Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon joined Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco in calling for the Mile Square City to bring back runoff elections at a fundraiser for the latter elected official last night.
“I already see a long list of accomplishments and the one that I think is near and dear to my heart is the runoff referendum that you all are about to have,” Solomon said to crowd of around 75 people at Pier 13 last night.
“I would not be an elected official without a runoff. So I came in second in my election in Jersey City, and I won because all the other candidates that didn’t qualify for a runoff, I spoke to their supporters and they supported me over my opponent.”
Solomon was elected in December of last year, besting Rebecca Symes in the runoff after Ward E residents saw a crowded six-candidate ballot the month prior.
Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise, who was also in attendance last night, doubled down on the notion that runoff elections are important during today’s episode of Hudson County Review Live.
“First off, having referendums are so important and we need to educate our community more on how they can have different initiatives, referendums on the ballot and really feel like one vote matters,” she began.
” … I do think that having the runoffs is a good idea. I think you should win by the 50 percent plus one, it should be by the majority – that’s not knocking anyone that’s won an election without having the 50 percent plus one … you want to know that you represent as much of the community as possible.”
In last year’s Mile Square City mayoral contest, Ravi Bhalla won with about a third of the vote in a field of six candidates.
DeFusco finished in second place and with no runoffs since 2012, there was no head-to-head clash between Bhalla and DeFusco in December.
While Bhalla vetoed placing the runoff question on the November 6th ballot back in January, citing “massive vote-buying in the past, the council overrode his veto at their next meeting, leaving the decision in the hands of the voters.
Last night, DeFusco called on Bhalla to sing a different tune when it comes to runoffs.
“I want to reassure you, and I want a callout to the mayor: this is the time to bring everybody together. We can disagree on politics, but we can always agree on policy,” the councilman said.
“We need to fight for Hoboken and everybody who is here is fighting for a better democracy and a better Hudson County.”
The campaign to bring back runoff elections in Hoboken looks like it will be an aggressive one, given that a new political non-profit, New Jersey Democracy in Action was distributing flyers at the event.
“New Jersey Democracy in Action is a coalition of citizens advocating for fair and open elections in the state to promote the values of equality, justice, reform, transparency and opportunity,” their mission statement says.
A city spokesman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, HCDO Executive Director Susan Ragheb, Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dave Mello and former Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, among many others.