Hoboken Mayor Bhalla writes off Cohen recall attempt as ‘a political stunt’ and ‘a joke’


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla doesn’t appear to be sweating a recall attempt against 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, writing off the effort as “a political stunt” and “a joke.”

Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Yeah I guess politics always has its silly season and I think this is a prime example of a political stunt. You know, people in America are free to do whatever they want, they could try to create a circus, but frankly, it’s a joke,” Bhalla said in an interview during a fundraiser Tuesday evening.

“I think the people will see right through it. I think it’s a credit to Phil Cohen as councilman, they wouldn’t be trying to do this if he wasn’t doing such a great job representing his constituents: his newsletters, they do interactive events, so Phil is a great councilman and I think he’s being targeted because of his competence, because he’s a great councilman.”

On Tuesday morning, a three-person committee filed a notice of intention to recall Cohen, claiming in a statement of the committee that “he has prioritized special interests before our own,” as HCV first reported.

The majority of the particulars of how a successful recall would work are still being sorted out, though it is known that the committee would have to submit valid signatures from 25 percent of voters who voted in the last general election within a time frame of 160 days.

As to which election they will look to as a reference point, as well as when the special election would be held, remains up in the air.

Cohen ran with Bhalla in 2019 and was the only non-incumbent to win his race, succeeding Peter Cunningham, who opted to retire after three terms. Cohen has already announced his intention to seek re-election next November.

Recall elections in New Jersey have not been particularly successful, with the most recent one in Hudson County being when Albio Sires was able to recall West New York Mayor Anthony DeFino in 1993, though DeFino and his board of commissioners still ended up winning the special election.

In late 2009, Felix Roque began to try and recall then-West New York Mayor Sal Vega and his commissioners. While the effort was unsuccessful, Roque and his slate swept Vega in the May 2011 municipal elections.

Then-Commissioner Count Wiley spearheaded a recall against Roque in 2012, though the effort fizzled out by early the following year and Team Roque ultimately got re-elected in 2015.

Officials and politicos alike told HCV they cannot remember a recall effort taking place in Mile Square City history.

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  1. The only joke is the mayor and his administration; and this is a prime example of his arrogance. I think this effort has real legs, and I applaud them for fighting for their ward and breaking up this corrupt team that is full of empty promises and zero delivery.

    Seriously: can anyone name ONE thing this mayor has delivered? He’s all about himself on the national stage: COVID, BLM, and abortion, etc. with nothing for Hoboken citizens, but empty promises.

    Remember the YMCA pool? How about the Hoboken Hilton downtown? And the Union Dry Dock is stalled – how about an update on that? These “parks” will never be built and we, the taxpayers of Hoboken, will be left holding the “Bhalla Bag.”

    Good luck to the recall team!

    • You’re right, he’s just been sitting in City Hall twiddling his thumbs. Let’s not discuss any of these accomplishments:
      – Construction on the Northwest Resiliency Park
      – Rebuild by Design flood protection project
      – Replaced aging water mains
      – Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign
      – Completed the boat removal project

      All of this with a global pandemic taking up the majority of his first term. And yes, he was put into a national spotlight for his handling of COVID, because he had the guts to make tough decisions that kept our city safer than most. He’s not perfect. Not even close but I’m sure glad he’s at the helm versus all of those people you think would have done a better job but had the “courage not to run.”

      • NW Resiliency Park was Former Mayor Zimmer’s project she got the land and the much of the grants and funding. Under Mayor Bhalla it is a year late and millions over budget.

        Again Zimmer Admin pushed Suez to do the upgrades and come back to the table on funding.

        The after much needless delay and public and City Council demands for action grant money was found. Bhalla made time to be on TV to take credit.

        The Vision Zero is not a new idea again started here in Hoboken by Mayor Zimmer who also found much of the original grant funding.

        Ravi Bhalla’s greatest achievement was to be hand picked by Mayor Zimmer to replace her as Hoboken’s Mayor.

      • – Construction on the Northwest Resiliency Park: INCOMPLETE and LATE
        – Rebuild by Design flood protection project: INCOMPLETE and LATE
        – Replaced aging water mains: 14 WATER MAIN BREAKS in LESS THAN 2 MONTHS!
        – Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign: ACCIDENTS UP and NO ENFORCEMENT
        – Completed the boat removal project: TIFFANIE FISHER and FEDERAL GRANT

  2. Oh 100 percent, it’s gonna get done one way or another. In terms of how, we’re just gonna go through the process and that process of democracy.

    “It’s like making sausage: it’s never easy, sometimes it’s messy, but we are 1,000 percent committed to uplifting our city employees: our fire, police, essential workers, people who work on the front lines every day to protect our residents. Those are the people that this recall process is gonna benefit, as well as the residents. There’s so much vision and potential behind this recall process: there’s no way it’s not gonna happen.

    • This stunt reeks of Tiffanie’s pathetic attempts to win something. Fortunately for Hoboken, she typically fails at these efforts. No shot this succeeds.

      • she was part of the boat removal, lets not forget that accomplishment!! Oh wait of course she lives in the tea house were it affected her luxury skyline water view. Damn she was thinking of herself again.

        • CW Fisher was and is looking out for the best interest of the people in her Ward.
          The usual knee jerk hatred of her from Mayor Bhalla’s attack team is unfortunate and very telling and less than honorable tone set by their leader and those he choses to surround himself.

          • Completely agree on this. Too much has been done behind closed doors and revealed at times when reversing or changing course becomes difficult or costly. We learned about the school board plan from Ms Fisher, not the Mayor and appreciate her willingness to call out BS when she sees it.

  3. I think this recall is a WIN WIN for the 5th Ward and for Hoboken more broadly. WIN WIN.

    This is a once in a generation opportunity to elevate and uplift our 5th Ward residents and our property values. If we wait any longer, the costs are only going to get higher. We have to strike while the iron is hot. There is, in this recall, what I would call a “Fierce Urgency of Now.” We have to sign the petition to support our residents, support our affordability, support our community now, and that means over the next 5 months as we recall Phil Cohen.


    • What is the once in a generation opportunity? Please be specific. What are the elements of the opportunity? What changed so that it is possible now but wasn’t before?

      You say you want to uplift property value and support affordability. Won’t rising real estate make things less affordable? Please clarify.

      You are very convinced that this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it. But you provide no specifics.

    • Even if the recall petition only gets gets traction it will push Cohen to spend more time and money to court and address the real local issues of the Fifth Ward voters. That is a good thing for those who live in there. Even though I suspect that Cohen-Bhalla has very deep pockets with an even greater fund raising potential to hold on to the City Council seat. I will sign the petition as it is would be a win-win.

  4. I guess the thing I’m struggling to understand about this recall effort is–why? What are the specific criticisms of Cohen? Do they have particular reasons for why this has to be a recall and they can’t just wait until the November election? Even the anti-Bhalla commenters don’t seem to have anything specific to say about Cohen. It’s a total waste of time and resources, IMO, to recall someone just because you don’t like some of their votes. Whether you love or hate Cohen, you can’t argue that he is an absentee councilman, and he’s not accused of any crimes that I know of. So what is the point of a recall?

    • While I tend to agree that this recall effort is more theater than substance, I also believe that Mr. Cohen should be concerned about a loss of trust among his uptown base. His most recent letter about Cannabis backlash being driven by “stigmatization” rather than genuine concern for the city and ward rang pretty hollow, and has many residents up in arms. He was also on the wrong side of the school board vote and appears to be in lock step with the Mayor on the Municipal Complex – which would probably not clear a referendum if it were held today. The bigger “joke” in all this was the survey suggesting that the complex was supported by a vast majority of the public. Most of the public doesn’t “hate” Ravi, Phil, Tiffanie et. al — we just want a professionally run city…..

      • sounds to me like he might be losing support in his ward. That will be a big problem for him next November, when he faces re-election. But it is not like he lied to anyone about his support of cannabis businesses in Hoboken. Maybe some residents weren’t paying attention, but hopefully they will pay more attention in the future. I think it’s all a bit silly to waste all this time and resources on a recall just because nobody cared enough about municipal elections until it affected them.

        And just for the record, Cohen is right. The cannabis backlash IS about stigmatization. The space they’re proposing a dispensary used to be a bar. Nobody batted an eye about that.

    • From what I heard from people in his ward, there was a neighborhood meeting called because people felt like they were not being heard/represented regarding cannibis in their ward. After that meeting, Cohen sent out his newsletter and implied that their concerns were being driven by bigotry and fear. Feeling on the street is that he only cares what Ravi thinks and does what Ravi directs him to without regard for his constituents.

      • Doubling down on after his highly controversial and tone deaf support of Mayor Fulop’s 14th Street Hoboken cannabis store against the wishes of the area residents, Cohen is again promoting a cannabis industry sales woman on his “coffee” with Cohen.