Despite hosting competing fundraisers last night, Hoboken Councilmen Mike DeFusco and Ravi Bhalla say all is well on the city council as a pivotal November mayoral election looms.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, a rumored mayoral candidate, packed Cadillac Cantina with a diverse group of supporters – including Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Assembly colleagues Raj Mukherji and Annette Chaparro (both D-33).
4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos introduced DeFusco to the room before one of the councilâ€™s freshest faces thanked everyone for their continued support.
“When Ruben was rolling down the list of everybody that’s in this room tonight, these are people that, I moved to town and these were folks I looked up to,” he began.
“The mayor, Ruben himself, Freeholder [Anthony] Romano (D-5), [former] state Senator [Bernie] Kenny, these are individuals that have really shaped the size, the scope and the livability of the town we know and love.”
DeFusco originally planned on having Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop as his special guest of the evening, but Fulop had to council as the timing conflicted with his first 2017 State of the City address.
Speaking one-on-one with Hudson County View, DeFusco said he looks forward to continuing to work with Zimmer, but stopped short of endorsing her re-election campaign.
“There’s a lot of conversations that need to go on in terms of issues that are facing the 1st Ward. I think the mayor’s done a good job advocating for her platform items,” he explained.
“I’m trying to push her understand complementary platform items that will help build my base in the 1st Ward. So, we’re working together right now and I hope to continue the conversation and I hope to see some tangible changes in the 1st [Ward] over the next couple months and we’ll see from there.”
When asked how he and Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla scheduled events on the same night at the same time, DeFusco was extremely complimentary of Bhalla and attributed the situation to incredibly bad luck.
Over at Maxwellâ€™s Place, Bhalla, who is seeking re-election on Zimmerâ€™s ticket in November, praised the administrationâ€™s ability to succeed by working together.
Bhalla also attributed the dueling fundraisers as just a case of unforeseen misfortune, adding that he looks forward to working with DeFusco and would support him if he decides to seek re-election in 2019.
“There was an issue with respect to scheduling. I hadn’t been told about his event, he hadn’t been told about my event, but unfortunately, it was at the same day at the same time. So I regret it.”
“I heard Councilman DeFusco’s event was a huge success and I wish him the best … I’m looking forward to working with him this year when he supports our campaign for mayor and re-election and I obviously fully support candidacy for re-election in 2019.”
Those who attended both events included Zimmer, Chaparro, former state Senate Majority Leader Bernie Kenny, Ward 2 Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Hoboken Committeeman Phil Cohen and Hoboken Housing Authority Commissioner Hovie Forman.
Dignitaries that only attended DeFusco’s event included Mukherji, Ramos, Romano, former North Hudson Sewerage Authority Chair Frank Raia, ex-Councilman Tony Soares, former Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, Jersey City LGBTQ activist Michael Billy and Elysian Charter School Board President Eduardo Gonzalez.
Finally, officials that only attended Bhalla’s event included Council members Peter Cunningham and Jen Giattino, North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioners Brian Assadourian and Kurt Gardiner, former HHA Chair Jake Stuiver and Zimmer’s former chief of staff and current Phil Murphy operative Daniel Bryan.