HHA leadership welcomes Bhalla’s appointment of Sanford, Smith outraged over being replaced

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Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has appointed James Sanford back on the Hoboken Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners and while the board leadership is on board, Lavon Smith is outraged over being replaced.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“James Sanford brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Hoboken Housing Board. Mr. Sanford previously served during one of the most critical and essential periods in the Housing Authority’s history, and we can vouch first hand for his knowledge and expertise,” HHA Chair Dave Mello and Vice Chair Erica Seitzman said in a joint statement.

“As an ethnic minority, he brings diversity to the Board as well as knowledge of HUD and Public Housing Board governance and operations. He is a dedicated public servant committed to the Hoboken Housing residents, and we look forward to having him back on the board.”

Sanford served on the board for seven years before the city council decided to go in a different direction in May, appointing Lissette Vega.

However, Bhalla’s office said this morning that Sanford would be appointed to a five-year term, effective May 4th. He will be succeeding Smith, who the mayor appointed about a year ago and whose term expires on May 3rd.

” … He has a proven track record of professionalism and asking tough questions at meetings, and keeping the best interests of Housing Authority residents at the forefront. He has the strong support of myself and Chairman Mello, and we thank Jason Smith for serving as my designee over the past year,” Bhalla said today.

“ … I thank Mayor Bhalla for his support and giving me the opportunity to again serve our community and keep the HHA free of corruption,” Sanford added, also thanking his friends and colleagues who supported him.

Yesterday, Smith started a Change.org petition that has 266 signatures as of this writing asking to be reappointment.

While he was unable to get Bhalla’s support, the city council will vote on a commissioner at their next meeting since Hovie Forman’s term expires on May 3rd. Smith said the board desperately needs checks and balances right now.

“As the only African American member of the board and the only member who is a former resident of the Hoboken Housing Authority, it is disappointing that Mayor Bhalla has decided to replace me with someone who the city council did not see fit to serve another term. I fear that Mayor Bhalla assumed that I was some sort of ‘token’ appointment that would rubber stamp his administrations agenda to gentrify the community that was started under Mayor Dawn Zimmer,” he stated.

“Once I showed that I had a mind of my own and strong feelings about the disenfranchisement of the black community and gentrification here in Hoboken, I was no longer his darling ‘Black’ appointee.”

Smith, 40-year Hoboken resident who lived in the HHA for over 30 years, also accused Sanford of being selected by Bhalla to “ensure that redevelopment furthers the gentrification process.”

Patricia Waiters and Carmen Vega, a current HHA resident, have also submitted applications to serve on the HHA board and therefore could be appointed by the city council.

Furthermore, Bhalla’s most vocal critics on the council also slammed him for picking Sanford.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco tweeted it’s “pretty astounding” Bhalla choose not to address the racial disparities on the board, while 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher recalled that Sanford “inappropriately used his position” to attack council candidates running against the mayor’s slate in 2019.

At the time, Sanford was the HHA vice chair and introduced a “Five-Point Integrity Pledge to Protect Hoboken Housing Authority Residents” that included no campaigning at HHA events and denouncing GOTV efforts that paid campaign workers.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The City Council appoints 5 of the 7 HHA commissioners. The Mayor appoints 1. The Governor/DCA appoints 1.

    If there are “racial disparities” on the Board, how on earth can that be blamed on the Mayor with his one appointee? Kind of looks more like any such disparities were caused by DeFusco and the anti Bhalla City Council “majority” with their 5 appointments.

    Also is Fisher referring to Sanford’s integrity pledge as an “attack” on council candidates? How so? Isn’t integrity a good thing? It’s pretty discomforting that any elected official would see an integrity pledge as an attack on them.

  2. What a gross distortion! You know too well DeFusco, Ramos and Falco didn’t have a voting majority when most of the white HHA members were voted in – white Trump supporting commissioners like Hovie Forman who is a supporter of Bhalla too.
    The appointments you mentioned weren’t all installed in the last 2-4 years.
    Some people should really stay away from HHA issues, especially after the huge settlements the HHA board had to pay out just a few years ago because of secret meetings that caused a lawsuit by the past director- a slimy director that won his case ( albeit a settlement ) but he walked away with a nice chunk of money nonetheless.

    • “Some people should really stay away from HHA issues.”

      That’s rich, coming from a notorious Troy Washington advocate.

  3. You really are a dimwit. Only two current HHA commissioners predate the 2017 election – Hovie Foreman and David Mello. My recollection is that the City Council voted unanimously for Mr. Foreman and I think for Mr. Mello as well. More important than the Council consensus, Councilman DeFusco voted for both of them despite both being white males. The Council has had 3 appointments since then, all voted for by Councilman DeFusco without a worry that the Council was creating racial imbalance. It’s instructive that the first HHA appointment made after the 2017 election was a white male, Anthony Impastato, whose main qualification seemingly was having run on DeFusco’s ticket.

    Your misstatements about the lawsuit brought by Mr. Garcia simply demonstrate your lack of knowledge as well as your lack of sufficient intelligence to understand whatever limited knowledge you do have.

    Feel free to post the Raia elevator link again. And again. And again. You’re a venomous troll but nevertheless endlessly entertaining.

    • One correction: it’s not that he has a lack of knowledge, or perhaps even lack of intelligence (still up for debate). He knows exactly what that really deal is, he’s just lying through his teeth. It’s willful attempts at deceit, not stupidity.

      • You give the dimwit too much credit. Yes, he’s a venomous troll who lies through his teeth. But he’s also an unintelligent, uninformed dimwit.

        Of course I base this view solely on his various internet personas. I have no idea who he (or she or it) really is since he (or she or it) so cleverly cloaks his (or her or it’s) identity with brilliant tactics like calling Dawn Zimmer Dawn Zimmerman.

        I think the Raia video might be an important clue, but his (or her or it’s) identity remains shrouded in mystery.

  4. Nice to see LindaLouse come clean in “ her” support of Trump Republicans.
    This is the second Trumper being appointed to the HHA by the Z team out of town zealots

  5. Yes and the Same Garcia that Dawn Zimmet tried to make a school board slate accept on their ticket
    Thank you to the Kids First moms for telling StAWN to take a hike

    Thankfully their HHA cabal all moved out of Hoboken
    Even Carmelo’s Cancun travel buddy and ex BFF and baby blessing MC

    Fake

  6. Removing an African American commissioner?
    This sounds like something that’s only happening in Georgia and the Southern States right now!
    Wow!
    For a male realtor that enjoys all the benefits of white privilege owning multiple condos

    • James Sanford is an “ethnic minority” according to Mello and Seitzman? When did that happen? I guess people can bring up their Ancestry.com results when it’s convenient. Sanford, from what most of us have seen, is a Caucasian, non Hispanic male who as a right wing Republican would be happy to see the HHA disappear from Hoboken. The HHA board has a long history of dysfunction, and this one certainly continues that trend. Shame.

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