Hoboken Councilman Ramos is first potential Bhalla mayoral challenger to file with NJ ELEC


Hoboken 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos is the first potential challenger to Mayor Ravi Bhalla to file preliminary paperwork with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC), though he says he is still weighing his options.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I have a long record of accomplishments in Hoboken and the state legislature. There are a lot of things that Hoboken still has to strive for,” Ramos said over the phone this afternoon.

“The past decade has left the city stagnant: our tax increase this year and last year are examples of that and I think I’d be a steady hand to lead it going forward. This is part of us doing our due diligence. I know we have a solid base of support throughout our city and we’ll see what comes from it.”

Ramos filed a D1 form with NJ ELEC on December 2nd, which essentially establishes a campaign account for a new or different office, though there is no mechanism to force a candidate to run for that office.

The councilman also said that “all options are on the table” and that this filing was part of the preparation process heading into 2021, noting that he wasn’t 100 percent committed to running just yet.

A longtime political rival of the incumbent mayor, Ramos and Bhalla actually squared off in the 2011 Democratic primary for state Assembly in the 33rd Legislative District, which Ramos won easily as the candidate backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization.

He served three terms in the assembly before running for mayor in 2013, losing to incumbent Dawn Zimmer in a race where then-4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti headed a third slate.

Ramos would get a taste of revenge in 2015, successfully challenging Occhipinti in a three-way race to get his old gig back.

In 2017, when Bhalla was elected mayor, Ramos endorsed 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who finished in a close second place and had been widely believed to be seeking a rematch in next year’s non-partisan contest.

Two years later when Ramos was defending his council seat, Bhalla endorsed Lisa Sprengle in the 4th Ward, but the incumbent never broke a sweat and won by over 20 points.

A spokeswoman for DeFusco both did not immediately return an inquiry seeking comment while city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said Bhalla is feeling good about his chances of getting re-elected.

“Mayor Bhalla is solely focused on keeping residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and is confident that his record will speak for itself against any and all candidates in next year’s campaign,” he said.

Another possible challenger, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, said she still hasn’t ruled out a mayoral run, but has still made no further commitments beyond that.

Along with the mayor’s seat, Council members-at-Large Vanessa Falco, who ran with DeFusco in 2017, Emily Jabbour, and Jim Doyle – both of whom ran with Bhalla three years ago – are also up for re-election in November 2021.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri.

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  1. Ruben is a proven loser who has the support of losers like HHA commissioners Andrew Impastato and Lavon Smith (whose wife is Ruben’s “Treasurer”). I wonder how many votes Andrew and Lavon can buy for Ruben in the Housing Authority. O and don’t forget all of Ruben’s friends are in jail!

    Also, it is funny to think that Tiffanie has any chance of being elected Mayor. No one knows who she is and her only real claim to fame is that she strongly opposes the Braised Rabbit dish at Anthony David’s.

    But….this is democracy and unless you’re a Republican like Tiffanie, then this will be treated as a fair election.

  2. Much like the city council elections of ’19 and the last mayoral election, there will not be great candidates to choose from, and we will all have to hold our nose while voting.

    That said, given the terrible track record of Ravi and his administration while in office, you couldn’t possibly support his re-election, right?

  3. Ramos doesn’t need any help getting votes in the HHA – that’s his base. The idea that he needs Impastato and Smith to buy HHA votes for him is pretty ludicrous.

    I expect Ravi will win re-election easily no matter who runs – he’s done a great job with Covid among other things – but among his prospective opponents, Ramos, DeFusco and Russo each start of with bases about equal in size – more or less 1500 votes each. The strongest candidate would be whoever can most effectively expand from their base.

    The only way to really find out who that is would be for them all to run and let the best man win.

    As for Fisher, I don’t think she would have much of a shot of finishing first among the opposition candidates since she doesn’t have any meaningful base at all, but she would certainly offer a different perspective for voters to consider.

    • It’s scary, isn’t it? While the administration pumps out covid and quality of life nixle alerts, city hall has practically stopped functioning and the guy responsible might actually get reelected. I wonder which photo op will move the needle more, Cory Booker in a smiling photo op with the mayor or Pete Buttigieg in a smiling photo op with MDF. Bet our director of slander communications is busy typing out a congratulatory email to Mayor Pete right now with the 100% rating by LGBT+ human rights campaign press release attached.

      • What does living outside of Hoboken have to do with caring about what happens in Hoboken? Also, Zimmer was a pretty good mayor who would have easily been reelected again if she’d decided to run again.

        You’ve got an odd set of hangups.

        • Why did Zimmer have a huge fundraiser and weeks later drop out?
          Some folks with dark suits and badges come and knock on her door to interview the tag team mayors?

          • if you think you have all the answers, why don’t you tell us, then? go on, tell us want happened? now’s you’re chance. go.

            but of course, you won’t, because you’ve got stugats.