In a fairly predictable and telegraphed move, the Hoboken Democratic Committee voted 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher out as their chair and replaced her with Phil Cohen – who went into the meeting as the HDC’s 1st vice chair.Â
Fisher, who was elected as HDC chair in June, said that the past few months since the November mayoral contest have been trying, yet she still feels she has found common ground with Mayor Ravi Bhalla on a number of issues.
She also cited a legal opinion from attorneys from the Hudson County Democratic Organization that said rescinding the local chair is illegal, as is voting by proxy and electing a new chair.
“I could see that it didn’t feel right, but I’m certainly not a lawyer and Robert’s Rules is about a 1,000 pages long. I can tell you that the email I sent out to you earlier, the second I got it, two minutes later, I sent it out to to the executive committee,” Fisher said in front of a crowd of over 40 committee members at the Mile Square Theatre.
“This isn’t been something that I’ve been waiting, trying to sneak attack at the end: this something that the Hudson County Democratic Committee actually took a strong interest in because this is actually precedent setting – this is something that if it happened and it were legal, it would create chaos across the state.”
Fisher later used the example that if state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack had the option to oust current HCDO Chair Vincent Prieto, he would’ve done so already.
Stack has been aggressively campaigning to succeed Prieto as head of the HCDO, securing clear support from Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla – both who also agree with replacing Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
Speaking on behalf of the entire HDC executive committee, 2nd Vice Chair Nora DeBenedetto essentially stated what the committee had said in an email last month: that Fisher has been acting an obstructionist for the organization.
Before the vote, HDC Sergeant-at-Arms Kurt Gardiner spoke in favor of Fisherâ€™s leadership, rebutting much of what DeBenedetto had just said.
“To me, honestly, from my participation in the meetings alone, some of this is news to be as well – somehow that Tiffanie’s an obstructionist, I haven’t seen it,” he began.
“So if you want to vote for new leadership because you feel your leadership should be aligned with the current mayor, I’m not gonna stop you, I’m not gonna tell you to stop it. But I’m telling you that if you’re gonna go on a false narrative that Tiffanie’s an obstructionist, I disagree wholeheartedly.”
Ultimately, the outcome was far from a surprise, with Fisher being rescinded as the chair by a vote of 47-4(1) and being replaced by Cohen by a vote of 49-(1).
Two more votes were taken to upgrade Debenedetto to 1st vice chair and Eileen Carvahlo to 2nd vice chair.
Additionally, the four vacancies on the committee were filled, with former Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her husband Stan Grossbard getting elected to serve as the two representatives in District 5 of Ward 4.
Before calling it a night Cohen, a New York attorney, addressed some of the issues taken up with the committeeâ€™s bylaws.
“Our former chair cast some shade on the bylaws tonight, but let me just say once, in defense of the bylaws, there was no effort, through the bylaw process, to remove Tiffanie Fisher as chair as [early as] January,” he stated.
“It was pretty much a good faith effort to identify typos inconsistencies and things that could be done better … there’s been no hidden agenda with respect to any of this, we all tried to work together, it broke down recently and we moved quickly.”
Cohen, an ally of Bhalla, also mentioned the committee plans on moving forward by helping fundraise for Democratic congressional candidates in the 3rd, 5th and 11th legislative districts: Andy Kim, Josh Gottheimer and Mikie Sherrill, respectively.
Fisher, who left the HDC meeting early to attend a community event, said she still planned on participating in the committee despite being voted out as chair.
The entire meeting, which was streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: