LETTER: Raia verdict shows its time to declare an independent Hoboken Housing Authority


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken Housing Authority Vice Chairman James Sanford says that Frank Raia’s conviction of vote-by-mail fraud shows it’s time to declare an independent HHA.

Dear Hoboken Residents and City Council Candidates,

For the past 6 years I’ve served as a Commissioner on the Hoboken Housing Authority Board.

Last May I was elected to serve another term as Vice Chair of the HHA. As a public housing
advocate I am on the front line defending the HHA, our staff, and our residents. The needs of HHA residents must come first!

The needs of politicians are far from first!

Now a jury has confirmed what many of us have long suspected in Hoboken; illegal vote buying operations targeting HHA residents do exist! The blatant shameless corruption of our democratic process must end. Preying upon HHA residents must stop!

When I joined the HHA it was a very dark time. Imagine being a resident without a lock on your door. Now imagine being told to “vote the right way” or else. Between the false choice of cash for votes or eviction from your home; what would you do?

I hate that the most vulnerable members of our community endured this rampant corruption.

And, I have nothing but contempt for the politicians who engage in these manipulative schemes.

We should all feel indignation for these people who think that everyone has a price, elections are for sale, and citizens likes us are just rubes waiting to be easily fooled again.

When we needed a new Executive Director I hired a competent professional from outside of
New Jersey. Together we have worked to improve the living conditions of HHA residents.

Unfortunately, success is fleeting without public support. Vigilance is the price we pay for the cost of corruption.

Our residents have the right to be safe, left alone, and free to vote for whomever THEY choose.

I will not stand for any form of intimidation, retaliation, or coercion of HHA residents and staff!

Therefore, to all members of our community, please follow my lead in calling on all candidates running for Hoboken City Council to sign the following pledge:

1. Unequivocally denounce any GOTV campaign and similarly organized schemes that pay voters to volunteer for a candidate or issue based campaign.

2. Refrain from campaigning on HHA property or at HHA sponsored events.

3. Commit to an apolitical HHA where both residents and staff are free from political coercion, intimidation, and interference.

4. Donate all money received from Mr. Raia, his affiliated third party entities, and any other entity or person affiliated with similar paid voter volunteer schemes. Further, that all donations be made directly to the Hoboken Housing Authority as contrition for the many years of serial abuses committed against HHA residents and our community at large.

5. That all city council candidates who sign this pledge will hold accountable all candidates who fail to honor this pledge.

Hoboken has been through enough of this corruption. As an unpaid volunteer fighting for our community; I have had enough! Again, join with me in defending the HHA and declaring our freedom from public corruption!

Thank you,

James Sanford
Vice Chair
Hoboken Housing Authority

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  1. If you’ve “had enough” why did you fail to identify the people who have racked up the most suspicious paid worker to VBM ratios in the past several elections? Why don’t you mention which wards HHA is concentrated in and the candidates operating there? Easy to do. Not interested I guess.

  2. Residents of the HHA have been trained to see election days are pay days. Who are the perpetrators of the vote buying schemes ? It is easy to figure out by simply looking at who has the money to be able to make the payments and the ELEC reports and numbers of absentee ballots. Those with the most votes that correlate to election payments and VBM are the best guess for who is buying votes. It will happen in November even after the recent voter fraud convictions.

  3. The practice buying votes in low income areas effect much more that the outcomes of elections in the Wards they are in. The outcome of city wide elections can be altered with a few hundred paid for votes. Mayoral, City Council at Large, County Freeholder elections and referendum votes can and have been decided by voter fraud.

  4. Sanford is an honest man and deserves credit and support for this bold stance. It speaks volumes that the political opportunist who ranks above him on the board and normally misses no opportunity to be a blowhard offers nothing but crickets on this important issue.

  5. Will Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos answer James Sanford’s challenge as his political base is centered almost entirely in the HHA ?

    First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco who had taken $9,400 from Frank Raia and had Ryan Yacco, Raia’s money distributor, as his campaign manager until last week trail and conviction, was doing damage control last week. At one polite donating some of the tainted money to an organization he controls. Ramos and DeFusco have intermingled their political campaigns and alliances.

  6. Didn’t this clown support Occhipinti against Lenz in the 4th Ward when Tim was backed by Raia and Mason?
    All those VBM’s, late night street meetings with Ma Russo (RIP) , Lane, Sara, and all the Zimmer haters. Thank them for Raia.
    James, go back to the kid’s table.

    • Thanks for the history lesson but the only history lesson relevant here is the history of exploitation of HHA residents that Mr. Sanford accurately alludes to.

      For too long, HHA residents have been both bribed and bullied to vote in every local election.

      Raia may be the only one convicted (so far) but everyone with even a small understanding of the Hoboken political scene over the past 15 years, and the roles played by people like Carmelo Garcia, Chris Campos and Ruben Ramos, knows the problem of exploitation is hardly limited to Mr. Raia.

      • Like when you met with Carmelo Garcia and emailed Jake to suggest how to fire the guy. Then Bingo the HHA has to pay out $750000 to CG.
        You should stop now Shadowstan.
        Go back to your cave.
        Reform lives without you

      • Confession is good for the soul. Now, about your 2009 campaign reports sans Pupie and the hundreds of HHA residents paid in that election…

        Please, continue.