The City of Hoboken only needed one week to hire new directors for communications and community development, with Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s former campaign manager returning to City Hall.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Chris Brown, the city’s principal planner in the community development department, succeeds Brandy Forbes as the head of the department, while Vijay Chaudhuri takes over as communications manager and policy adviser.
That role was previously filled by Santiago Melli-Huber and the city announced he and Forbes would be departing last week.
Brown will oversee all property development in Hoboken, as well as the planning and zoning offices. Meanwhile, Chaudhuri will manage all communications from the City and be the point of contact for all media inquiries.
“Both Chris and Vijay have proven track records of great service to our City, and I am confident that this will continue in their new roles,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“Each of them has the skillset to move our city forward and I am grateful for their willingness to serve our residents.”
Brown will serve as acting director until his confirmation before the city council. His confirmation can take place at the December 5 council meeting. Meanwhile, Chaudhuri’s first day back in City Hall will be the same day.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said she feels Chaudhuri is experienced and is interested to see community development expand and flourish.
“It wasn’t a surprise to hear that Vijay is returning since he clearly brings a lot of experience to the role. I had a good working relationship when he worked for Mayor Zimmer and I hope that will continue under Mayor Bhalla.”
“I like Chris and have worked with him on CDBG funding. With Brandy leaving, we have the opportunity to reposition this role and make it bigger and I want to better understand Chris’ qualifications to lead economic development, redevelopment negotiations and strategic planning for Hoboken.”
Chaudhuri was hired as former Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s chief of staff back in February 2015 and despite leading then-Councilman Bhalla to victory in the 2017 mayoral contest, decided to stay on U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s (D-14) staff in New York.
Crowley was of course infamously upset by Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the June primary, opening up speculation about Chaudhuri’s potential returning to Hoboken.