Monday, November 5, 2018

Commissioner Dave Mello: Vote "YES" to return runoffs to Hoboken

Dear Mile Square View,

Please vote “YES” to return runoffs to Hoboken.

In 2012, when my team got behind an effort to both move the elections from May to November, and to eliminate the runoff elections, I like many was much more enthusiastic about the “move” than I was about the “elimination.”  My initial trepidation stemmed from the fact that someone with far less than 50%+1 of the vote could win, and that just didn’t feel very democratic. I mean, my two time running mate and our team’s leader had won her first elected post because of a runoff (4th Ward Councilperson).  She won because she galvanized the support of all of her opponents who were eliminated in the first round. She kept her campaign positive and issues based, and didn’t alienate those who supported her many May opponents. This unification served her well, as she eked out a slim victory over Chris Campos in that runoff election.  
We, her supporters celebrated, a political career was born, and runoff elections had given birth to it.  So had the efforts at unity that a runoff election requires.

Last year, we saw very little unity.  Instead, we found ourselves in an often ugly, very divisive mayoral campaign here in Hoboken.  Because those running didn’t have to worry about offending their opponents’ voter bases, in some cases they offended them brazenly and constantly (there would never be a runoff in which they would need to woo their support, so why not roll out the low blows?).  The lack of a runoff bred alienating rhetoric rather than unifying appeals to our highly intelligent Hoboken electorate.

Today, we have a mayor, who would have likely won a runoff, sitting in a position of power that he did not win by earning the support of the majority of those who bothered to vote, but whom two out of three voters voted against.  This was a mere plurality win, and it’s had distressingly negative effects on Hoboken. The executive branch leader of a city of well over 50,000 people needs to have earned the support of the majority of its voting citizens for government to be fair and democratic and for the decisions of those entrusted with power to be accepted by those who have entrusted them with it.  Majority rules in our democracy, but majority does not rule here in Hoboken.

Finally, quality candidates are discouraged from running in the absence of a runoff.  “Spoiler” is what a good candidate is typically called if the odds seem to be against them.  “Why don’t you just fall in line, quiet down about the issues you’re passionate about, and let those who have raised the most money fight this fight alone!  Don’t interfere. Don’t gum up the machine.” I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that a large group of candidates actually raises the level of debate in a runoff environment, but has the opposite effect in the absence of a runoff.

There are more problems inherent in not having runoffs than I can detail in a single letter, so I’ll stop with those I’ve already discussed. But all of the many problems that spring from no longer having a runoff election desperately need to be solved and corrected.  We, the Hoboken voters, have the ability to correct these problems on Election Day.  We can bring democracy and majority rule back to our city.  We can stop the discord and bridge the divides that the lack of a runoff has created.  I wish I had voiced my concerns in 2012. I know I must voice my concerns in 2018.

Please join me and vote “YES” and help bring back democracy and unity to the City of Hoboken.

Hoboken resident Ian Rintel: Another reason to vote yes and reinstate runoff elections

I'm only chiming because in my opinion one very important point in the run-off versus no run-off debate is being missed or at least not given the attention it should.

Plurality Voting's greatest weakness as a voting system comes to light when the number of candidates becomes quite large.  I can live with Ravi Bhalla becoming mayor as the most popular candidate of four major candidates but what happens when a future election is won by just one of six, eight or twelve candidates?  What happens if there are 19 candidates?

Besides having an elected official that likely received a very small minority of the vote - this could be a way for a candidate with unpopular views "win".  What if the only Republican among a very crowded field wins?  And what if it's a very "conservative" Republican?  What if we then have someone who is Anti-Choice, Anti-Gay Marriage, Anti-Vaccination and generally regressive in their views, elected to our council or elected as mayor?

Granted, Bret Schundler turned out to be a popular, progressive Republican - but that is not guaranteed to happen.  Not having run offs could be a disaster for Hoboken.

I am NOT in favor of low turnout Run-off elections - but I'm even more NOT in favor of plurality elections, so I'll be voting to bring them back, the same way I voted the last time we had this referendum.  I hope you'll consider my thoughts and consider that in this case voting to bring back run-off elections is the better of two bad systems.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher - on the ballot

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
Tomorrow is being called the biggest mid-term election of our lives… with early voting numbers suggesting almost presidential levels.  So you don’t miss out… Here is everything you need to know to vote tomorrow!
You have up to seven votes you can cast tomorrow: 
  • 1 for US Senator
  • 1 for House of Representatives, and 
  • Up to 3 for Hoboken Board of Education
  • 1 for State level ballot question – about statewide school funding
  • 1 for Hoboken level ballot question – about reinstating election runoffs
Here is what the ballot looks like, CLICK ON THE PICTURE to take you to the website where you can see a larger version.  Familiarize yourself before you vote tomorrow.  
Federal Level Candidates:
  • US Senator – there are 8 candidates
  • House of Representatives – there are 3 candidates  
Column A is Democrats, Column B is Republicans, and Columns D-H are Green, Independent and Libertarian candidates.
As most people are aware, I lean left and am voting Column A and I am doing so because I am voting for candidates who in one month, two months, or 6 years, will be voting for and supporting issues that are important to me.
Hoboken Board of Education Candidates
Every year 1/3 of our nine seat Board of Education is up for election.  This year there are 5 candidates and you can vote for up to three.  They are found in Column I on the lower right side of the ballot:  
  • #1 Tom Kluepfel
  • #2 John Madigan
  • #3 Malani Cademartori
  • #4 Ailene McGuirk
  • #5 Patricia Waiters
I am voting for #1 Tom Kluepfel and #4 Ailene McGuirk (click to learn more).  I have known Tom and his wife Lynn for a few of years.  Tom is currently President of our Board of Education and along with his wife Lynn, who is a special education teacher at Elysian Charter, helped founded Elysian Charter.  They are strong education advocates, have been a big part of the reform of our public schools and are long-time residents of Hoboken.  I have only known Ailene for a short time, but I think she is awesome!  A very committed parent and long time resident, a Vice President of the PTO at Connors Elementary and has a daughter attending there.  Connors is a school that has not had a parent representative elected to our Board of Education in decades, and the school where some of our more vulnerable children go.  Giving those with less of a voice a bigger one is important to me and I think Ailene is a great voice for all of our kids.  
Even if you don’t have kids (I don’t) there are many reasons to vote with the most important being that a strong public school system is at the heart of all strong communities and our school board oversees almost 1/3 of our property taxes.
State Level Ballot Question:
So, I will admit I am not well versed on this issue.  But I have asked a number of people who I respect who are better versed, and I am coming up with a NO vote on this question.  Long story short, I understand that this funding will not reach that many children across the state and that there are many other higher educational priorities to fund – like free pre-K3 and pre-K4 for all as examples.  Here are two links that I found that I thought were helpful in my decision:
Hoboken Municipal Question – Reinstating the Runoffs:
I have sent out two emails already (2/6 and 11/1 click on the dates) on this saying why I was and still am a definite Yes vote for this.   But if that isnt enough to get you there, HMAGjust published what I think has been the best summary in support of runoffs that captures the sentiment that I, and many others feel.  This is not a referendum on our mayor, but rather a referendum on last year's election.  My prior emails will give you more of the math, about why voter turnout has only increased in Hoboken’s historical runoffs since 2005.  Hoboken residents – WE VOTE in municipal elections!  And if and when we have a runoff the first Tuesday of December, we will don our hats and mittens, clear our schedule and holiday shop on a different day, and make sure we get to the polls to elect our local leaders.  It’s our culture and it’s what we do.  
You vote where you voted this past year.  Nothing has changed.  If you are a registered voter you should have received your sample ballot in the mail with your polling location.  But ICYMI or are unsure you can simply type “Where do I vote” into google and you get the following (click on picture and it will take you there).  And you just fill in your street address:
Or use can use the NJ Polling Place Locator Tool as well.
One glitch – if you live in 6th ward district 3 or 5, your polling place was incorrectly listed on your sample ballot.  You will be voting at the Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Ave.  If you don’t know if you live in either of those districts, you can find your district on a Hoboken Ward Map HERE.
Polls are open from 6am to 8pm.  If you are standing in line at 8pm, you will be admitted to vote.  If you get on line at 805pm, you will not be able to vote.
Vote early.  Tomorrow’s weather is expected to be mild (54-64), but potentially wet with most of the rain happening in the afternoon.  Don’t let the weather keep you away, so get it out of the way first thing.
Because for the first time ever in Hoboken you will get an “I Voted” sticker!!!  
So... last year I said on social media that I would buy "I Voted" stickers for Hoboken this year if the County didn't... So I did, for each of the 40 polling locations in Hoboken. As a result, the Hudson County Board of Elections secured some as well (hopefully enough) for the rest of the County. But I am told that we will now have them for all elections going forward!
But remember - NOT JUST ANYONE GETS A STICKER! You have to exercise your civic right and vote to get one! So vote. Get a sticker and proudly wear your badge of honor to inspire your neighbors to vote too! And don’t feel bad about shaming them into voting... look what happened when I shamed the county!
Because.  You just have to.  We are a democracy because people go to the polls and vote.  All of our laws that we have are because of all those who voted in elections up until today.  Don’t you want to be one of those voices that help shape America’s future?  I know I do.

Please vote.   And please forward this to anyone you think might benefit from this information or need a little encouragement.
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Police Chief Ken Ferrante addresses removal of Hoboken resident at Sinatra Park Menendez rally

The following is an official statement from Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante in response to inquiries by MSV on the Mayor Ravi Bhalla political rally on behalf of Bob Menendez.

Official release: 

“Last night I received an inquiry regarding an individual (identified to me by you as Chris Carbine) who allegedly stated he was removed from the public area during the Menendez rally and placed into a pen. I just met with Acting Captain Michael DeTrizio who was in command of the event. He advised me that Police Sergeant Will Montanez, who was there in his OEM Coordinator capacity, and not in police uniform, received a complaint regarding a male acting belligerent sitting amongst the Menendez supporters in an area that was rented from the City of Hoboken for a two-hour event. Montanez then went over to the male, who he stated did not appear to be acting belligerent but was holding a Hugin sign in the designated, rented area. Montanez advised the individual that he was in an area that was rented, and asked him if he would go over to an area where other Hugin supporters were. The dialogue between Montanez was very cordial. There was a Hoboken Police Lieutenant, ESU Commander Corrado Allegretta, within a few feet, but the individual was not in any trouble whatsoever. The male asked several times if he was under arrest to which Montanez replied that there was no reason for him to be under arrest as he did not do anything wrong.  In fact, Montanez never even asked the individual for his name or identification as the individual was not being investigated, just being asked to cooperate so that they can ensure a safe event and allow for those who rented to have a safe event. Montanez further advised how the individual could go about renting the space for his own rally or reasons. Montanez even stated he offered the male coffee for being cooperative. The place the individual was asked to go was approximately 50 feet from the podium where the small group of Hugin supporters yelled during Menendez’s speech, and were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to do so. This was not a pen. This was outside the orange gates that laid out the boundary of the rented space, similar to what is done for other events like the Foam Party, and other private entities. The city has event applications and an event committee which approves events in all different parts of the city on public properties.

In the current political extreme that divide our country, whenever there are political events in our city that can bring controversy, dispute, or bring high profile dignitaries to our city, I will proactively ensure the Hoboken PD is there to keep the peace, and ensure all sides are treated fairly. We need to be there to prevent incidents of a political divide that have turned violent in other parts of the country. Another dynamic that was added to this event yesterday, was the appearance of Senator Cory Booker. Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent that Booker is considering a presidential campaign attempt. This brings the possibility of media attention, counter-protestors and a situation where there could be an incident of violence. I look at that and follow advisements and frequent communications that I get from NJSP, FBI-JTTF and Homeland Security. I just heard U.S. Homeland Security Director Kristjen Nielsen speak on Friday in NYC, about the challenges Law Enforcement face today in the current climate.

Kenneth F. Ferrante
Chief of Police
Hoboken Police Department

Ravi Bhalla hosts political rally in final bid to save Senator Bob Menendez

Senator Cory Booker also appears in desperate bid to aid Senator Menendez as Democrat insiders voice "significant" likelihood of defeat to Bob Hugin

Yesterday, Hoboken saw its Sinatra Park amphitheater turned into a a private political rally space to benefit the flagging campaign of incumbent Senator Bob Menendez.

A Hoboken resident who went through security and was sitting on the second step with others was removed by Hoboken police who informed him he was not welcome. The resident, Chris Carbine, held a sign indicating he was supporting Menendez's opponent Bob Hugin.

According to Carbine, the Hoboken Police Officer asked for his removal as that portion of Sinatra Park was designated "a private space" for two hours rented at the cost of $25. He complied with the officer's request and went to a designated area south of the barricaded area joining other Hoboken residents who support Bob Hugin.

Long time Hoboken resident Chris Carbine (c) joins others protesting Bob Mendez's corruption and back
Bob Hugin's upstart bid for New Jersey's US Senate seat. He was removed by Hoboken police who told him the area of Sinatra Park was rented for two hours on behalf of Bob Menendez. MSV contacted Mayor Ravi Bhalla for an explanation.
According to eyewitnesses, the attendees within the barricades numbered somewhere around 200. Last week, Hoboken's mayor Ravi Bhalla sent out an email to an estimated 20,000 residents announcing the political rally for Bob Menendez. The email list originally came from former mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Over the weekend, warning signs flared on the pro-Democrat website Politico indicating a growing panic Bob Menendez's campaign is tanking. His vaunted 20 point lead has all but disappeared in the waning days of the campaign and Bob Hugin told the Washington Free Beacon he anticipated victory based on internal polling. Other polls vary saying Menendez is leading and the Cook Political Report moved the race to "tossup."

Democrat stragetists are deeply worried and fear a coming defeat. The Politico article detailed the state of that fear in the NJ Senate race writing: "Democratic strategists working on races across the state said in interviews that they have seen a remarkable decline in support for Menendez..."

The drop according to the Democrat operatives began in the summer and has continued in a precipitous  crash leading into the fall. From the article:

Democratic strategists working on races across the state said in interviews that they have seen a remarkable decline in support for Menendez.

Months of ads had reminded voters about the trial in which Menendez was accused of carrying out official favors for a Florida eye doctor — now a convicted Medicare fraudster — in exchange for campaign cash, private jet flights and lavish Dominican vacations.

Some Democratic operatives say there’s no doubt the attacks have worked. One strategist said Menendez spent the month of October “trying to hold on and just trying to survive.”
The operatives, who are involved in the state Democratic politics, all spoke on condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the state of the race in the days leading up to the Nov. 6 election and so as to not anger Mendendez.
Another operative said Hugin’s final swings at Menendez are an effort to “chop his legs out from under him.”
“They’re running a very, very, very good campaign, and Menendez seems to be just hoping this is over,” the second Democrat said. “I think there’s a significant chance he could lose.”
Much of the Democratic hand-wringing is based on internal polls that people who are privy to them describe as showing a narrowing race. Internal polls conducted in at least four congressional districts where Democrats are hoping to pick up seats — New Jersey’s 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 11th — have shown Menendez with support that’s more than 10 percent lower than that given a “generic” Democrat, according to one strategist who called the numbers “brutal.”
Last week, MSV obtained almost the exact information from a very reliable statewide source. That source indicated that  Bob Hugin held a shocking and commanding double digit lead in every competitive NJ congressional distract race across the state ranging from 10-15 points in each.

The commercial referenced by Politco doing more damage to Bob Menendez is seen below.

Hoboken resident, Joshua Sotomayor Einstein issued the following press release after the event:

Hoboken Activists Rally Against Menendez Corruption 
Calling him the disgrace of the Democratic Party, good government activists gathered Sunday, November 4, at 11:30am to rally in protest of the visit by formerly indicted Senator Menendez. Menendez who was unanimously admonished by the Senate Ethic Committee for bribery, fraud, and corruption was inexplicably chosen by the NJ Democratic Party to run for Senate. Perennial candidate for higher office, Senator Booker, who recently pressured Democratic law makers to change state law allowing him to run for re-election and president simultaneously in 2020, stumped for the embattled and morally corrupt Menendez.
“It’s ethically grotesque that those claiming to lament corruption in politics and rightfully condemning vote bribing crimes in Hoboken would then invite someone whom the Senate Ethic Committee unanimously found guilty of taking bribes among many other crimes,” said Joshua Sotomayor Einstein, NJ GOP State Committeeman from Hudson County, and a Hoboken resident. He continued, “every one of the event organizers who brought in Menendez knows the Senate will stay Republican on Tuesday meaning the NJ Senate election is about nothing other than NJ. Our Senate election is a referendum on blatant corruption; on one side is a bad government in which Menendez feels free to serve as the personal lackey and on the payroll of a criminal now in jail for defrauding Medicare of tens of millions of dollars; on the other is Bob Hugin, a former Marine and business leader.”
Menendez remains the only sitting Senator to be admonished by the bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee. That committee, composed of 6 Senators, 3 from each party, made waves by universally rebuking Menendez for accepting illegal gifts valued in the millions of dollars and for lobbying federal agencies on behalf of his now jailed criminal associate, Salomon Melgen. Due in large part to Menendez’s documented personal history as the Senate’s most corrupt member, he was rejected by 38% of New Jersey’s most dedicated Democrats, the voters of the Democratic Senate primary election. It is the hope of all good government activists that Menendez will be retired from the Senate by the voters on New Jersey on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: "I am Voting YES on the ballot question to reinstate the runoff in Hoboken"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
Tomorrow, November 6th I am Voting YES on the ballot question to reinstate the runoff in Hoboken for two specific reasons:

1. Positive campaigns - without a runoff Hoboken has campaigns that are based on negativity and misinformation toward other candidates while policy goes by the wayside.You deserve campaigns that show what candidates believe is best for our City now and in the future for all Hoboken residents.
2. We all deserve to have representatives that are elected by a minimum 50% plus

Without this the negativity of campaigns carries through post election and creates an unnecessary divide in our town that is not productive. 
Please join me in Voting YES to reinstate the runoff in Hoboken,

Councilman Michael DeFusco: "What Hoboken is missing....."

Official release:
Tomorrow is Election Day and Hoboken has the rare opportunity to stand together and vote against outside interference and for majority rule in our local elections.   Please join me and VOTE YES tomorrow on the municipal ballot question to enact runoff elections.

The Jersey Journal Editorial Board has endorsed the question and urged Hoboken to VOTE YES tomorrow, saying“...a runoff provision for municipal contests will ensure future mayors and council members are elected with a majority vote....this is a democracy. Let the majority rule in Hoboken.”

I’m also joined by my City Council colleagues: Peter Cunningham, Vanessa Falco, Tiffany Fisher, Jen Giattino and Council President Ruben Ramos who have all endorsed voting YES. Just last year we were on opposite sides of the political playing field and saw firsthand how divisive elections can be when 20 candidates run, resulting in a mayor elected with 68 percent of the City voting against the candidate who won mayor.  That’s not democracy...

Tomorrow, we have a chance to stop outside actors from dividing us and influencing Hoboken’s elections.

Only establishment politicians and special interests benefit when the vote is split.   Just last week, it came to light that there was alleged vote buying in the 2013 election, resulting in an indictment.  Not surprisingly, 2013 was the first municipal election after the city stopped holding runoff elections, and it's abundantly clear that eliminating runoffs from Hoboken elections encourages misconduct.  The indictment is equally troubling because without runoff elections, it is far easier for illegal "paid for" votes to successfully impact an electorate divided into smaller voting blocs.  This all underscores the importance of tomorrow's vote, which if passed, will ensure that our City won’t be bought and sold, and rather will stand unified against entities looking to divide us for political gain.
Voting YES to the municipal question will require any candidate for mayor or council to earn 50% of the vote to win office, ensuring majority rule and fair, democratic, elections. Voting YES will make certain that everyone’s voice is heard and their vote counted, not drowned out by establishment politicians and special interests who intentionally divide us to win.   
Across the state, elected officials must earn 50 percent of the vote to win.  In Hudson County, every mayor won with a majority -- except in Hoboken.
To learn why Runoff Elections are important and why you should VOTE YES tomorrow, click here. 

Join me, as well as a majority of the City Council in supporting democracy and fair elections in Hoboken by VOTING YES on Hoboken's municipal ballot question, tomorrow!  Polls are open from 6am to 8pm, to find your polling place, click here.
Your Councilman,
Mike DeFusco
Hoboken City Councilman

If you haven't seen my video about why runoffs are important, take a look...
Runoffs 101, in 60 seconds!

Ailene McGuirk: "Please Vote #4 All Our Kids - Ailene McGuirk for BOE - Election Day is Tomorrow!"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
Tomorrow is Election Day, Tuesday November 6th, and I have been working hard to spread the word for great voter turnout.  You can vote for me in Row #4 in Column I on the far right hand side of the ballot:

Last year the school board election in Hoboken was decided by 119 votes so every vote counts!  I am forever grateful for all of the support I have received thus far.  
Since I first moved to Hoboken in 1999, our District Public Schools have come a long way.  Enrollment is up, the community is more engaged, and we just renewed the contract of our top-notch Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson.  So much has improved, but we can’t stop working to be better.   
Working for better is what I do: co-chairing the Connors Elementary School PTO, working on local issues like the South West Park, helping out with Daisy Troop 12059.  Since I arrived in 1999, I have been an unwavering supporter of reform Board candidates and our amazing Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson.  If elected, I will bring a new perspective as the only Connors parent on the Board, a school that embodies the progress our district has made, while serving many of our communities’ most vulnerable youth. We need to unite our Hoboken school supporters by working to better serve all of the Hoboken school communities.  
As your Board Member I will do just that, working for top quality programs for all our kids.  I am doing this because all our kids, families and Hoboken residents benefit from and deserve thriving, inclusive public schools.  That is why it is urgent to get out the vote! It's as easy as messaging or emailing your friends to remind them how important this election will be.
On Election Day be sure to wear a #4 All Our Kids! button or t-shirt or carry or hang a sign.  If you don’t have one already come pick them up tonight (11/5) from 5 PM – 8 PM in the lobby of 62 Paterson Avenue. Also please consider volunteering today or on Election Day to help get the word out.   We need to show Hoboken there is overwhelming support for Ailene & All Our Kids!

Finally, PLEASE forward this email to your friends and neighbors.  Spread the word about All Our Kids - McGuirk for Board of Education and don’t forget to vote tomorrow, November 6!
Thank you so much for your support in voting for me (#4) to work better for  All Our Kidsmine and yours.
- Ailene McGuirk 
PS - Don't despair if you won't be in Hoboken on Election Day! There’s still time to register to Vote By Mail. You can apply to Vote By Mail in person to the County Clerk until 3:00 p.m. the today.  If you need to find your polling place click here