From the desk of First Ward City Council candidate Michael DeFusco:
During my two terms as a Commissioner on Hoboken’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, I've been honored to represent you on land use issues that impact all aspects of our community. I’ve voted on projects that maintain our city’s scale and charm while ensuring our neighborhoods move forward responsibly. However, over the past few years, I’ve observed serious issues facing my home district, the first ward. Many of these problems have largely gone unaddressed by our long-time councilwoman, Terry Castellano, who in November will seek re-election to for a fifth term and ask voters to extend her time on the council past 25 years.
I like Terry, but if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. What positive change in our ward can Terry personally take credit for? Our neighborhoods need an attentive and proactive councilperson that will work with the City to improve them. Potholes, crumbling curbs and trash have proliferated and there’s been no movement by our councilwoman to address the situation. Seniors have asked for better lighting on Washington Street, but have gotten no response. Pedestrian safety issues plague our streets, yet Councilwoman Castellano has done little to implement transportation infrastructure, which is essential to fixing the problem. She has sat idly by as county taxes have increased — 45 percent over the past five years and hasn't spoken up against PATH service cuts, which directly impact her constituents and our downtown businesses.
Fiscally, Councilwoman Castellano’s record isn't any better. In 2011, she voted “no” to selling the hospital and relieving taxpayers from a $52 million bond guarantee and risked losing a critical care facility that provides almost 1,200 jobs and contributes $500,000 in taxes annually. Her obstructionism nearly sent our city into default, a financial disaster that would have crippled Hoboken. Thankfully, calmer heads prevailed and the success of the hospital over the last few years points to her politically motivated misstep. We should all remember her vote to close the hospital when casting our vote in November.
In my private sector career, I’m paid to get the job done. I know disagreements are natural, but also that they result in a stronger final product. But, if I responded “no” to everything without offering a solution, I’d be fired. We should apply that same standard to our local officials. Though I like Terry personally, I question her ability to work with the City to get things done and it’s hurting our community.
For all of these reasons, and with a sense of duty to the city I love, I’ve decided to challenge her this November and run to represent my neighbors on the City Council.
The first ward needs a representative who will work with everybody, especially the administration, to address constituent concerns and actualize quality of life issues that have fallen to the wayside. We must advocate for innovative land use that further advances commerce, art and entertainment downtown. We must also demand more out of our county tax dollars to ease the burden on the city and improve quality of life for all Hoboken residents.
Over the next three months, I look forward to speaking with all neighbors about my candidacy. From Marineview Plaza to Grand Street, engaging those who were born here and those who just arrived— it’s time to establish a community dialogue, one that puts the first ward, first!
Candidate for City Council, First Ward
Commissioner, Zoning Board of Adjustment