Hoboken Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla will be Hoboken’s first Sikh mayor after securing about 34 percent of the vote on Election Day, vowing to keep taxes stable, improve infrastructure and following Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s lead on developing open land.
“I’m just very humbled and grateful to the people of Hoboken for giving me the opportunity to serve. It’s a privilege and an honor and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves next year and moving Hoboken forward in the right direction,” Bhalla told Hudson County View last night in an interviewed that aired live on our Facebook page.
Bhalla simultaneously announced his candidacy in late June, when Mayor Dawn Zimmer confirmed she had changed course and would not be seeking a third term. She said she instead would be supporting Bhalla’s candidacy.
In a six-person field, Bhalla faced name challengers in 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Council President Jen Giattino and Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5).
While DeFusco put up a fight, scoring 4,116 votes and over 29 percent of the vote, Bhalla was declared the winner around 10 p.m. with 4,781 votes and over 34 percent of the vote, according to the machine vote tallies provided by the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.
Late Friday night, a campaign flyer with Bhalla’s picture that said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” received international news coverage.
Hoboken’s next mayor said that he was surprised the election took that turn, but emphasized it did not reflect the Mile Square City as a whole.
“That’s not something that I was expecting. It was very disappointing, obviously, for me and my family. That said, that’s not what Hoboken is all about. Hoboken is a very welcoming and very diverse community: I wouldn’t be standing here as mayor-elect if it wasn’t,” said Bhalla.
When asked what a few of his top priorities as mayor would be, Bhalla said he plans to keep taxes stable and making good of his promise to be the “infrastructure mayor.”
“I want to make sure we focus on fiscal responsibility, keeping our tax levy stable. I also want to focus on infrastructure: making sure that mass transit, our streets and roads, water mains are in better order and quality of life,” expressed Bhalla, indicating he wanted to continue to develop open space as Zimmer did.
While Team Bhalla undeniably had a great night, also getting James Doyle (an incumbent) and Emily Jabbour (a newcomer) elected to the council, it wasn’t quite perfect as Vanessa Falco snagged the last council-at-large seat.
Falco, an unsuccessful former board of education candidate, ran with DeFusco.