Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is going after Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), the new Hoboken Democratic Committee Chairman, for not being properly informed about the party’s bylaws when electing the Vice Chair at their June 8th reorganization meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a series of three emails obtained by Hudson County View, Zimmer wrote to Romano – as well as Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) – on Wednesday morning, in part stating:
“First, the Committee by-laws explicitly require that the Chair and Vice Chair be of different genders. This requirement was apparently simply ignored, and two men, you as Chair and Councilman Russo as Vice Chair, were elected to those positions.”
” … The by-laws are quite clear that either the Chair or the Vice Chair MUST be a woman, and it is not a recommendation or a goal – it is a mandatory requirement. Once you were elected Chair, Councilman Russo was not eligible to even be considered, much less serve, as the Vice Chair.”
“I ask that a special meeting be scheduled as soon as possible so that the full Committee can make a decision as to how to correct this mistake.”
Romano answered early the next morning, stating that Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo has already vacated the position and that the Hoboken Democratic Committee did not appoint or elect any Honorary Chairs that evening.
“As soon as i [sic] was advised by county party officials of this, the position of first vice chair became vacant and will be voted on and filled by a female at a special meeting to be announced. Honorary chair is an appointed position, i [sic] have been advised.”
“In reality, it is not an elected position with any authority or vote. However, I am also getting a legal ruling. As of this time there are none.”
Zimmer was less than thrilled with the response she received from Romano, a potential opponent in the 2017 mayoral election, based on a subsequent email she wrote back.
“Thank you for your prompt response, and I am pleased to hear that despite your inexplicable failure to keep either the Committee or the public informed with respect to this issue, you will be taking steps to correct your violation of the clear language of the Committee By-laws,” she told Romano.
“I expect that you will be immediately advising both the Committee and the public that Councilman Russo was elected illegally and that the position is, therefore vacant.”
Romano told Hudson County View Zimmer was making noise about the situation simply due to “political posturing,” and reiterated that Russo had stepped down as Vice Chairman – noting that a new meeting, with a date to be determined, will take place to elect a new Vice Chair.
Romano added that neither Second Ward Councilman Beth Mason or Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) has the title of Honorary Chair of the party.
“There were no votes taken for honorary chair that night,” Romano stated, exclaiming that anyone who thought that such a vote took place was either mistaken or misinformed.
“It’s being researched whether or not the honorary chair is appointed or elected. Until we are clear on that, no action will be taken.”
Hudson County View, the only media outlet that was in attendance at the meeting, was told on June 9th, by several committee members, that Garcia was named honorary chair.
Garcia, like Romano, called Zimmer’s emails much ado about nothing, and openly acknowledged he was appointed honorary chairman at the Democratic Committee’s reorganization meeting.
“I think this is petty political posturing with much hypocrisy from the mayor, at the end of the day, the majority [of the party] was in agreement that we need new leadership and I’m honored to be recognized as an honorary chair of the party.”
According to exclusive footage of the meeting previously unpublished by Hudson County View, Romano calls for a nomination for vice chair, with Michael Russo’s name quickly getting the nomination and a second.
Committeewoman Ines Garcia-Keim initially protests the nomination, stating that if the chair is a male, the vice chair must be a female, but it doesn’t appear that Romano ever hears her objection and Russo comes over to speak to her as the meeting proceeds.
No one else is nominated for the position, but Board of Education Trustee Peter Biancamano approaches Garcia – who was the pro tempore of the committee for the meeting – then relays the message to Romano.
“I’ve just been instructed by the chairman pro-tem that the Vice Chairman has to be a committeeperson,” he asked, looking at Garcia for confirmation. “We’ll check on that a minute, please. Check on that.”
“Let’s have a check on that with the bylaws,” Romano reiterated again. “Okay, it’s okay?” he said after a few moments of discussion between Garcia and Russo.
“I’ve just been advised by chairman pro-tem that’s amended.”
In an email, Zimmer accused Romano of lying about what was really going on with the Honorary Chair designation.
“This is not about politics, The diversity requirements included in the Hoboken Democratic Party by-laws reflect the core principles of the Democratic Party, something Chairman Romano clearly does not understand,” she said.
“Chairman Romano, instead of acknowledging his mistake and issuing a simple apology, has made matters worse by failing to honestly explain the situation. Assemblyman Garcia has acknowledged that he was somehow designated honorary chair despite Mr. Romano’s disingenuous claims that this did not occur.”
“It is a disgrace that Mr. Romano, who is not only Democratic Party Chairman, but an elected Democratic Freeholder, does not understand either the importance of having women in party leadership roles, or the importance of telling the truth.”