Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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


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.

A mayor, a burka and third term prognostication

Last April Fool's Day, MSV announced there would be no third term for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Really, who saw that coming? Well no one, not even Mayor Zimmer who took the joke wrapped in an enigma of a forward looking time machine authored by a Horse with her fine sense of humor. In almost eight years at the helm of the City of Hoboken, the mayor took far worse.

Hoboken's indomitable mayor, Dawn Zimmer
If there's one thing learned over two terms, Mayor Zimmer took the slings and arrows of Hoboken's vicious Old Guard well. She delivered some well-placed blows herself, typically on Election Day. Or for she who will not be deservedly named, when Mayor Zimmer announced the sale saving the local hospital with a herculean effort led by Toni Tomarazzo and the late Steve Rofsky against the forces of evil who sought its demise.

It was one of the finest moments for Hoboken in her two terms.

There would be other major if quiet victories for Hoboken along the way. The culture of corruption, a long time feature of Hoboken's "On the Waterfront" past and present were most often chapters discovered, closed and filed away. About those four million missing quarters from the parking meters, "it's been cleared up."

So too, Mayor Zimmer discovered a penchant for taking on hurricanes. Win some, lose some but what the mayor most intangibly succeeded in achieving for Hoboken was the expectation that corruption would no longer be acceptable or tolerated. There would be bumps along the road, different visions and policy ideas but the black hole of a Hoboken Soprano tax would no longer be a factor. The former terror of the construction office, Al Arezzo, will not be back next week. 

Some didn't take it well and went kicking and screaming the entire way.  Moving Hoboken to 21st century governance where professional minimums of behavior were expected became the norm.

Like a tide rolling in, there's a time for the wave to roll out. The mayor decided she had to elect an opportunity before a window closes. No one will get further details until after the governor's race in November. Others locally will understand and act similarly.

In the end, Mayor Zimmer kept a promise not to use Hoboken to elevate herself to higher political office. While many may have forgotten it, one of the reasons she was elected mayor was explicitly for that one. In doing so, she would remain one of us, a Mile Square City resident first and foremost. For the Reform Movement, it meant sovereignty of its citizens would not be taken for granted. Of course HudCo takes plenty of Mile Square City taxpayers cash and will continue to do so. There's been no headway to stop that larceny.

What to make of this tidbit last April Fool's Day, this Horse leaves it to you the reader to decide.
From the last paragraph of the column:

Another option for Zimmer is as Green Czar in a NJ Governor administration under Phil Murphy. Her staff would go door-to-door seizing inefficient light bulbs decreed morally unsuitable and declare them environmental offenses against the State. Penalties for six or more inefficient light bulbs per household will trigger the seizure of property to house illegal aliens in what will be designated sanctuary safe houses for new voters.