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.”
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.