Paul Presinzano is now the councilman-elect in Hoboken’s 1st Ward, winning the first runoff in the Mile Square City since 2009 this evening by an unofficial tally of 692 to 529.
This was the first runoff election since Peter Cammarano defeated Dawn Zimmer for the mayor’s seat in 2009. Thanks to Operation Bid Rig, Zimmer would become the acting mayor about a month later when Cammarano was arrested on corruption charges.
Presinzano lost decisively in the 2021 council-at-large races where he ran on a slate without a mayoral candidate, however, he remained involved on the political scene ever since and announced a 1st Ward council run in January.
He took the fight to Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the administration on countless occasions, eventually drawing an opponent in Rafi Cordova – the chair of the rent leveling and stabilization board.
Cordova announced on May 18th with the support of Bhalla and former 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, who lost to current local representative Mike DeFusco in 2015.
DeFusco announced he wasn’t seeking re-election on May 2nd, prompting Cordova to jump in the race shortly thereafter.
While Presinzano fell just short of 50 percent plus one on November 7th, a contest that also included former Health and Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini – who came in a distant third – he managed to come out on top again this evening
He had the support of Bhalla’s main political adversaries on the council: 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino.
Outgoing Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33), who was thrown off the Democratic party line by Bhalla in favor of John Allen, also made late endorsement for Presinzano.
The runoff was far more contentious than the vast majority of occurred when the other five ward seats were on the line last month, with allegations of vote-by-mail fraud, an illegal rent hike at a home owned by Presinzano, and a nearly double digit rent increase potentially on the horizon for Marineview Plaza.
That didn’t seem to hurt the winning candidates numbers much, if at all, hitting nearly the same number he did a month ago.
While Cordova had the backing of Council President Emily Jabbour, Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, and 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, with Quintero largely leading the charge with Bhalla at a conference out of the country, he still came up just short.
Now, the council will again look exactly how it did before November 7th: four members in opposition of the mayor, four who are Bhalla allies, and the wild card being 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo.
Although Russo had acted as the swing vote often in the past two years, he will likely be less inclined to work with Bhalla and his administration as he sets his eyes on the mayor’s seat in 2025.