Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla banked approximately $100,000 at the Pilsener Haus & Biergarten for a belated birthday bash last night.
“He’s a good mayor, he’s a humble person: when he tells you something that he’s going to do in a very low, calm, easy-going voice, he does what he says he’s going to do,” former Mayor Dave Roberts, who emceed the brief event program, said of Bhalla.
“When you look around, you see the electeds who are here from different cities, from the county, when you see members of labor here, when you see so many folks from lawyers, developers: everyone’s here to celebrate a wonderful, terrific mayor,” stated 8th District congressional candidate Rob Menendez.
Bhalla, who turned 49 on May 10th, served on the city council for eight years before winning the open mayor’s seat in 2017 in a hotly contested race.
He then ran without opposition last year, where he also gained the majority of the city council for the first time, as noted by Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour.
“I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the council for the last four years and when it started, I was elected and sort of a team of two you might say, and Councilman Doyle and I started working together and I started to learn the ropes,” she began.
“And we were trying to do our best to advocate for the vision of our mayor on the council. Fast forward and we are now what I would like to say a team of five and we’ve been able to get a lot done in that and it hasn’t been easy, we don’t always agree: that’s part of politics.”
Assistant Corporation Counsel John Allen said several times that it was an honor to work with Bhalla, recalling back in March 2020 that he was steadfast in his commitment to shutting down the city to slow the spread of COVID-19, despite his closest advisors telling him that the political backlash would be significant.
He also acknowledged that Bhalla has come a long way politically since running for mayor the first time.
“In 2017, some whispered that Ravi Bhalla was unelectable. Well, in 2021, he went from unelectable to unopposed.”
After expressing condolences over the massacre at a Texas elementary school that left 21 dead, including 19 children, Bhalla said that right now his administration is focused on leaving on imprint on the city that lasts for generations to come.
“Then there’s also the bigger vision of what our communities gonna look like not just in the next term, but four years from now, 40 years from now, generations from now, and that’s where our vision comes in, that’s where thinking big comes in,” the mayor explained.
“That’s where my predecessor thought about the Northwest Park, thought about Rebuild by Design. That’s where we’re thinking about Union Dry Dock, the site right ahead of me which will be a beautiful municipal complex where we can house our public safety apparatus.”
The Poggi Press site, located at 1501 Adams St., is directly across the street from the Pilsener Haus and is the administration’s preferred site for a roughly $192.5 million public safety complex, which would also house the department of public works, municipal court, council chambers, and much more.
For the time being, the project is stalled since a $44 million bonding measure does not have the six votes needed to clear the council, potentially necessitating a temporary DPW facility to fulfill the terms of the Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Hudson County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), Council President Mike Russo, Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, as well as Board of Education Trustees Sheillah Dallara and Chetali Khanna.
Advisors to Bhalla’s campaign said that he cracked six figures in contributions from the event. According to his report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) on April 17th, the mayor had $101,251.53 cash on hand.