Hoboken Council President/mayoral hopeful Jen Giattino announced her council slate of Sal Starace, Jason Ellis and Jim Aibel at a press conference in Church Square Park this afternoon.
“Three long time Hobokenites I have learned from are Sal Starace, Jason Ellis, and the chairman of the zoning board, Jim Aibel. I am so proud to introduce them as my at-large council running mates,” said Giattino.
Church Square Park, a popular staple of the 6th Ward, was also coincidentally the location where then-Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia announced he would challenge Giattino for her seat two years ago.
Giattino of course won that election and is now one of several candidates heading into the November 7th municipal elections with lofty expectations.
Starace, a sheet metal worker who is also trained to help union members dealing with drug and alcohol issues, said he was particularly impressed with Giattino’s commitment to pedestrian safety due to the way he lost his mother.
“On a personal note, I’m particularly moved by Jen’s focus on pedestrian safety. I lose my mom in 2013, she was struck by a car in Staten Island. Jen understands that the decisions we make have real world consequences in people’s lives.”
Ellis, a wealth advisor at Vision Retirement in Ridgewood, began by explaining that he “struggled to find a place that I belong” throughout his life: losing his mother at age seven and growing up with his grandparents and later his dad and stepmom.
Despite going experiencing tough times at a young age, Ellis now says he’s proud to call Hoboken home and has some specific ideas on how he’d like to see the city thrive if elected to the council.
“Why don’t we consider taking Paterson Plank Road into Hoboken, over the Light Rail, so there’s another entry and exit point – into and out of this city?,” Ellis asked.
“Also, there’s a lot of traffic: why don’t we add some additional stop signs and add traffic cops during high volume hours to make sure everybody’s safe on the streets.”
Aibel, the one with the most governmental experience out of the three council candidates, said keeping a watchful eye on overdevelopment and overcrowding was high on his priority list.
“Overdevelopment and overcrowding poses the single greatest threat to our quality of life and I’m sad to say I think it is self-inflicted,” stated Aibel.
“The mayor and the reform council have made a great number of accomplishments over the past eight years, but despite good intentions, our 2004 Master Plan has not been updated to reflect the framework for future development.”
Giattino, considered one of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s top allies when she bested Garcia in 2015, is now on the outs after the incumbent endorsed Bhalla to succeed her and the councilwoman decided to throw her hat into the race anyway.
While many Zimmer supporters, who proudly refer to themselves as reformers, don’t fully understand why two reform teams would run in this election, Giattino said stark differences between the two slates (Bhalla revealed his slate earlier this month) exist.
“Some claims their is no difference between our agenda and the one endorsed by the other reform slate. There are substantial differences, two that we have just highlighted,” Giattino said.
“Raising the standard of city services and constituent services and my commitment to quickly present the council with zoning ordinances to manage our growth … to make sure Hoboken remains livable for all residents and businesses. The other slate makes no such promise.”
Rob Horowitz, a spokesman for Team Bhalla, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.