Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco announces he won’t seek a third term


Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco has just announced in an email blast that he won’t be seeking a third term in the non-partisan November 7th council races.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“With my current term nearing its end, I’ve had a lot to think about: what’s best for the City and what’s best for me, personally and professionally. After months of consideration and reflection, I have come to terms with the fact that my current schedule can no longer support both endeavors full-time, without one impacting the other,” DeFusco wrote.

“So today, I’m announcing I will not be seeking re-election this November. This decision was not an easy one, and it’s one I’ve struggled with for some time. Though it is with a heavy heart that I close this chapter, I feel confident in saying we’ve brought ‘New Energy and New Ideas’ to Hoboken, together.”

DeFusco unseated 21-year incumbent Theresa Castellano in 2015 when he ran on a ticket backed by then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer after serving on the zoning board of adjustment. He is the first openly gay councilman to serve in the Mile Square City.

Despite being new on the council, he ran a spirited campaign for mayor in 2017, losing to then-Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla in a six-person race by less than 500 votes.

The end of the race was colored by a racist flyer that said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” with a picture of Bhalla and a paid for line from DeFusco, who immediately denounced the dirty tactic.

No one has been charged for their involvement with the flyer to date.

Then in 2019, he easily defeated Migdalia Pagan-Milano, who was running on Bhalla’s slate, by a roughly 2-1 margin despite a super PAC paying for attack mailers against him.

In terms of governmental accomplishments, DeFusco said that he is proud of bringing public art to Hoboken, implementing a $2 million street safety plan along the Newark Street Corridor, reactivating vacant kiosks on Pier A, making street safety improvements, and advocating for converting open space to parks – among other things.

2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, a friend and frequent political ally of DeFusco, commended him for his service to the city.

“I know how difficult a decision this is for Mike. He loves Hoboken so much and has fought hard and done a lot for his constituents and to make our city better,” she said.

“He has been a great partner on the City Council and I look forward to our remaining months working together and our continued friendship in the years beyond.”

During the October 18th episode of HCV Live and Uncut, DeFusco said he planned to run again, and while his relationship with the Bhalla administration had improved, he didn’t see himself running on the mayor’s ticket.

“Listen: I am not going anywhere, I’m the city councilman, I plan on running for re-election next November,” he said at the time.

“ … I doubt I would run on a ticket with the mayor. I would, however, like to work with the mayor on decisions for the city that are less political and more policy-based.”

He did not immediately return a call seeking comment on why he changed his mind since then.

In his professional life outside of politics, DeFusco is the senior director of creative marketing at CBS Sports and has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards in that capacity.

Paul Presinzano, a former close ally of DeFusco, announced his candidacy for the 1st Ward council seat in January and just got into a Twitter spat with the incumbent on Sunday in the midst of flooding due to another heavy rain storm.

“The challenges Hoboken has faced over the last few years have demanded a great deal from our public servants. I respect Councilman Defusco for making what was surely a tough personal decision and want to thank him for his service,” Presinzano said late Tuesday evening.

“I am honored that he approached me about running for Hoboken City Council in 2021. I can honestly say that if it weren’t for him, I would not have pursued public office.”

With DeFusco out of the race, the only incumbents to formally announce their re-election campaigns are 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos and 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, the latter who has a declared challenger in Liz Urtecho.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from 1st Ward council candidate Paul Presinzano. 

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  1. Don’t think the kid ever got over the Ravi Terror Flier attack. Can’t blame him, he was savaged unfairly and the fall guy for an inside job. When he tried to get Ravi to join him in investigating who was behind it, Ravi publicly rejected it. Cui bono? Do the math.

    Why would DeFusco want to go through with a deal with Ravi and that felonious crew? Too bad this comes after the budget vote. He really blew himself up with that “yes” vote. Maybe that dawned on him. Overall, he did well and his votes on the council reflect it. Shame about that last budget vote.

    • Hoboken in the past nearly went under financially when the politicians refused to acknowledge the economic realities of running a City.
      No one likes paying taxes but the new budget is fair.

    • Unlike you he has a real job, a career, relationships, friends. In other words, he has a real life and other options. You don’t. No one is surprised you don’t know what goes into making an important decision.

  2. Thank you Councilman DeFusco.
    You always fought the good fight for Hoboken and your First Ward.
    The funding and plans to refurbish Court Street, NJ Transit Ferry Terminal, Lackawanna Plaza, Worthington Plaza, the decades long campaign to for a rational redevelopment plan for the train station none of which would have happened without his advocacy.

  3. It looks like Mike is officially declaring defeat to Ravi’s dirty racist flier attack on him in 2017. It’s a shame this mayor has so much power, but it’s waning and Russo will surely flip next year if he wants to beat Hoboken Momemily in 2025.

    Word is that Ravi is scrambling to get Rafi Cordova to join Team Bhallaland to run against Paul.

    Good luck, Rafi!


  4. As part of the reporting for this story, were other council members asked for comment? Most HCV stories include a quote from Councilwomen Fisher, sometimes it’s relevant, often it’s not. This story portrays her as a friend and ally, yet no mention of the ethics complaint she filed against him.

    Let’s call a spade and spade, this is a classic case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    • I actually usually don’t ask, she typically just sends something out to her press list. And I didn’t remember that, six years ago already, damn.

      • Appreciate the honesty. This all comes from a place where I’m over our local officials governing too much by tweets and HCV statements.

        In the future, maybe consider asking others if you’re choosing to include an unsolicited statement. After all, Councilwoman Fisher believes #morevoicesarebetter. It’d be nice to hear someone other than hers.

  5. Since Mike’s not around why are we allowing his vacancy go to waste?
    Maybe the City Council shouild rent out his spot on Air B&B, I’m sure DeFusco would not mind