The $241 million Hoboken school referendum: The biggest winners and losers


Lines in the sand were drawn during the end-of-year holiday season in 2021 when Hoboken residents first heard of a $241 million school referendum. Who are the biggest winners and losers with the vote in the books now?

Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View


The referendum opposition

Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated voters (a few pictured above) came together to soundly defeat the referendum. They will certainly run a BOE slate this fall, but the bigger question is how far will they try to spread their wings in the Mile Square City?

Hoboken Republican Party

The committee paid for lawn and window signs, while Chair Joe Branco and Secretary Pavel Sokolov were key in organizing the GOTV efforts on Election Day.

Tiffanie Fisher and Ruben Ramos

The 2nd ward councilwoman and 4th ward councilman, respectively, were the only elected officials to come out against the referendum. They now have a much larger audience paying attention when they criticize the Mayor Ravi Bhalla administration.

Hoboken residents

While 19 percent turnout doesn’t sound spectacular at a glance, it is actually very good considering that is more voter participation than some council races get. They also will not have to bear the burden of a six percent tax increase now.


The Board of Education

The BOE trustees, along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson, were the biggest proponents of the plan and were unable to convince the electorate this ambitious option was necessary. Their upcoming meetings will certainly have some interesting public portions.

Team Bhalla

Bhalla and his allies on the city council supported the project, with Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour working the hardest to help, but the final vote tally wasn’t close. The council meetings just got a lot more enticing, for politicos at least.

Education advocates

Believe it or not, there are some parents and teachers who legitimately wanted the referendum to pass so students would have state-of-the-art facilities for many years to come and that would be worth any price tag. Of course most Hoboken voters disagreed.

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  1. So good to my councilman supported the ” No” vote! Thank you Councilman Russo!
    I guess his letters to the press got lost in the mail or something like that… I almost thought he was voting YES or playing all sides. PHEW!

  2. I’ll give you Councilman Ramos but you may be overestimating how much of a winner Councilwoman Fisher will come out on this one. For two main reasons. First, while the MomArmy failed on this vote, there are a lot of us living in the second ward and we’ll have the opportunity to push her out come the next election. Second, Tiffanie spends a significant amount of time engaging with trolls on Twitter. That’s not gaining an audience, that’s her wasting time talking to the same people under different names.

    • Appreciate that fresh perspective, thanks for putting it out there. You may very well be on the money for the long term.

      Imho, the big question for the short term is can the council and other electeds build a rapport with the 5,401 people who voted against this. For the here and now, I’d think they would naturally gravitate to others who supported the no vote.

    • You still can’t get over targeting and failing to stop Councilwoman Fisher from being re-elected.
      All that time attacking and lying about her and here it is more than a year later, you’re crying.
      That’s a real shame for you and your bosses, Ravi-Russo. Cry more!

    • It takes about 2 minutes a day to post on Twitter and judging from the information she put out there about the vote, she did a lot of research and explaining while others engaged in attacks. She carefully researched the plan and with Ruben was among a few brave voices to be honest about this. She gets misoginistic attacks over it. You may not always find her a winner but she definitely came out a winner in this one.

      • Ravi and his incompetent crew hate Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher because she actually does examine issues and does research with a vigorous financial overview. It’s something she does consistently and it’s beyond the cheap politics Ravi and his operatives live by.

        That’s why they hate her guts. She’s actually doing real work.

  3. The word on Washington St is that Russo got to that photo op a few minutes before Ravi did. Great assessment from John Heinis, and it has me hoping that we are at the beginning of a new Reform Movement, Russo’s sharp elbows notwithstanding.

  4. Don’t oversell the referendum results. Voters may have disagreed on this one, but it doesn’t make Fisher or Ramos movement leaders. The election is over, the electorate has moved on.

    • Agree. I voted NO on the high school but would still vote again for Bhalla if any of his city council opponents finally had the nerve to run against him this time. Ravi’s not perfect, but much rather have him as mayor than Ramos, Tiff, DeFusco or Jen.

        • No at all. The HS was one issue. I support most (but not all) other things Bhalla does, and don’t think Ramos or Tiff are fit to serve as mayor, despite their support for the no vote on the HS.

          Why is that so hard for you to understand. Open your eyes, most people don’t live in your tribal political hack world. Too much inside baseball has warped your perception. You’re stuck in the old political mindset, the world is passing you by. No wonder “your side” doesn’t win elections anymore (example: last November’s Bhalla ticket sweep, remember that one?).

      • Friends on different sides yesterday are friends today. There are no more “yes” guys and “no guys”- the election is over. No one wants to continue on this divisive path.

        • Yeah. And on that issue, I disagreed with him, and voted no. But I do agree with him on other matters, and he’s much more qualified to be mayor than anyone on the council. The HS was one issue, why is that so hard for your to understand.

          And thanks for the moron comment, such a manly group up.

    • The election is over but lots of issues remain, not just about the schools. I think people should keep working together. I might support Ravi again but sure would not if there is a better leader who comes along. Ravi’s actions the last 2 months were very problematic, as if he thought not one was watching or cared, and this is why the board’s rollout was so bad, they thought the same.

    • The factions in this election were an outlier in Hoboken politics. The usual political hacks and “resistance” crazies who feed off negative energy and opposition will find this “movement” a mirage. No one wants continued division. We’re back to being neighbors.

  5. I highly doubt the electorate has moved on. They are waiting to see what the next steps will be. This election has raised awareness of what was previously secretive dealings and the huge cost to them of not being involved. They have made their concerns known on Tuesday and that will be a large part of who they vote in or out for the HBOE election.