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.