LETTER: Hoboken 5th Ward Councilman Cohen shouldn’t be re-elected, but recall unnecessary


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis said that while 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen shouldn’t be re-elected next year, a recall effort is unnecessary.

Hoboken 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen. Facebook photo.

Dear Editor,

Recently a recall effort has been announced in Hoboken’s 5th Ward for Councilman Phil Cohen. As a resident of the 5th Ward, I would like a new councilperson who reflects my values but having a recall election is the wrong way to go about this.

Recalls should only be used in extreme cases, rather than simply because of policy disagreements. Elected officials should be recalled for misconduct such as for crimes or sexual harassment.

Additionally, elected officials who have radically different policy proposals after getting elected should be recalled as well such as the unsuccessful recall attempt against former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker after he passed a radical law weakening public sector employee unions.

This is not the case with Councilman Cohen who was elected as part of Mayor Bhalla’s team in 2019, and has been a staunch defender of Bhalla’s agenda.

As someone who voted and knocked on doors for Team Bhalla’s slate in 2021, I made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean that Mayor Bhalla and Council members Doyle, Jabbour, and Quintero should be recalled.

I supported the wrong slate of candidates last year, and I should pay the price. Elections have consequences.

Councilman Cohen is a nice guy, but the issue is that he was the deciding vote on increasing campaign contribution limits from $500 to $7200 for unions and increasing his salary 45% after the November 2021 election.

Cohen is also a vocal advocate for the ill-advised proposal for a $192 million municipal services complex that will cost an additional $40 million to acquire in eminent domain costs.

Additionally, Phil Cohen was a public supporter of the failed $241 million high school bond referendum, which was developed without public input and like the proposed municipal complex, is not cost-effective.

Councilman Cohen is actively working against good government efforts, and he is not a good steward of taxpayer money, but that is not enough of a rationale for not letting him complete the remaining year and a half of his four-year council term.

I am disappointed in the recall attempt, and as a 5th Ward resident, I would prefer to vote out Phil Cohen in November 2023 rather than in a recall election.

Kevin Davis
Hoboken 5th Ward resident

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  1. If someone’s committing crimes or sexually harassing people, they shouldn’t be recalled, they should be walked out in handcuffs by the AG.

    • Actually we’re fed up angry taxpayers and many of us have voted for reform since Peter Cunningham first ran in 2007. I voted for Peter 3 times, for Dawn twice, and for Ravi twice. I’ve known Phil for years and voted for him with enthusiasm when he ran for freeholder and then for Council. But feel free to dismiss us as cranks crackpots and trolls as we pile up the signatures.

  2. To be clear, I am not in favor of the recall initiative. To be equally clear, I am not in favor of the way the administration is operating (excessive development projects without closure, out of control spending, poor execution of cannabis plan etc.) and see this more as a referendum on Team Bhalla. Word around town says that 3 members of the school board will be the first dominoes to fall come November — then on to the 2023 Ward elections…. Should be quite an interesting 18 months…..

    • Everybody’s got one. Thank you for sharing yours. Now wipe and flush.

      Not happy with our elected officials? That’s what elections are for. Vote.

      As for predicting “dominoes to fall” and so-called “word around town”– an echo chamber of political operatives and wannabes vying for power does not an electorate make.

  3. I am unclear on the value and need of a recall; but, it is a process tied directly to the voice, will and actions of residents. With the back drop of a Council Person who has NEVER voted out of step with the administration, and an administration that has not felt it necessary to consult the public on spending plans that sum up to almost $1 Billion in taxpayer commitments and dramatically impact the 5th Ward– it will be interesting to see how residents really feel. I look forward to seeing the raw reality, rather than listening to a few voices explain how others feel.

  4. peter was at the forefront of reform before he was elected in the early 2000s and then in the latter part of that decade and through the next 12 years as an elected council member. Mayor Zimmer who was not a traditional politician walked and talked the talk for 9/10ths of her time before she handed it off to a successor who loves every minute of being in politics and what they bring