In final days as mayor, Zimmer vetoes putting runoff question on 2018 ballot


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.”

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.

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.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. but the veto was pushed through too. in any case, no harm in more discussion of this first. it’s a shame that so much nastiness erupted on all sides, no one can try to claim higher ground. i hope our leaders govern better than this sad display in the last few months, especially the guy at the top. he has a chance to do better than what’s been going on with the pettiness on all sides but only time will tell if he grows.

    • No the veto wasn’t “pushed through too.” By law, every ordinance must be signed or vetoed by the mayor within 10 days after adoption. The timetable for the mayor’s decision was dictated by the timetable chosen by Councilman DeFusco and his followers.

      As you say, more discussion is better which if you read the Mayor’s veto statement was her point.

      The pros and cons of asking the voters to revisit this 5 years after the voters already decisively decided it are subject to legitimate debate. The merits of pushing this through at the last meeting of the year with no consideration of the pros and cons are not.

      I hope decisions like this do not become the norm for what looks like it will be a DeFusco led council majority. If so, the days of the endless grandstanding of the Beth Mason led Council of No will have truly returned.

      • I stand by my statement. She has always stared down and defeated the bad guys. She’s taken her share of flack for having once worked with Raia, Amato and Mason. Fisher, Giattino and Cunningham are on track to being widely seen as similarly regrettable baggage in the rear view mirror.

      • How about the payout to another Hispanic Director fired during her tenure?
        Why was her husband Stan Grossbard sending emails to commissioners advising one on pernell issues>

    • Dawn never got flack for working with Raia, Amato and Mason. She got flack for turning her back on allies and ramming through items without answering fundamental questions like on the $9 million Suez debacle.

      She failed to complete basic tasks as only two block of Washington St. are paved and the project is millions over budget. She was on track to more failure in a third term but her council allies stood by her even as she began turning on them for asking basic financial questions on the 7th & Jackson project.

      Now Dawn leaves working to block voters from reviewing runoffs this November. Council voted overwhelmingly to give voters that choice. They’ll do it again no matter how much Ravi Bhalla will cry against the voters.

  2. While it always amusing when Councilman DeFusco rants and raves, when you look at the same Hoboken old guard politicos who were behind behind crooked Cammarano were also pushing for him in the last election you understand he need those small turnout elections to staying office.

  3. 7 members of the council — five of whom were supported by the mayor and Bhalla all voted for this. Let’s call a spade a spade — the only way for Bhalla and Zimmer to win is by eliminating the runoff and forcing spoilers (Occhipinti in 2014 and Nason/Romano in 2017) without them, they’d be toast.

    The only reason the mayor vetoed at 5pm on the Friday of Christmas is she’s taking the entire week between the holidays off. She could’ve spoken to council members but she’ll be in the poconos next week.

    What is wrong with letting voters decide? I personally think ranked choice voting is a good idea but it’s not permitted yet, so in the interim let’s let two candidates debate the issues.

    But that’s not what 32.5 percent Bhalla wants!

  4. Face it Mayor Zimmer was able to easily shut down the losers . 9500 Hoboken voters agreed and voted for one election with no runoffs.

    Let us not forget that DeFusco and Ramos were backed by the last remnants of Hoboken’s old guard political machine. The same sleazy people who were behind Hoboken’s crooked Mayor Cammarano.

    On the bright side we can all look forward to another comically, meaningless DeFusco overly dramatic fit at the January City Council meeting.

    • Dawn didn’t shut down any option for the voters, she only delayed it.
      So next month she makes Ravi Bhalla look inept, weak and foolish trying to stop the voters deciding.

      Talk about dumb. The only people cheering this are absolute morons who back this desperate bid for power.

  5. Is there a reason for a lame duck council to pass something like this at the last meeting of the year while people are focused on the Holidays? If this is a good idea it should enjoy public debate and scrutiny. Voters decided this issue just a few short years ago and we have information on how Jersey City December run offs fare. I’d expect the council the look at the information and have a public informed debate.

    Also we’ll have two need council-people with fresh opinions on the subject who can and should be part of any debate.

    • The ordinance was passed in the full month of December at two meetings early and later in the month. The City Council are not lame ducks; the mayor is the lame duck.

      The last decision was made five years ago and many in Hoboken did not live or vote here. The 2018 Hoboken voters will decide on runoffs not the lame duck Dawn.

      The vote will not change in January. It will only make Ravi look weak as the council will vote 7-2 again to let voters go to the polls in November and choose if they want runoffs or not by referendum.

      • It’s a lame duck council, meaning not all the members will be back next year. This is a fairly straightforward concept; neither is suggesting that a government body after an election should not make big changes rather they should be humble and respect the will of the voters to allow the newly elected body to pass or not pass legislation.

        There are a number of voices that may not have been heard on this issue as the lame duck council passed it during the holidays when people are focused on family. I think a number of people will like to give this issue and the council people putting it forward their full attention come the new year. I’m sure the council will embrace this attention and scrutiny.

  6. The ordinance will have 10 months of debate. What are the people that are having hissy fists over the passage of this ordinance so worried about it? The council didn’t vote for runoffs, they voted to allow the citizens, now that they have had two opportunities to vote for a mayor without a runoff, to express their view on if they think the change is the better way to elect our representatives.

  7. Wow, Zimmer really knows how to make herself look like a petty child.
    She seems to forget that Ravi only has 2 votes on the council, better start making nice to the people who have your political legacy in your hands.
    It’s nice to say you’ll stand up to Trump, ( already failed at his first chance with the tax reform bill )
    But now he needs diplomacy, and so far Dawn and whoever wrote that LindaLou-like veto really need to grow up!
    Talking about deals, how many jobs has Bhalla promised at the Library, Constituent Services Director post and dozens of law firms?

    If Zimmer wants to point to past corruption, she might want to check Ravi’s transition committee chairs. One of the chairs voted for the Suez contract she blames for all her financial problems, another is DeFusco and another is Falco.

  8. IMHO all of you are giving Mayor Zimmer more credit than she deserves on this. She checked out of being mayor months ago. Her husband is the voice behind all her actions. Is this a surprise to anyone? Remember Stan’s emails in Carmelo’s lawsuit that the HHA just settled for $700,000? He was a major voice of the Zimmer Bhalla campaign. He is also the author of all the comments on GA as numberscruncher and MSV as zomborgland which still continue. Do you think Mayor Zimmer would use the word losing / loser as many times in a public statement as was in her veto letter? Stan seems to be trying to be a loyal husband by trying to protect the legacy of his wife. Kinda admirable. His emotions have gotten the best of him and his actions are now more impulsive than thought out. I like Mayor Zimmer and have been her supporter since she was on city council. She was the right breath of fresh air the city needed at the right time. In the last year or so it became evident that the job was too much for her. Its a shame that her husband is casting such a negative tone on her prior successes. I wish her success in whatever is next for her.