LETTER: I’m backing Urtecho in Hoboken’s 5th Ward council race, ex-councilman says


In a letter to the editor, former Hoboken 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham explains why he’s backing Liz Urtecho over incumbent Phil Cohen.

Dear Editor,

My family and I are proudly voting for Liz Urtecho for 5th Ward City Councilperson on November 7th, and we strongly encourage you to join us.

Liz Urtecho has demonstrated leadership with a “take charge” attitude that has tremendously benefited the community. Liz engages the community for input, and when there is an issue, she fights to make a change.

Once she takes on a challenge, she doesn’t stop until she delivers results. I saw this firsthand a few years ago when she called on me after being hit by a car. We worked together to make sure that intersection was safer, so no one had to endure what she did.

Most recently, when her council representative would not listen to the concerns of the community, Liz spearheaded the fight to stop a marijuana dispensary from opening across the street from a school!

It’s the law that dispensaries are not permitted within 600 feet of a school! The current councilperson is an attorney, and don’t you think he’d know better?

This level of dedication and effective community organizing is not surprising to me and my family; we have known Liz and her family for 20 years in Hoboken.

She is dedicated and driven in everything she does from raising funds for her children’s schools to competing in triathlons and ironman competitions.

Hoboken needs strong and more independent leadership that gets things done in a collaborative fashion, and Liz is that person.

Liz and her strong track record stand in stark contrast to our current representative: Phil Cohen.

As I mentioned, when parents in the community stood up to express concerns about the marijuana dispensary so close to a school attended by children as young as 5 years old, Councilman Cohen tried to hide his support and obfuscate the issue.

He was less interested in representing the interests of the community and more interested in carrying water for the Mayor. Thankfully, Liz pushed for transparency for our community and won.

This issue speaks to the larger problem with Councilman Phil Cohen, which is that he supports the Mayor’s agenda rather than the community’s needs.

What’s worse is that he prefers to play political games rather than be open and transparent with us about it.

One of Phil’s most egregious acts was to sponsor legislation that undid the important campaign finance reform I sponsored and worked hard to pass ten years ago.

This change has opened up Hoboken’s elections to outside money, which has allowed Phil and the Mayor to amass a large war chest.

Phil also voted for a huge salary increase of more than 20% for himself and his staff even though Hoboken City Councilmembers were already overpaid (per NJ Municipal Salary Report).

But increasing his salary was just one of several sneaky moves he made during COVID.

While we were distracted by the pandemic, he was plotting with the Mayor to carve up Hoboken, giving it away to the highest bidders through developer-driven projects across our City.

There’s never been a large-scale development that Phil hasn’t liked. Unfortunately, while these developers make massive profits from these projects, it’s the people of Hoboken who pay the price.

We cannot afford another four years of this. We need a change. Liz Urtecho listens, she fights, and she delivers.

On November 7th, I encourage you to vote for Liz Urtecho for Hoboken City Council in the 5th Ward.


Peter Cunningham
Former Hoboken 5th Ward Councilman

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. Cunningham is correct about the pay to play campaign finance reform he championed. He fought the Old Guard led by Russo which shot it down over for many months. Hoboken campaign finance reform finally passed in July 2011, the very day Councilwoman Jen Giattino took the step up to the dais as the Sixth Ward Council representative. She’s made a big difference in Hoboken from day one and this was one of her first votes.

    Then the Ravi-Russo Alliance undid it all. A lot of blood, sweat and tears for Hoboken’s independence was run over by a bus, the Ravi-Russo Old Guard bus.

    On Tuesday, you get to decide Hoboken. Don’t waste the opportunity.

  2. Thank you, Peter, for reminding us of the egregious “Pay to Play” legislation that undid the important campaign finance reform that you and so many others worked hard to pass years ago. With all the recent chatter about rats, parklets, rent control, etc, it’s easy to forget about some of these earlier actions, which, as you say, have “allowed Phil and the Mayor to amass a large war chest.” It’s time for some new, independent voices on our City Council, and I encourage all of my 5th Ward neighbors to vote for Liz Urtecho. She’s got my vote!