With Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Ward 4 Councilman-elect Ruben Ramos both dialing in dominant performances on Election Day, is a rematch for the mayor’s seat inevitable in 2017?Â
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
For some quick background, Zimmer, Ramos and Ward 4 Councilman Tim Occhipinti squared off in a three-way dance in the November 2013 mayoral contest, where Zimmer claimed 47 Â percent of the vote, compared to 34 and 17 percent, respectively, for Ramos and Occhipinti.
Ramos has since held a grudge of epic proportions against Occhipinti, since he believed the councilman only got Â involved to play spoiler.
On Tuesday, the former Assemblyman and City Councilman got his sweet revenge, decimating Occhipinti and Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dana Wefer – who was Zimmer’s endorsed candidate in the race.
Ramos earned just over 57 percent of the vote, which was more than the combined totals for Occhipinti and Wefer, which was just under 43 percent of the vote.
Strong tallies in the ward 3rd, 4th and 7th Districts of the 4th Ward, as well as 247 vote-by-mail ballots, contributed to the blowout victory in an election where political opponents claim Ramos barely bothered to get off the couch.
A born and raised Mile Square City product who teaches in Paterson, Ramos claimed 4,552 votes in the citywide election from two years ago, compared to Zimmer’s 6,123.
After winning four of the five contested City Council races, Zimmer’s political stock is on the rise and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue on an upward trend given the 7-2 council majority she will enjoy come January.
This potentially means that just about every and any city project, such as repaving Washington Street, will have the ability to be fast-tracked, since nay votes from Ramos and 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo – who ran unopposed on Tuesday – will mean next to nothing.
Therefore, Ramos is going to have another upward battle if he decides to seek higher office one more time, meaning having the backing of folks like Russo, developer Frank Raia (don’t hold your breath) and District 5 Freeholder Anthony Romano would be pivotal to beating the incumbent.
Hold the phone though, where does Romano stand regarding the 2017 matchup?
After raging against the machine and beating the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s pick, Phil Cohen, in the June 2014 Democratic primary, Romano appeared to be a game opponent for Zimmer down the line.
Largely lost in the shuffle from Tuesday is that Romano helped orchestrate wins for board of education candidates Britney Montgomery and John Madigan, who got in on the strength of big VBM numbers after it seemed that the Zimmer-endorsed “Reach Higher, Hoboken” slate had pulled off a sweep.
Exactly how involved or what role Romano played in the City Council races isn’t totally clear, but it is pretty obvious that he was bullish on seeing the anti-Zimmer contingency do a victory lap or two.
Romano, also a lifelong Hobokenite with close ties to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), still has a strong core of supporters and can raise a little bit of money when the time calls for it.
Seeing what kind of turnout he has at his Cadillac Cantina cocktail reception on November 24 could be telling on what his next move is.
Regardless, as of today, it looks like compromise will be the name of the game in 2017 because in order for Zimmer to face a legitimate test of political strength, it will have to be a head-to-head showdown – rather than another three candidate war zone.