Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla kicked off his re-election bid last night in front of a big crowd gathered at the Pilsener Haus & Biergarten, channelling Frank Sinatra as he said “the best is yet to come.”
Hoboken Democratic Committee Chair Rachel Hodes served as the emcee for the evening, introducing 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen first.
“Mayor Bhalla’s leadership is proven. Mayor Bhalla’s leadership is needed,” Cohen said, also praising Bhalla’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m grateful for the leadership we have had under Mayor Bhalla, but also my colleagues at the board of ed, my colleagues on the city council, through everything in the last year we’ve had to work together, even when we don’t get along – and we don’t,” joked Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour, who was elected with Bhalla in 2017.
She recalled Bhalla’s decision to shut down the city last March as the public health emergency came to the Mile Square City for the first time, stating that made it clear that Bhalla was the leader Hoboken needs.
Jabbour also pointed out that this administration successfully negotiated settlements to the Monarch project and Union Dry Dock, as well as building and expanding on several parks.
Bhalla recognized his wife and two children as being his biggest and best supporters before thanking the community for coming together during such a tumultuous time over the past 16 months.
While he feels everyone has worked to come together and accomplish a lot during his first time, there is still plenty more to come.
“We’ve made so much progress, but as Frank Sinatra said ‘I really think our best days are ahead of us’ and the best is yet to come with all of your teamwork and all of our efforts. if we unite, we have so much more in common as a family and as a community,” the mayor said.
In an interview, Bhalla, who is currently running unopposed, expressed excitement about the prospect of serving four more years, also cautioning that COVID-10 isn’t over yet.
“On the pandemic, we have to stay focused, there are still variants out there and the best thing to do, and I implore upon the public, is to please get vaccinated. The best way we can reduce the number of variants is to get vaccinated.”
He also noted completing the Union Dry Dock acquisition from New York Waterway and building out a five-acre park in the northwest part of the city as priorities for his next term.
On the state level, the legislature approved their $46.4 billion budget yesterday and one of the add-on items included $1 million for the Hoboken Community Center.
Bhalla gave all of the credit to Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33) for coming through with that allocation.
“I have to give a shoutout and 100 percent credit to Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro. This $1 million would not have happened if not for Annette Chaparro’s day in and day out advocacy.”
Finally, as far as the Palisade Cliffs Protection Cliffs Act goes, Bhalla said he hadn’t had time to thoroughly review the legislation, which now proposed a 10-member preservation council to review developments in the area, but said he’s confident in the 33rd Legislative District’s team.
“We defer to our legislative delegation, in Trenton the 33rd District is well represented and I’m sure whatever the outcome of the legislation, if it’s driven by the 33rd District, it’s intended to protect the interests of the residents of the 33rd District.”
Other dignitaries in attendance included Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco, Board of Education President Sharyn Angley, BOE Vice President Malani Cademartori, Trustee Sheillah Dallara, Trustee Chetali Khanna, Trustee Ailene McGuirk, North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioners Tony Soares and Kurt Gardiner, Hoboken PBA President Marc Marsi, and Acting Fire Chief Anton Peskens.
According to the Bhalla campaign, they raised about $75,000 from around 200 donors, about 140 of which were from Hoboken residents.