Hoboken 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham has announced that he will not seek re-election in November after 12 years on the city council, noting that he has no intentions of “anointing” his successor.
“Twelve years is a good long time to serve on City Council, and I am more than proud of my accomplishments. I can say, from my perspective, I have made this City proud of who it was, who it is today, and who it will be into the future. With that being said and after careful thought with family and friends, I have decided to not run for re-election this year,” Cunningham said in a mass email sent this morning.
“I must now devote increased time to my professional life and more importantly, my responsibilities as a husband and a father. I entrust my legacy to my council colleagues Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher. We need to stay grounded in the foundation of reform initiated twelve years ago, and remain committed to good government. Politics is always inherent to the process, but healthy debates about policy should always be respected and encouraged.”
Also stating that he is proud of the work he did to fight corruption alongside both Councilwoman, and later mayor, Dawn Zimmer, Cunningham also implies he will not be involved in “anointing” his replacement since “it would be hypocritical.”
When Zimmer announced that she was not running for a third term as mayor in June 2017, she endorsed then-Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla to succeed her (which he did).
Cunningham backed Council President Jen Giattino in that mayoral contest.
With Cunningham choosing to ride off into the sunset after this election cycle, the frontrunner quickly becomes attorney Phil Cohen: the 1st vice chair of the Hoboken Democratic Committee who announced in May he was running on the five-person council slate backed by Bhalla.
In his own statement, Cohen praised Cunningham for his service and said he hopes to be able to continue that legacy.
“I want to thank Peter Cunningham for his 12 years of service to the Fifth Ward as our Councilman. I wish Peter a well-deserved respite from 12 years of work for the citizens of Hoboken,” Cohen said.
“I look forward to earning the support of the voters of the Fifth Ward and building on the progress and legacy of reform to which Peter was a key contributor.”
Mayor Ravi Bhalla, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and Giattino all reflected fondly on Cunningham’s accomplishments, calling him a crucial part of the reform movement and “an independent voice.”
“I thank Councilman Cunningham for his 12 years of service to Hoboken. I appreciate the dedication he demonstrated for his constituents and the contributions he made to the reform movement. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Bhalla tweeted after this initial story was published.
“Peter was a true reformer, who was the mastermind behind getting the city’s finances in order. No matter the issue, Peter has always done what he believed was best for the city. It will be a great loss for Hoboken to no longer have his independent voice on the city council,” Giattino said in a statement.
“At the core of his decision making, and what I respect most about his leadership, is his commitment to always doing what was best for Hoboken and his 5th Ward neighbors. Peter’s judgment and independent voice have had positive impacts on our community and will be missed,” added Fisher.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.