Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sources: Reform Council members looking at Council President Jen Giattino mayoral bid

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE



Movement to adopt City Council President Jen Giattino as a candidate for mayor lighting up Hoboken

Coming not a day after Councilman at-large Ravi Bhalla officially threw his hat in the ring for Hoboken mayor, a backlash in the City Council and the Reform Movement is weighing a bid seeking Council President Jen Giattino's entry into the Hoboken mayor's race.

Fears about the lack of enthusiasm to Bhalla's entry yesterday and his electability in November are tarnishing the luster of the endorsement he received from Mayor Zimmer only yesterday. Concerns by people on the City Council and others within the Reform Movement say the mayor's seat and the current council majority are both at risk further fueling desires to draft Jen Giattino atop a mayoral ticket.

City Council President
Jen Giattino
The up swell to back Council President Giattino for mayor began almost immediately in the wake of the late Monday night news Mayor Zimmer would be bowing out for a third term and Councilman Bhalla announcing in a story released  near midnight that he would be running for mayor. Reform council team members were not sought for consultations prior to the announcement. The friction and frustration quickly channeled into analysis by some to weigh options.

The upsurge is driven twofold. Council President Jen Giattino is the only elected official on par with Mayor Zimmer in popularity citywide with Reform and the community since she upset Nino Giacchi in 2011 for the sixth ward council seat. She's currently serving in her second one year term and third overall as Hoboken City Council President, attesting to the esteem she's held by her council colleagues.

The backlash is sandwiched by Reform core principles of transparency and fairness overlooked, something Mayor Zimmer admitted yesterday did not occur in her decision to endorse Bhalla for mayor. A number of sources pointed to the less than democratic process as presented in the clearly intended fait accompli of yesterday's hastily scheduled press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday morning.

A Reform surge in Hoboken is looking to draft City Council President
Jen Giattino a candidate for Hoboken mayor.

Sources close to Reform City Council members say loyalty to Mayor Zimmer's bid for a third term was sacrosanct and Jen Giattino was already working like others on the Reform team toward her re-election. Mayor Zimmer's shocking announcement to not seek a third term and her immediate decision to endorse Bhalla without seeking consultation of her allies forced others to rethink the Reform Movement's future.

One decades long Reformer stated the displeasure among many with yesterday's surprising double announcement in front of City Hall saying, "We didn't suffer all those years to bring reform to Hoboken to have a successor decided behind closed doors. That's hardly democratic and more emblematic of Hudson County machine politics."

Councilwoman Jen Giattino is serving in her second term as a Hoboken City Councilwoman. Her initial run and victory in 2011 flipped the council majority from the Russo-Mason axis to Reform, one open to moving forward and passing Mayor Zimmer's agenda.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla is serving in his second term and ran on the mayor's 2009 ticket with Dave Mello and Carol Marsh. In 2011, Bhalla made a bid to win a NJ Assembly seat but failed to catch fire against State Senator Brian Stack's candidate Ruben Ramos.

Hoboken's political backwaters are already aflame with word Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano is about to make official his entry into the mayoral race later this week.

Similarly, word spreading like wildfire in Reform and Old Guard circles of the surge to get behind Jen Giattino for mayor is underway.

Jen Giattino was not immediately available for comment. Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Ravi Bhalla did not respond to a request for comment but this story anticipates updates with responses.