Friday, October 4, 2019

Tim Crowell sets his eye on City Hall and Hoboken's fifth ward council seat

The third council candidate in Hoboken's fifth ward election promises to create the most competitive scenario among the council ward races next month. Phil Cohen and Nick Maganuco are also vying for the seat.

Among the six wards, it's the only open seat with no incumbent. Taking the helm held by Councilman Peter Cunningham, a three-time 12-year serving councilman means there are big shoes to fill. 

After entering the race, Tim Crowell won a coveted endorsement from the Reform and good government elder statesman. How does the fifth ward council candidate view the challenges of the position?

Crowell comes to Hoboken by way of Hell's Kitchen. A six-year resident, his first encounter with Hoboken government came meeting former Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer. He notes his awareness of her predecessor, Peter Cammarano, locked up after caught by the Feds taking $25,000 in bribes.

Tim Crowell is one of three City Council candidates in the race for the fifth ward council seat in November.

Originally from Summit, NJ, the road to Hoboken has landed him with his wife and two children, a boy and girl, a neighbor of Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Sandwiched between work in Manhattan for a real estate firm and soccer practice with the kids, (he's also a goalie on a local men's team) he mentions two issues common in the fifth ward: transportation and flooding. He's more optimistic about seeing more improvements to the former noting, "NJ Transit has sent buses uptown, picking up more passengers in the fifth (ward) which is helpful."

"Flooding is a huge issue," he says of both Hoboken and the fifth ward having suffered direct experience. "When we moved in, I can't say the number of rugs thrown out, the furniture from the basement. It's devastating," before adding; "Every time there's a heavy rainstorm coming, I ask when is the high tide in Hoboken? I know there's a shot I'm going to be flooded."

There is an edge of optimism in his eyes when Crowell offers positives saying, "The administration and council are making headway... we're seeing progress." Clearly, he feels he'll contribute to those efforts with Rebuild by Design and the northwest park taking the issue in the right direction before concluding, "that's going to be a big help."

So what prompted him to get in the ring coming from the same ward former mayor Peter Cammarano lives? "One of the things I do, a buddy and I donate one Saturday a month. We take over the kitchen at the Hoboken Homeless Shelter. We buy the food and try to help others in the community."

This year, Crowell and his wife founded the block party where they live. "At first, only two people showed up but by the end, we had 65 or so folks. It transformed the block and our relationships." He recounted one story later of a neighbor's fire where he was asked to watch two children and the fire thankfully turned out to be leaves in the backyard not indoors. "We need more of that around here," he casually says adding, "the Fire Department was amazing."

What is he learning in his first time out on the campaign trail? A graduate of Union College in Schenectady, local government is not foreign to him with political science his major. "It's always been in the back of my mind to get more involved in both community and local government."

On the issues, he says, "The Union Dry Dock has been a big one I've been following. UDD & Monarch are both big issues." He's in favor of a park at the UDD site stating, "A connected park (on the waterfront) would be an amazing thing we can have for the city. I'm also very conscious of the cost and sensitive to taxes too. (This interview came prior to the official eminent domain purchase price announced yesterday.)

The financial health of the city is another priority with the city's strong credit rating. "Peter and I have talked about this. I'm going to be fiscally conservative. It's a citizens' checkbook, it's not my checkbook." 

Moving on to another issue, he states, "Pedestrian safety is huge. Vision Zero was just signed and that's great," he says of the mayor's recent announcement but then goes on to the hot topic of Lime e-Scooters. "Look across the street here and there's one parked the way it shouldn't," he points out. 

With two young girls who like to draw on the sidewalk outside their home, Crowell had plenty of critique to offer about the program to date. "When you roll out a program like this, there's three "e's" required. Education: what should happen, enforcement: someone needs to enforce the rules and engineering: there's an area outside Dino & Harry's with a sidewalk sign urging "park here." He wonders if that's been properly thought out.

Of residents he says of the Limes, "They either love them or hate them, we should be trying to take a judicious approach. No one wants people and children hit by a scooter."

With that, the interview ends. It's time to get back on to the campaign trail.

Talking Ed Note: The third candidate in the fifth ward, Phil Cohen had a chat with this editor a week back when he made a surprise call. After some discussion off the record, he elected to decline an offer to an interview.