • Cunningham, Mello, and Giattino all enthusiastically supported the elimination of runoffs in 2012. Fisher I believe did too and signed the petition though she wasn’t a public official.

      Not one of them has had the honesty to acknowledge that and provide a thoughtful even borderline intelligent explanation of why they personally have changed their minds other than being angry that mean Ravi called Republican Jen a Republican and won the election doubling her vote count.

      HAL – 9200 Hoboken voters made the decision to eliminate run-offs – not you and your other screen names or Zimmer or the City Council. So when you say “we” changed our minds purporting to speak for those voters you one off like a narcisistic idiot. Tell why YOU changed your mind. And referencing the last five years as an obvious reason referring to the fact that candidates in multiple candidate races like Fisher, Bhalla and Zimmer won with less than 50% is only a reason to change your mind if you were either stupid enough not to know that’s what eliminating run-offs does by design, or more likely that you just don’t like the candidates who won. Which is it? Are you stupid (the voters weren’t) or are you a hypocritical partisan shill?

      On another note are you ready yet to acknowledge Soares and Ramos voted for the disastrous Suez extention in 2001? That really isn’t debatable. It’s simply a fact. Yet you keep lying about it. Why is that?

      • Seeing that eliminating the runoff has created a situation where entrenched politicos that are only serving their cronies and their own selves is very dangerous. I watched the last city council meeting and I saw the recent result in Jersey City. It has nothing to do with Ravi winning the election other than his being a minority mayor puts him in a weak position out of the gate and it emboldens what appears to be a core group of #1 class-A creeps.

        With no runoff, there would be no mayors Zimmer and Vezzetti. Both of these mayors set the city on a better course but neither was part of a political machine. I want there to always be an ability to change course. When politicos become entrenched, good things happen for politico cronies and personal agendas, bad things happen for the good of the people. Since we do not have primaries (although the Bhalla cronies did try to make our elections partisan) having runoffs ensures majority rules, not cronies rule. Majority rules is preferable. Who would disagree with that?

        • Zimmer obtained a forbearance agreement while she negotiated a solution to the disaster created by Soares, Ramos and others.

          Why do you keep lying? Man up, tell the truth and support Mayor Bhalla in solving the problem Soares and Ramos helped cause.

          • I think after some more self serving rhetoric and chest thumping the Hoboken City Council will sign off on a SUEZ contract that is very similar to the one they refused to approve before the election. The original SUEZ contract signed by Mayor Anthony Russo decades ago and approved by the City Council locked the City into a very limited negotiation parameters.

      • Elections have consequences

        Soares and Ramos didn’t vote for the Suez contract

        Ravi’s transition team co chair Dave Roberts, Ruben Ramos and Anthony Soares voted for an amendment to a contract that allowed a deferred charge when Hoboken was broke
        Sure blame away, at least they never backed away from a election or got Hoboken in a slew of lawsuits because of a reckless spouse , bad planning or interference in a application like the Monarch

        They have more than forged diaries to prove it too!

        • Please stop lying. The amendment foisted on Hoboken by Soares and Ramos among others didn’t defer anything and Hoboken wasn’t yet “broke.” Instead of passing an honest budget with necessary budget cuts and a needed tax increase Soares and Ramos basically borrowed $2 million from Suez in exchange for a premature 10 year extention on far worse terms than the then existing contract. Its because of irresponsible actions like the 2001 contract extension by incompetent public officials like Soares and Ramos that Hoboken ultimately became broke by 2008.

          Soares and Ramos probably never even read what they voted on. In fact, they probably still haven’t.

          If you can’t man up and accept responsibility at least shut up and stop lying. And if you can’t be part of solving the problem Soares and Ramos helped cause, at least hide under a rock and stay out of the way.

  7. Hoboken’s old Old Guard politicians had always counted on smaller runoff elections that they could have a better chance of winning when voter numbers dropped and they could rally their base. The remnants of the old Old Guard on the City Council Russo and Ramos are now being joined by the new Old Guard of Cunningham, DeFusco, Fisher and Giattino because now they too see the same personal advantage of smaller voter turn outs in runoff elections.

      • This November will mark five years since the MSTA/rent-control referendum in which voters opted to protect tenants rights. There’s been a lot of turnover in the city since then, and there are many new property owners who did not get to have a say. Five years is a good point to take a look back and have a do-over so the community’s current composition gets to have their say.

        Rent control is an issue many new home and building owners may view differently than the electorate who decided last time. Let them have a say. Put it on the ballot again alongside the runoff question. If the public still views it as good public policy, then the voters will do what they think is best.

        • I don’t know anything about that, but I guess the city council could put rent control on the ballot if they wanted to. I don’t know if it would be a smart move. This is a city not a suburb. Lots of renters.

          • I guess that’s why the referendum failed by only a handful of votes thanks to the support of Mayor Zimmer and now mayor Bhalla. I doubt the renters will be so lucky next time. I heard there’s an initiative petition in the works.

      • You mean like when Dave Roberts reportedly outbid Carol Marsh and Tony Soares to cut deals with Russo and Raia to beat Carol Marsh? Since when does facilitating corrupt deal making benefit good government?

      • It is not news that incumbent candidates have always had and will always have advantages under any system.

        I have no problem with putting the question on the ballot again. Councilman Mello facts were absolutely correct. My original post was my opinion as to why it being floated at this time.

  8. Why is Bhalla planning to spend $30,000 on a bullet proof glass divider in city hall?

    He’s been a councilman for 8 years and now he suddenly needs to tow his neighbors cars for security ( or was it for free parking for his family and friends from out of town ?)

    This “everyone is a racist /crying wolf ” is getting old.