Nearing the end of her term as Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer vetoed putting a runoff election question on the November 2018 ballot, stating the council passed the measure in “an attempt to de-legitimize the election of Mayor Elect [sic] Bhalla.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Although the city council passed an ordinance, by a vote of 7-2, at Wednesday’s meeting to let the voters decide next year if Hoboken will bring back runoff elections, Zimmer nixed that idea earlier today.
“This ordinance was passed in the immediate aftermath of a hotly contested election, in which Mayor Elect [sic] won with approximately 33% of the vote. It was sponsored by the candidate who finished 2nd, almost 500 votes behind,” Zimmer wrote in her veto statement.
“It was adopted by a lame duck City Council, in the last City Council meeting of the year. Every single Councilperson who voted in support of this ordinance was either a losing candidate in the election, or actively supported a losing candidate.”
The local legislation was sponsored by 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, who lost to Zimmer in the 2013 election – the year after runoffs were eliminated by a 58 percent majority.
Therefore, Zimmer did not have to run against Ramos a second time, despite receiving 47 percent of the vote. A runoff election occurs when a candidate does not receive over half the vote.
The outgoing mayor continued to take shots at the council, this time calling out DeFusco by name.
“The hurried way this Ordinance was handled reflects the personal frustration of those dissatisfied with the election result,” Zimmer continued.
” … I suspect the losing candidates would have a far more favorable view of our existing system had they won in November, even if the victory was achieved with as little as 29.5% of the vote, the total received by Councilman DeFusco, who is the sponsor of this Ordinance.”
In a statement released this afternoon, DeFusco was happy to return fire against Zimmer.
“It is incredibly disappointing that Mayor Zimmer has decided to stand in the way of the right of Hoboken residents to choose how our local elections should be conducted,” DeFusco said.
“This measure passed overwhelmingly on the City Council because it is apparent to many people that a process that elects a mayor who is not supported by a majority of the voters is not democratic. This ordinance is about giving Hoboken the chance to vote on this crucial issue, and if the Mayor or anyone else disagrees then they have every right to vote no at the ballot box and campaign against the passage of the referendum.”
The 1st Ward councilman continued that vetoing the measure on the Friday before Christmas shows the “political establishment” does not want to hear the will of the voters.
In a tweet, Bhalla, who voted no against the ordinance along with recent running mate Councilman-at-Large James Doyle, thanked Zimmer for vetoing a measure that was “pushed through during the holiday season.”
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) December 22, 2017
Later in the thread, Zimmer defended her positions against runoff elections since it would lead to brokering political deals – a point Bhalla made during his appearance on Hudson County Review Live last week.
instead of hiring professionals they would promise jobs in exchange for political support to win the election.
— Dawn Zimmer (@dawnzimmernj) December 23, 2017
The Hoboken City Council has until August to reintroduce the ordinance and sources told Hudson County View the wheels are already in motion to get the measure back on the agenda for one of the two council meetings in January.