The Hoboken City Council named Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour their new president, with 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo – the outgoing president – voted in as vice president, reversing their roles from last year at Wednesday’s reorganization meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Russo nominated Jabbour to the position, as he said he would last month. HCV reported that the councilwoman was the frontrunner to lead the council in the Mile Square City this year, where the six ward council races are in November.
“It’s my pleasure to make the first nomination here. It’s been an amazing time working with her as my city council vice president, so I would like to put forth the nomination of Emily Jabbour as the president of the city council,” Russo stated.
He received a second from 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen.
“I’m supportive of Emily. She’s a big proponent of residents in our community. I’m hoping that this year the goal is balancing the time of the meetings and … involving the public more, having more public debate, having debate amongst the council members,” added 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.
She also said that she wanted to make the public the priority, which she didn’t think happened during Russo’s tenure as president.
Jabbour’s nomination was approved unanimously (9-0), before City Clerk Jimmy Farina swore her in, with her family taking part in the ceremony.
“Thank you very much. I appreciate the support the role of my colleagues in this role. I will do my best. With that I would like to nominate my colleague Councilperson Russo for the position of council vice president,” she stated.
She received a second from Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero.
Fisher noted that in Hoboken, council members up for re-election typically don’t serve in leadership roles, so she would be voting against Russo’s nomination for VP.
While 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino joined her in voting against, the nomination still passed easily by a tally of 7-2.
He was the sworn in by Farina, with resident Pat Waiters holding the Bible for him. Afterwards, Farina presented Russo with a gavel in honor of being council president last year.
“You handled these council meetings to the best of your ability. You were very courteous to the public and you were very stern with the public when you had to be. And you know why? Because you’re a kid from downtown,” Farina explained.
In a statement, Mayor Ravi Bhalla congratulated Jabbour and Russo and said he looked forward to working with them and their colleagues in the new year.
“Congratulations to Councilperson Jabbour on her new role as Council President, and thank you to Councilman Russo for your leadership as Council President over the last year,” he said.
“2023 will be an important year for Hoboken, and I look forward to working with Council President Jabbour, Council Vice President Russo, and their colleagues to move critical issues forward on behalf of Hoboken community members.”
The council then mulled over several board appointments, including their council designee to the planning board. Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle served in that role in 2022.
“Maybe next year not this year we could reconsider reappointing the same individuals over and over,” 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos said.
“This has been a really difficult year for the planning board. They had a huge amount of work, Councilman Doyle worked really hard,” Cohen said in Doyle’s defense.
Despite Ramos’ objection, the measure cleared the council unanimously (9-0).
Cohen was then nominated to maintain his position on the Hoboken Business Alliance board.
“We had conversations at the last meeting about the potential legislation being moved forward to install bike lanes on Washington Street. A number of us feel like we could have done a better job. Council chambers were full,” Fisher stated.
“They were mainly full of business owners who were opposed. I want to hear a commitment … to make sure members of the HBA are aware of the legislation moving forward. It was so extremely polarizing that I feel it’s an important issue.”
Cohen noted a consultant needs to do a study first before a plan is formed and funds are allocated.
“There will be an opportunity to do that,” he replied.
“I hope you speak to HBA about the legislation to let them know,” Fisher said, noting that the bike lanes signage already narrowed Washington Street.
“I didn’t hear you commit to that I hope you will,” Fisher added.
“My same comments that apply to the Planning Board apply to this board as well,” Ramos said.
“Understood,” Jabbour answered.
Cohen’s appointment was still approved unanimously (9-0).
Jabbour then said that the three appointments to the Hoboken Art Committee would be carried since the council did not have time to review all the applicants.
Furthermore, a resolution appointing Quintero to the sometimes controversial cannabis review board was also carried.
“I want to see how the other committee assignments play out and see if there’s capacit,y frankly,” he said.
During public comment, Waiters expressed frustration over constantly applying for volunteer board seats and never receiving consideration.
“I need more transparency with respect to these appointments. I applied to all the positions. I have been applying for years and years,” she lamented.