• Hoboken City Council Elections 2019: A Q&A with Each Candidate

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    Hey Hoboken, get ready for Tuesday, November 5, 2019 — some very important local elections are happening. Though the bulk of national attention has been focused on the 2020 election, let us not forget that here in the Mile Square, we’ve got our own elections to pay attention to, and they are happening in 2019. Hoboken’s municipal election is a little less than two weeks away and in each ward, candidates for City Council are running. Do you know them all? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover a breakdown of who is running for the Hoboken City Council — and their answers to our burning local questions.

    Disclaimer: These answers are unedited. Each councilperson and each candidate submitted their answers as they are below.

    ward map

    {Photo credit: City of Hoboken}

    Hoboken City Council: How it Works 

    Let’s start here: In the City of Hoboken, there are six total wards. Do you know which ward you’re in? Click here to find out. You might be surprised to learn that the Mile Square has a population of over 53,000 as of 2018, and Ward 1 contains the most residents: 9,224. {This info comes from the latest census 2010.}

    All of the council members currently representing a ward are running for reelection; that is, except for Peter Cunningham, the Fifth Ward Councilman. Cunningham announced back in July that he would not be running again. This announcement comes after Cunningham served 12 years on the council.

    Incumbents running for re-election in November 5 include Councilman Michael DeFusco in the First Ward, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in the Second Ward, Councilman Michael Russo in the Third Ward, Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. in the Fourth Ward, and Council President Jennifer Giattino in the Sixth Ward.

    Disclaimer: HobokenGirl does not endorse any particular candidate. We only mean to provide a resource where members of the community can learn about each candidate and to encourage people to get out and vote on November 5.

    Now: Where does Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla come in? Bhalla has offered very public support for a slate of five candidates {in order of which ward they are running for}: Migdalia Pagan Milano, Nora Martinez DeBenedetto, Lisa Sprengle, Phil Cohen, and Cristin Cricco-Powell. These five candidates would win Bhalla control over City Council, which he has periodically been at odds with since his election in 2017.

    That being said, Hoboken Girl sent all of the City Council candidates the same questions to answer + get a better idea of who they are. Here are there answers, unedited – by ward:

    First Ward: Incumbent Councilman Michael DeFusco vs. Challenger Migdala Pagan-Milano

    hoboken first ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    In the First Ward of Hoboken election, we have current Councilman Michael DeFusco running again, versus Migdalia Pagan Milano, who works in the Office of Constituent Affairs.

    Councilman Michael DeFusco

    mike defusco

    {Photo courtesy of Councilman Michael DeFusco}

    Contact info: Phone: 646-372-4341 | Email: mike@mike4hoboken.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Political party: Democrat

    Hoboken Girl: What do you do for work?

    Michael DeFusco: I’m an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 media company in Manhattan.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    MD: Fifteen years, I moved to Downtown Hoboken right out of college.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    MD: I’ve always believed our waterfront should be preserved as open public space for all of us, which is why I supported the mayor’s request to authorize eminent domain at Union Dry Dock. It’s unfortunate we are in this position because the previous administration and then-Council President Bhalla failed to purchase the property six years ago when we had the opportunity to. However, if invoked, I don’t believe this translates to good economic policy and comes with serious risks for the long-time financial health of Hoboken. Specifically, we don’t know how much this will cost taxpayers when we factor in the price of the parcel, the relocation of NY Waterway, environmental remediation and construction of the new park. I fear if we had not taken immediate action, this would have been a decision we would come to regret.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    MD: Actually, I was proud to bring the first major zoning changes to Hoboken since the 1980s earlier this year with my Small Business Expansion Plan. This plan identifies three new neighborhood business districts and makes it easier for mom and pop shops and corner stores to open in our city. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and it’s important for us to support them and encourage makers, creators, and innovators to invest in Hoboken. Having served five years on the Zoning Board as the youngest voting Commissioner, I understand the complexity of zoning codes. Over the next four years, we need to create innovative zoning plans that incentivize affordable housing and micro-units that cater to artists and innovators and refine our mural ordinance to encourage free speech and groundbreaking art in our community.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    MD: As someone who rides their bike in Hoboken every day, I understand first hand the need for us to make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Vision Zero is a multi-national campaign with the goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries, and I’m looking forward to working together with the administration and City Council to achieve this. In the meantime, there’s more we can do to make our streets and walkways safer for Hoboken residents. That’s why I fought for a complete redesign of the Newark Street corridor, which will bring new traffic calming and safety improvements to our neighborhood. I’m excited this project is expected to get underway by year’s end. We’re doing this after we’ve already repaved 1st Street, fixed the sidewalks abutting Court Street, and made necessary improvements to our waterfront walkway.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    I was an early advocate to bring e-scooters to Hoboken because I believe micro-mobility technology has the potential to revolutionize transit options in our city. However, a rushed rollout by the mayor has resulted in the City’s inability to properly enforce scooter laws. I’ve consistently fought to make the program better by geofencing the waterfront, pushed for a more favorable contract with our current vendor and made penalties tougher for those who do not abide by the rules. But, if the administration cannot address the growing public safety concerns it will be very difficult for us to continue this program.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    MD: When I first ran for elected office four years ago, everyone told me the incumbent was unbeatable. Then two years ago, I was mocked and laughed at when I ran for mayor… I was told to wait my turn. This is what’s wrong with politics and exactly why I first got involved. Everyone’s voice matters, regardless of their age. I always make it a priority to stop and talk with my neighbors and everyone I pass as I walk through Hoboken. We should be encouraging Hoboken residents to come to City Council, Zoning Board, and other departmental meetings. Engaging with residents in real-life settings, in my opinion, is the best way to help our friends and neighbors engage in local government.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    MD: Hoboken is uniquely situated to be a city that leads in public arts, but unfortunately, we haven’t reached our fullest potential in this area. I’ve long believed Hoboken needs a responsible public arts and mural program to bring new life to our neighborhoods. We have so much underutilized space in our city and we should be encouraging makers and creators to invest in Hoboken. One initiative I hope we can launch in the coming year is a partnership with PSE&G that allows local artists to utilize electric boxes as blank canvases. This will be a project we all benefit from by beautifying dirty and dilapidated metal boxes on our street corners. I look forward to working with the administration and the entire City Council to continue identifying ways for Hoboken to embrace the art community.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    MD: This year, I’ve passed legislation that helps small businesses succeed in Hoboken. One of the biggest things we can do is finally utilize the empty kiosks on Pier A. These spaces can be used by local businesses to expand their visibility, bring daily entertainment to Downtown Hoboken and create a sense of place on our waterfront. I’m excited the City Council has given the green light for this initiative and look forward to working with the administration to hopefully implement a plan to open kiosks by next spring.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    MD: I’m the first openly gay municipal elected official in Hudson County.

    Migdalia Pagan Milano

    migdalia pagan

    {Photo credit: Migdalia Pagan Milano}

    Contact info: Phone: 201-658-7832 | Email: migdaliaforcouncil@gmail.com | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

    Political party: True Blue Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    MPM: As someone who was born and raised in Hoboken, I knew that as part of my professional life, I wanted to give back to the community. When I was 19, I began working in the Cultural Affairs office for the City of Hoboken, and today I work in the newly founded Office of Constituent Services. I enjoy helping people address their concerns and finding solutions to everyday problems. I also work on special projects including Hoboken Pride Week, where I coordinate and host a full week of events for our LGBTQ+ community.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    MPM: I was born in Hoboken and raised on the stoops of Clinton Street. I attended Saint Peters University. When I met my wife, Lisa, in Hoboken, the explorers in us took us on a short stint to Belgium. Hoboken was like a beacon calling me home and we nestled back into the Mile Square city.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    MPM: We miss 100% of the shots we do not take! A few years ago, when the council decided to table this decision to authorize eminent domain, we missed out on the potential to acquire it. Today, we have a second chance to purchase the property for fair market value and complete a public waterfront. As someone who grew up in Hoboken and didn’t have access to the waterfront, I never thought we’d have this opportunity. But fortunately we do today, and I 100% support the Mayor’s decision to act now.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    MPM: I support zoning that will allow the Neumann Leather Redevelopment plan to forage ahead and help revitalize this underutilized structure while preserving and protecting our art community. I remember as a child taking photography lessons from Bob Foster in his studio at Neumann Leather and every year attending the artist studio tour. Sensible zoning can help bring shopping, cafes, or a restaurant to this area and make it a destination for all to enjoy.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    MPM: I grew up as a kid playing ball in front of my stoop, on our streets, and on our sidewalks. Hoboken was different then — less congestion, less cars, less traffic, and less people. The growth of our population is pushing us to the limit with traffic, congestion and parking issues. Hoboken is still one of the most walkable cities in the entire country and we must do more to make our streets safer for pedestrians. Curb extensions, pedestrian safety countdown timers, and protected bike lanes are a good start, and as someone who bikes to work every day, I applaud the mayor for taking a stand and making the safety of the residents his number one priority.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    MPM: While living in Europe my wife taught me how to ride a bicycle. It is an important life skill everyone should have. This mode of transportation was so common there and provides a valuable alternative to driving, which reduces our carbon footprint. With our climate changing it is important we consider options like electric scooters. I’m very pleased that they’ve been so well utilized. That being said, it is essential that users obey the rules in order for this to be successful, and I support a full evaluation of the program’s effectiveness and safety improvements by the end of the pilot before we evaluate the future of e-scooters. The safety of our residents should be our top priority.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    MPM: As I’ve said a number of times on the campaign trail, it’s essential that Councilmembers don’t just visit and speak with constituents when it’s election time. In the Office of Constituent Services, I helped facilitate well-attended community meetings in the 1st Ward and in other neighborhoods to discuss a wide variety of neighborhood issues. I pledge to work cooperatively with Mayor Bhalla to hold regular town hall events in the neighborhood so all voices can be heard, and not just during election time.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    MPM: Improvements in Hoboken start with City Councilmembers who will work cooperatively for the benefit of the community. The current Council constantly tries to undermine the Mayor at all turns and the only people that hurts are the residents of our great city. While we may not always agree on every issue, the First Ward will see many more results with someone that the Mayor respects and trusts to get the job done. At a time when our national politics are filled with such divisiveness and partisan politics, it’s more important now than ever to have a civil discourse and relationship with local city government officials.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    MPM: This past weekend {Editor’s Note: This was an event that happened earlier this year}, the 1st Street business community organized their second annual block party and it was a great success. This was in part because the Mayor’s office offered a helping hand to the businesses to support their event. I believe city government should do more of this to assist our small business owners on everything from sponsoring more block parties {the 1st Street block party should take place twice a year and is something I’ll work on when I’m elected}, opening up small businesses, and walking them through the ins and outs of complicated zoning rules, and construction regulations. I support adding a division to the Constituent Services Office that provides a direct liaison to the business community so opening or expanding small businesses in Hoboken doesn’t become an unnecessary burden.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    MPM: Have kayak will travel! I love going camping, mountain biking, hiking, and bringing our inflatable kayak along to inflate where ever we can find a body of water. Notice swimming was not part of that equation.

    Second Ward: Incumbent Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher vs. Challenger Nora Martinez DeBenedetto

    hoboken second ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    In the Second Ward of Hoboken election, we have current Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher running again, versus Nora Martinez DeBenedetto.

    Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher

    tiffanie fischer hoboken city council

    {Photo courtesy of Tiffanie Fisher}

    Contact info: Phone: 201-208-1674 | Email: hoboken2nd@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work:

    TF: Currently, I work as a full-time councilperson. Previously I worked for 22 years in finance, banking, and commercial real estate, most recently as the CFO of a large shopping center company.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    TF: I moved to Hoboken 25 years ago and have been a resident of the Second Ward for the past 19 years.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    TF: Completing our waterfront is what started my path to public service. In 2011, I began my advocacy and led the public fight against the proposed Monarch project, joined by so many neighbors throughout Hoboken.  This fight, which continues now with both Monarch and UDD, is just the tail end of what our community started three decades ago to provide public access to Hoboken’s waterfront. Unfortunately, Mayor Bhalla has inherited a difficult situation with this property and I continue to be completely supportive of his efforts to acquire the site. In this scenario, not only do I believe in preserving Hoboken’s waterfront for public use, but I also do not believe we found ourselves in any situation where NYWW ceases its operations in our city. Ferry services are far too important for this area and NJ Transit has already identified alternative locations where NYWW could run its operations.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    TF: Our zoning code is vast, but the big one that comes to mind relates to parking. I would reduce our required parking ratio for new development so that future projects attract fewer cars because if you don’t build it, they won’t come. We need to be thinking strategically about our future and what we can do to make our quality of life better and community safer. The growth of cars in Hoboken is behind much of what concerns residents today. We are already incorporating this discussion into our various redevelopment plans across the city, most notably the Hoboken Rail Yards Plan.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    TF: The City Council unanimously approved a contract for a Vision Zero consultant two weeks ago.  I 100% support the overall vision of this project because it aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths and injury. I am equally supportive of having an experienced consultant help us achieve this. Hoboken is lacking in what I call a “culture of safety” and we need to do everything to fix it.  This isn’t a top-down exercise, this is a 360-degree one that needs to be as far-reaching into our community in order to get the public engaged, which is at the core of Vision Zero. We did a similar exercise in 2010 that culminated in a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that mostly wasn’t implemented. I am all in for Vision Zero and for making sure this time we actually make a difference.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    TF: I have been the biggest Council voice on this topic. My advocacy has led to requiring ID scans for riders, reducing the speed limit along the waterfront, adding penalties into our code for reckless riding, performing a benchmarking study to understand best practices from other cities, and now sponsoring legislation to ban them from our parks.

    I fought to increase economics to the City from $12,500 to over $100K so we can be better compensated for the enforcement burden. My position is that we need to do as much as possible to try to make e-scooters work in Hoboken given the mobility advantages, but the only way they can work is if our residents feel safe. Currently, they just don’t because of reckless riding and insufficient enforcement.  It may come across like I want to kill the e-scooter program permanently, but that’s not my position, at least not yet. I think we need to continue with safety improvements during this pilot and take the winter off to identify what we need to see happen in order to potentially launch again in the spring. Last time the goal of the administration was to be “first” with a program in NJ, but I think a better goal is to have a program that is “right” for Hoboken {or not have anything at all}.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    TF: I have always involved residents in the decision making process in Hoboken.  My slogan in 2015 that I still live by and will be using again is “Engage. Inform. Advocate.” and I have strived to keep Hoboken residents up to date on important issues through email, social media and group events. I feel strongly that we have transparency and community input on all issues, especially those that are controversial.

    An example was last year when the administration tried to rush through an ordinance allowing recreational marijuana dispensaries in Hoboken – with the goal of being first in New Jersey – with no plan or interest in getting public input. Alarmed, and quite frankly not sure of what my constituents wanted to see, I quickly sent out an informative email and asked for input and received roughly 200 responses over the course of the following two days.  This was the catalyst for the administration to call a public meeting on the topic, similarly with e-scooters. This wasn’t my issue originally, but when e-scooters were dumped on our streets with no enforcement or education plan and local children were riding them, the public felt lost, without instruction and no idea where we were headed. I stepped in and began an information and advocacy campaign to make sure people understood what had happened and also helped inform me on the right direction to take.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    TF: Changing our culture to better own and respect safety in our community. We all need to share in the responsibility of doing our part when we walk out the front door – we are all pedestrians at least at some point during the day. We all need to stop at stop signs, be alert when we cross a street, cross when the light is green, and don’t ride e-scooters recklessly on sidewalks. Remember that we are all in this together, we are all neighbors and we all want to be safe.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    TF: A lot. For the past decade, the city has not made economic development a priority. But under this administration, I was able to get the support for a Special Improvement District like you see in the economically flourishing areas of Jersey City. By working with several of our local property and business owners, we put together a framework for a SID for the entire city and the City Council approved its establishment, serving as a catalyst for restoring our Main Street and business environment across the city. As one of the first tasks of the SID, I hope it will modify the process for business openings so that we can help businesses operate more efficiently {less costly, less time}.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    TF: Trying to choose between having dated Larry the Cable Guy almost two decades before he was Larry the Cable Guy, that I rescued a duck last week in Hoboken, or that I have been a bridesmaid/maid of honor 18 times {asked 20} and yet no movie has been made about me. Seriously, I have a sense of humor, a big heart for small things, and I am that good friend you want to be by your side, all at the same time.

    See More: What Hoboken Ward Do I Live In?

    Nora Martinez DeBenedetto

    nora martinez debenedetto hoboken city council candidate

    {Photo courtesy of Nora Martinez DeBenedetto}

    Contact info: Email: Noradebe42@gmail.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

    Political party: Proud Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    NMD: I have been working as a teacher at Kaplan Cooperative Preschool here in Hoboken for the last 13 years. I am also the coordinator of the city of Hoboken’s Art in the Park program, which has expanded during my tenure to include about 600 children each summer. Until recently I also wrote a weekly recipe column for The Jersey Journal. Check out the archives if you need some dinner-time inspiration!

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    NMD: Except for a quick post-college stint in Jersey City Heights, I have lived in Hoboken for my whole life. My husband and I were both born at St. Mary’s Hospital {now the Hoboken University Medical Center}, and we were raised right here in the Second Ward – actually we grew up on the same block. We are thrilled to be raising our young son, Otis, in the neighborhood that is so dear to us.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    NMD: I am proud to stand beside Mayor Bhalla and his decision to acquire the Union Dry Dock through eminent domain. Having grown up in Hoboken, I can remember a time when there was basically no waterfront access at all. I was lucky to be a first-hand witness as my parents and their friends, the first wave of reformers, fought hard for every inch of waterfront that we are so lucky to enjoy today. Now is the time for Hoboken to act boldly so we can finally realize the dream of a contiguous waterfront — one that allows access for all citizens.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    NMD: I support zoning that would allow for a transformation of Northwest Hoboken. We must place the emphasis on commercial zones and retail so that we can alleviate the burden on our schools and infrastructure. The Mile Square Theater has done an amazing job of staking out space in the northwest corner. I would love to see other arts organizations joining them there so we can create an arts district, a destination that adults can enjoy in Hoboken every night of the week.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    NMD: After a lot of work and research, I was proud to release my pedestrian safety plan last week {check it out here}. Working together with Mayor Bhalla, I see the safety of all citizens as the number one priority for Hoboken. Of course, we need protected bike lanes, more enforcement for *all* vehicles, and a better plan to keep scooters off sidewalks. However, I also believe that there are some common-sense things we could be doing to help ease congestion on our busy streets. Every time there is a road closure, whether due to a community block party or planned PSE&G work, it doesn’t seem that crazy that we could just, maybe let people know. By placing a temporary sign that says, “BLOCK PARTY AHEAD, TAKE ALTERNATE ROUTE,” I believe we could avoid a lot of headaches and road rage. If we want to cram 60,000 people into a square mile, we have to find the simple solutions that make everyone’s lives just a little bit easier.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    NMD: As for the scooters, I’m glad the city ended their contract with Ojo. They were way too big and I think everyone is relieved that the young mother and her infant who were hit were not more seriously injured.

    I’m disappointed that my opponent and some other members of the city council voted not to allow a scooter question on November’s ballot. I would really like to know how the public feels about the program because I have spoken to hundreds of people in the Second Ward and I can tell you that everyone has an opinion.

    I believe that anything that is not a car deserves a fair shot because our streets are simply too congested. I can guarantee you that the scooters have cut down on the number of Ubers and Lyfts taken on a daily basis in Hoboken, and that is a very good thing. As someone who uses rideshare services quite often, I find their drivers to be totally unfamiliar with the strong pedestrian culture we have in Hoboken.

    Lime has already suspended over three hundred individual accounts due to tandem riding, underage use, and other illegal behavior. If Hoboken’s new scooter enforcement agents are able to diligently continue on this track, then I think scooters can find their place alongside cars and bikes in the streets of Hoboken. Scooters belong on the streets, always.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    NMD: My motto is “Talk Less, Listen More.” I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I believe strongly in my ability to gather information from the people who know more than I do, or who offer a different perspective. That is what effective governing is all about, and I intend to use that information to make informed decisions that will help all Hobokenites. If I’m lucky enough to be elected, Second Ward residents can look forward to monthly office hours where you can speak personally with your councilperson.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    NMD: If you’ve ever talked to me for more than five minutes, then you know I’m obsessed with the Hop, the city-sponsored shuttle bus program. My son and I take the Hop to and from school every day, and while I used to be one of only a handful of riders, I find that it is now packed all the time. This is a good problem to have.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    NMD: I’ve had a chip on my shoulder about uptown Hoboken for a long time. I see the amazing retail culture of 1st Street and I have to wonder why the city doesn’t take the same steps to support the businesses on 14th Street. Where is our annual block party and petting zoo? This is a street that has long been a destination for a good meal, but the city should be helping to bring in other retail to diversify the area. At the top of 14th Street, we have the ferry, where hundreds of riders disembark every hour. Those people should all be strolling along and shopping at cute shops. With cohesive signage and sidewalk beautification, I believe that 14th Street could become a true destination for our neighborhood.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    NMD: As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised in Hoboken and I’m still here. That’s pretty unique. I’ve also worked in lots of different jobs throughout Hoboken. I poured lattes at Empire Coffee and made a mean margarita at Baja. A lot of words to describe me: activist, teacher, Latina, wife, mom, Hobokenite. The bottom line is that I believe representation matters, and I hope that I can make Hoboken a better place as a result of my unique perspective.

    Third Ward: Incumbent Councilman Michael Russo vs. Challenger Ronald Bautista

    hoboken third ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    In the Third Ward of Hoboken election, we have current Councilman Michael Russo running again, versus Ronald Bautista.

    Councilman Michael Russo

    russo candidate

    {Photo courtesy of Councilman Michael Russo}

    Contact info: Email: CouncilmanRusso@gmail.com | Phone: 201-401-9687 | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Political party: Democratic

    HG: What do you do for work?

    MR: [I] own and operate NJIB, a physical therapy company.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    MR: For 44 years.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    MR: I agree with it! I voted to acquire the New York Waterways property using the powers of eminent domain. This action is long overdue and will ensure the residents of Hoboken have a contiguous waterfront park for this generation and generations to come.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    MR: The current zoning code is not necessarily the issue; the application of the code is not consistent. We need to do a better job to eliminate any contradictions and write laws that will limit interpretations by our officials tasked to uphold the law. I would, however, like to see additional overlay districts to address things like a “Medical District” for Hospitals, Nursing Homes or Assisted Living facilities in the City and expand existing districts like our “Historic Preservation District.”

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    MR: I support the Vision Zero initiative. We must do all we can to ensure the safety of all our residents. As Chairman of the Council’s Parking and Transportation Committee and a member of the Vision Zero task force I have and will continue to insist on changes that protect our residents while providing alternative transportation options throughout the third ward and the city. This is why I have advocated for Protected Bike Lanes in the Third Ward, voted to add two-way stop signs around all third ward parks, and continue to offer suggestions on alternative roadway improvements to calm traffic in our neighborhoods.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    MR: I originally supported both pilot programs, however, our residents were promised by both companies that they had the technology to keep our residents safe. Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated that they do not. As a result of this, one contract has already been terminated and I will not vote to renew the other.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    MR: I believe the Council has worked with the Administration to ensure the participation of our citizens in the decision-making process. We must continue to ensure our residents have ample time to digest and advocate on all issues facing our city, by utilizing both conventional {mail, phone, and private + public meetings} and digital {email, website, and social media} means of communication.

    One example of this level of involvement and communication followed my vote to ensure public hearings are held before any changes are made to city-owned parks. This was vital to ensure the needs of our neighbors in the third ward during a lengthy public process for the planning of our newest “West End” park {located between 6th and 7th on Jackson Street}. The addition of the park has quadrupled the amount of open space in the third ward and helps to alleviate flooding with a water detention system of 500,000 gallons. Without this level of communication and involvement, my neighbors and I would not have been able to achieve such lofty goals.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    MR: Parking and transportation continue to be a major issue in our city. Balancing the needs of residents that utilize various modes of transportation requires creative solutions. I have voted to initiate all of these alternative methods and will continue to be on the forefront of transportation alternatives; however, we cannot pretend that cars are not part of our transportation choices. They are and will continue to be, therefore we need to increase the ability to park these vehicles in our city. We must not treat any mode of transportation as the enemy of another.  They are all vital methods to those who rely on them. Because of this fact, I was surprised while the administration announced the start of the build-out of the Northwest park, there is no plan to start building the city garage in the adjacent lot or plans for any additional garages to be built in the city.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    MR: The biggest complaint I hear from business owners is the time-consuming process that they must endure before they can open their doors for the first time. As a small business owner, I can appreciate their plight. We need to revamp and simplify that process from the application process to the inspections and final issuance of the certificate of occupancy.  In addition to that we need to reward good behavior and find innovative ways to do that, so we can re-establish a strong business community without fear of these establishments moving beyond our borders.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    MR: I was born and raised in Hoboken and graduated from Hoboken High School. Although not unique, it is rare in our local city government. My post-graduate work includes attaining a Doctor of Physical Therapy. It was my time playing football at Hoboken High School that I decided to go into the world of medicine, but most people don’t know before that I wanted to be an attorney. It was while in high school that I also attained the rank of Eagle Scout, which is in fact unique. Earning the rank of Eagle Scout has instilled some unique qualities in me, such as the ability to be self-reliant at a young age which lends itself well to be an effective leader. I shoulder responsibilities and am always accountable for my decisions {especially the hardest decisions} while having the ability to put aside ego, learn from mistakes and adjust accordingly.

    Ronald Bautista

    ron bautista profile pic city candidates

    {Photo courtesy of Ron Bautista}

    Contact info: Email: vote@ronbautistanj.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

    Political party: Registered Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    RB: I work in New York City leading cultural competency and Latino marketing initiatives at one of the largest nonprofit health plans in the country.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    RB: I’ve lived in Hoboken for 20 years. Hoboken High School class of 2004!

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    RB: My reason to run for office is to fight for a Hoboken that works for all ages and abilities. I’m a happy father to my one-year-old baby girl, Sofia, who I hope can grow up healthy and safe. She is truly my inspiration to challenge the status quo and help make our community better. You know, many of us cannot afford to have a backyard, and in Hoboken, we see public parks as a symbol of equality. The Hoboken waterfront is a place open to everyone; regardless of income, heritage or language, we all can meet at the waterfront as equals and enjoy a unique place. This is all being jeopardized by NY Waterway’s corporate interests that unnecessarily want to bring a highly polluting ferry diesel depot to Union Dry Dock. Because of the decades of community activism for a fully connected public waterfront, and to protect the diverse families that use the space surrounding Union Dry Dock, I fully support the use of eminent domain which will provide fair payment for the property to turn it into a park.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    RB: Hoboken High School, the Monroe Center, four parks, Hoboken Catholic Academy and the Jubilee Center; they all have a street intersection in Hoboken’s Third Ward. People walk from all over the city to get to these places. If we think of an eight-year-old crossing the street, which intersections in our city would not be safe enough? Research shows that the biggest danger to pedestrians is the speed of cars, since most people can survive getting hit by a car at 20mph, but at 30mph most people don’t. We need to make a commitment to safer streets and the one thing I would like to have in our zoning code is a 15mph city-wide speed limit.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    RB: It wasn’t too long ago that 60-year-old William Rivera died after getting hit by a car in Hoboken. Agnes Acerra, 89 years old, was fatally hit by a car that did not stop at the crosswalk of 5th and Washington Street; this was not too long before the redesign project of this street was debated at the City Council a few years ago. We’ve had more than 375 injuries from crashes over the past five years, and the Vision Zero Project was just really launched a few weeks ago so not much that we can evaluate yet. I can say that it’s been parents and local activists that have been pushing for action in pedestrian safety. We have to support the Hoboken PD’s initiatives by complementing enforcement with the prevention, and that’s done by supporting our engineers’ proven solutions.

    I’ve been a pedestrian safety advocate for a few years, and as councilman, I will fight to make our streets safer for all ages and abilities by:

    1. Rearranging our streets so that the car travel lanes are no wider than 10.5 feet, as the wider they are the more they stimulate higher speed on drivers.

    2. Expanding the corners with bump-outs. This shortens crossing distance to reduce the time people are exposed to cars, forces drivers to do a full turn at a slow speed, and keeps the crossings clear so drivers can see pedestrians and vice versa. We can do this fast and at a lower cost by using planters, which also beautifies the street.

    3. Place street bumps right before a driver reaches intersections. This helps enforce NJ State Law that mandates all vehicles to stop for pedestrians regardless of whether there’s a stop sign or not.

    4. Have a real network of protected bike lanes throughout the city. It’s been proven that protected bike lanes drastically reduce the number of riders on sidewalks, and encourages traffic-free means of transportation that cause a lower risk on pedestrians in comparison to cars.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    RB: In my years of advocacy, my number one priority has always been the pedestrian. I was so upset when I found out a rider on an OjO Electric scooter had hit a mother while walking with her child in her stroller. There are no excuses for a jerk like that. I’m relieved that both Katie Cohen and her baby are OK. That same night I immediately posted on Twitter that we shouldn’t renew the program with OjO Electric scooters, as they showed throughout the pilot that they were not ready in terms of geo-regulating the speed of their scooters, they’re bigger than Lime’s, and they had nothing to show in education nor enforcement.

    Enforcement can only go so far, that’s when prevention through engineering comes in. Together with other activists, we’ve been asking city council for years to have more protected bike lanes, and my opponent has been especially passive on this. An example is when we pushed for protected bike lanes on Washington Street {which didn’t have support in the council}, and now we see how much double-parking is getting in the way of both drivers and riders.

    Engineering also provides us with the tools for managing risk. The only thing that’s certain is that there will be jerks in our streets, and there’s a huge difference in having someone being a jerk walking, biking and on a Lime vs in a two-ton car. The size and speed of a vehicle matter, which is why the biggest danger to pedestrians are cars; again, most people can survive getting hit by a car at 20mph, but at 30mph most people don’t. Lime scooters are fixed to go up to 15mph and data has shown that it has replaced the need for Uber/Lyft trips in town.

    Right now we live in the second county with highest childhood asthma caused by traffic fumes, and to protect our children my goal is to have 100% renewable energy transportation in Hoboken by 2030. The bike-share program, expanding the Hop shuttle service to later at night and seven days a week, electrifying the shuttle fleet, having a network of protected bike lanes, and continuing to improve the Lime scooter program are some of the ways we can achieve this.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    RB: I took the first step a year and a half ago. I believe we need to make it easier for residents to know about the decisions being made by our city representatives, so for months, I advocated to the Mayor’s office to get the Council meetings live-streamed on the City’s Facebook page. The Council sessions videos now average about 3,000 views every two weeks, and believe me, council members and candidates are reading your comments!

    As councilman, I will have monthly public meetups at a neighborhood coffee shop so that we can work together to push our city to be more people-friendly, with better transit, cleaner air, and safer streets. I’m looking forward to taking a stand together with my neighbors.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    RB: We have to evaluate our city by how we treat our most vulnerable neighbors, and I would like us to see things from their perspective. That when we’re discussing the need for more mixed-income apartments through a Community Land Trust, we think of the 70-year-old woman living on a fixed income in Hoboken whose energy comes from all the benefits of living in this city. That when we think all we need is “eye contact” as a pedestrian safety measure, we remember that the visually impaired and the eight-year-olds walking the street deserve more from us.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    Jersey City businesses are thriving in areas like Grove Street by making it into a more attractive place to visit. They’re doing it through pedestrian plazas, music, and art year-round. This is not something new, as it has been done in cities throughout the world. We need more initiatives like New Brunswick’s Ciclovia, or Bogota’s {Colombia} Open Street Sundays as a way to support our business community.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    RB: Since day one I’ve pledged to represent the residents of Hoboken, not big-money donors. I don’t take any contributions from real estate developers, corporate PACs, or corporate lobbyists.

    Read More: 16 Local Millennial Entrepreneurs Kicking A$$ in Hoboken + Jersey City

    Fourth Ward: Incumbent Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. vs. Challenger Lisa Sprengle

    hoboken fourth ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    In the Fourth Ward of Hoboken election, we have current Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. running again, versus Lisa Sprengle.

    Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr.

    ruben ramos

    {Photo courtesy of Ruben Ramos}

    Contact info: Phone: 201-401-7947 | Email: councilmanramos4@gmail.com | Facebook

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    RR: [I] am a teacher in the Paterson Public Schools.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    RR: I’ve lived in Hoboken for 45 years — I grew up in Hoboken.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    RR: I support the acquisition of Union Dry Dock for public park. Growing up in Hoboken we had little to no access to the waterfront. I would like to complete the community goal that started over 30 years ago to create a linear park along Hoboken’s waterfront for the public to enjoy.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    RR: I’d create a system of accountability that tracks when an applicant entered City Hall to file plans, received permits, and received certificate of occupancy.  Our way of tracking zoning and construction is pretty antiquated and would like to see it more automated and easier to navigate.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    RR: [I] support Vision Zero, that’s why I fought for new traffic signals to be put in place in Southwest Hoboken. Especially around [the] area of [the] Southwest Park so pedestrians can safely get to [the] park.  Also, why I advocated for new safety features along Newark Street which will be implemented in the coming months.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    RR: The no.1 priority for the scooter program has to be safety and enforcement. Right now we are not doing a very good job of enforcement. I think the program is worth keeping but that’s only if we see a rapid improvement in enforcement.  If that doesn’t happen we should halt the program until we find a better solution to enforce the rules.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    RR: We’ve always involved residents through outreach and public meetings. I send out daily e-mails to keep the public informed and public meetings are held with regards to redevelopment and park planning. I make every effort to engage public because I take great pride in constituent services and outreach.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    RR: Two priorities over the next four years will be the construction of new schools. I’ve visited every school in the city and they are all either in need of dire facility upgrades or are lacking some of the basic elements of a school such as a cafeteria or an auditorium.  So I’d like to include the development of new schools in our remaining redevelopment zones.  I’d also like to focus on improving our entryways in and out of Hoboken. They are either unattractive or congested which is why I fought so hard for a new traffic study that for the first time will include Hudson County and Jersey roads where we can work collaboratively to find solutions to the traffic problems.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    RR: Sponsored the expansion of Commercial Business District that will help eliminate some of the red tape and allow additional uses along 1st Street which will allow for different types of businesses to open besides dry cleaners and nail salons. We can also make visitors feel more welcome when it comes to our parking regulations and do a much better job guiding visitors to off-street parking locations

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    RR: I don’t know if this is unique but I am a huge sports fan, love all my teams Steelers, Devils, Pirates, Arsenal, support all Rutgers sports teams because they are our state university, and I stopped rooting for the Nets when they left New Jersey so I’ve adopted the Knicks. I don’t know if this is unique or just odd but I’ve never had chocolate or eaten a birthday cake, didn’t even have a bite of my wedding cake!

    Lisa Sprengle

    lisa city council

    {Photo courtesy of Lisa Sprengle}

    Contact info: Phone: 646-413-1982 | Email: lisa4ward4@gmail.com | FacebookTwitter

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    LS: Finance and accounting

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken? 

    LS: [I have] lived in Hoboken since 2006.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    LS: I am in full support of the Mayor’s movement to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into open space. New York Waterway has not acted in an honest manner with regards to the Union Dry Dock development and eminent domain would allow appropriate negotiations to take place.  New York Waterway’s proposed plans are concerning for a variety of reasons.  First, the health hazards of increased diesel fumes are dangerous to all Hoboken residents and visitors, and in particular children.   Second, given that this is a refueling station, there is an increased risk of a diesel spill.  In January 2018, on New York Waterways watch, at their current location and just south of their Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, a refueling truck spilled hundreds of gallons of diesel oil into the Hudson River.  Third, this refueling station would be right next door to the Hoboken Cove, which is the only area of access to the water in Hoboken.  Residents are able to kayak and paddleboard, a diesel refueling puts that at risk, creating a higher safety risk to those in kayaks and on paddleboards. Finally, Union Dry Dock is the last step in creating one continuous walkway along Hoboken’s waterfront and allowing all who enjoy the waterfront to do so in its entirety.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    LS: Rather than recommend a change, I would strongly recommend that we remain vigilant with regard to the Southwest Hoboken Redevelopment Plan, adopted by the City Council on June 7th, 2017. This was a thorough and intensive study that was conducted by the City, at the recommendation of the Planning Board, and it resulted in the Plan becoming the zoning law in a large area of Hoboken’s southwest. After robust public engagement where public feedback was taken into consideration, this Plan sets forth the limits on allowable density, taking into account the traffic flow and the additional stress any development would place on our infrastructure. I believe that the collaboration and transparency during the process yielded great results, but the Plan allows for some flexibility in its implementation.  Right now, for example, it seems Academy Bus, a major property owner under the Plan, seeks under the Plan to build hundreds of additional units of residential housing beyond what the Plan envisions, which I am strongly opposed to. We need to push back against that effort. Our Southwest area cannot handle the added traffic, density, and stress on our infrastructure, nor should we in Hoboken’s Southwest be asked to accommodate it.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    LS: I support the Vision Zero safety campaign which aims to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and fatalities by 2030.  As a runner, biker and driver, I experience, the stress of navigating through Hoboken through a variety of modes.  As a mom, I’m counting on the city to keep the streets of Hoboken safe for my child, and everyone at all times.  If we desire a family friendly neighborhood, we have to make sure it is safe for everyone.  The city has made great strides in this area but Vision Zero provides the much needed focus and support to bring Hoboken across the finish line.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    LS: I am in support of the scooter pilot program in Hoboken. In general, pilot programs are a great way to provide the community, the police, and our government a chance to learn, observe and determine if the program is one that provides needed benefits and solves existing problems without entering into a long term commitment with unknown results. Lime has been very amenable to working with the city to address feedback in a timely manner, providing signage, training, setting up community engagement booths at the pier, analyzing the data to make necessary adjustments. There are still areas of this pilot program to be worked through, such as underage riders, 2 people riding at the same time and of course traffic violations. I was encouraged that the Mayor was able to negotiate with Lime, mid-pilot to increase Hoboken’s percentage to assist with additional oversight and enforcement. It is important and forward-thinking to seek new transportation alternatives to car ownership and driving when our roads are already saturated with so much traffic. We need as many alternatives as possible but done so with the safety of all in mind.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    LS: I plan to involve the residents of the city with full transparency as to when and where events are being held, using social media, posting on the City website, posting signs at parks, libraries, the community center. Live streaming of the City Council meetings is a great benefit for seniors and any busy parent that may not be able to get out to attend meetings but want to be involved. Of course, I will always be available to my constituents by email and cell phone.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    LS: Pedestrian safety is an issue I would like to see improve most in the city. As stated in the Vision Zero response, this is a great step in the right direction and with collaboration between the City and the insight of residents; Hoboken will continue to move forward on pedestrian safety, making our streets safe for all Hoboken residents. Hand in hand with this issue, comes the issue of traffic. Jersey City recently approved a 13 story building behind the Hoboken Business Center, on the corner of Harrison and Observer with 161 units and a parking garage. Jersey City has also approved several developments along New York Avenue, directly across the street from our 4th Ward, all with parking and over 100 units each. Recently, Hoboken and Jersey City have joined together to commission a joint traffic study, which is the first step in the right direction, however, this has been done before and the key is to continue to work, advocate and keep this issue a priority for both Hoboken and Jersey City.

    HG: What can the City be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    LS: Hoboken could offer small business owners a more proactive advocate in the City Hall. This advocate could help partner with local businesses, assist small business owners, and take a city-wide approach to planning. The Special Improvement District is a great first step.  The city advocate could act as a liaison between the Special Improvement District and the local businesses to address some of the issues that are not within the ability of the Special Improvement District to control.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    LS: I am an accountant and a lawyer. I spent the majority of my childhood in the suburbs of Chicago, but I’ve lived in downtown Chicago, Ohio, Florida, New York City, and now Hoboken, our home. We have lived in Hoboken for the past 13 years and made friends here in Hoboken from Portugal, Italy, England, India, Pakistan, Spain, Japan, Canada, along with so many local residents, artists, and artisans. This is an incredibly diverse culture where people come from around the world to make this our best community. In talking to friends, there are common themes that unite us all, concerns for how we keep our families safe, how we pay for school, and basic quality of life concerns. And now, I want to merge all of my experiences, from running a business and solving problems of the corporate world, to working for clients to protect their rights, and listening to friends and solving real-life issues, to move us all forward to create a better Hoboken. I believe that the more residents that get involved, the better we will all be as a community.  We have tremendous untapped potential that exists in our residents, we are our own most valuable assets, and I’d love work for you to help facilitate that connection.

    Fifth Ward: Candidates Nicola Maganuco, Timothy Crowell, Phil Cohen

    hoboken fifth ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    In the Fifth Ward of Hoboken election, we have Nicola Maganuco, Timothy Crowell, and Phil Cohen running.

    Nicola Maganuco

    nicola city council

    {Photo courtesy of Nicola Maganuco}

    Contact info: Phone: 201-228-0620 | Email: NicolaForHoboken@gmail.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

    Political party: Non-partisan candidate

    HG: What do you do for work:

    NM: I’m currently an Assistant Vice President in Regulatory Governance for a global financial services company headquartered in New York City. I assist in responding to regulator requests from different agencies or auditors {i.e. New York State Department of Finance, Federal Reserve, Securities & Exchange Commission, KPMG, etc.}.  I also report to senior management on the audits, regulatory exams, and risk events that occur throughout the company.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    NM: About 4 years in Hoboken. I grew up in Wayne, New Jersey for 23 years. Originally from Italy.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    NM: Unfortunately, Mayor Bhalla has not been successful to reach an agreement with NY Waterway, therefore the city’s last chance to preserve the space is by exercising eminent domain. In theory, government should work hard to avoid eminent domain because it’s ultimately a burden on Hoboken taxpayers from the possible years of litigation and unanticipated costs to the city. However, I absolutely support the area being kept as an open space/park. I came to Hoboken because I fell in love with the waterfront so we can’t allow it to become NY Waterway’s proposed maintenance ferry facility. In addition to the environmental concerns, a ferry facility is simply not a good fit for our Hoboken waterfront.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    NM: I would link the Resilient Building Design Guidelines to the City’s Zoning Ordinance. These are guidelines that help provide flood resilience strategies for property and building owners, developers, and businesses. As we all know our city is prone to flooding so if we can link these guidelines to our zoning code it will help design buildings that are more resilient to flooding, which helps mitigate further damage and disruption to our city.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    NM: I fully support the Vision Zero project. It calls for an aggressive (but ideal) outcome of eliminating all pedestrian injuries and automobile-related fatalities to zero by 2030. What the projects does well is call for infrastructure upgrades and design improvements to roadways such as protected bike lanes, which we desperately need. The project was recently launched so I’ll refrain from commenting on what it could do better, but I would recommend the taskforce to receive as much community feedback as possible especially from the Lime community as they do add a layer of complexity with their recent arrival.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    NM: I am for keeping the scooter pilot program, but additional education and enforcement is absolutely necessary. Many residents I speak to are concerned about their safety and safety to others. Hoboken has tremendous opportunity to provide riders and pedestrians further safety reassurance. We need to re-paint certain streets to make bike/scooter lanes friendlier and clearer to riders to use. I would also add signage around the city where ridership and parking is and isn’t permitted. There are many more solutions that can be proposed to bring riders and pedestrians at ease.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    NM: We live in an “app” era so I would like to see an app that can be customized by choosing a selection of categories a resident chooses to be informed about. This mobile app would have the ability to connect the resident with their elected council official {and at-large} so greater community feedback is encouraged. The app would also have the ability to push public surveys and make residents aware when their relevant issues are voted on at City Council meetings. Ultimately this app would help everyday residents understand the discussions/decisions taking place at City Council meetings while increasing dialogue with their city leader(s).

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    NM: Improving public transit is my biggest platform. I’m an advocate for commuters as the founder of the twitter handle @HobokenCommuter. We are growing as a city so our public transit, parking, and traffic is becoming more and more unsustainable with increased residential development. As a daily rider of the 126 bus, I understand how difficult commuting can be especially during peak periods. I have solutions that can help ease the burden for commuters while investing in smart technology to make it more efficient. We also have to be smarter with development. I would want to see more commercial and retail uptown. All this can be found on my website www.NicolaForHoboken.com.

    HG: What can the City be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    NM: The charm of Hoboken is the “mom and pop” shops so we need to encourage more local business growth especially at a time where we see a lot of empty storefronts. One way we can do this is by making it easier to start a business in Hoboken. The city can provide an intuitive web portal that makes it seamless for entrepreneurs to get started. The web portal would guide entrepreneurs of the application process every step of the way. The web portal would offer additional features such as an interactive zoning map of possible locations a business can open or even display available spaces that can be leased. It can also be used as the city’s central tool for everything related to local business such as community forums, document depository, or a communications gateway with other city departments.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    NM: I am the youngest candidate running for City Council and my birthday is on election day {November 5th}.

    Timothy Crowell

    timothy city councl

    {Photo courtesy of Timothy Crowell}

    Contact info: Email: tim@timforhoboken.orgFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    TC: I work as an Asset Manager for a real estate investment company.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    TC: My wife and I moved here six years ago shortly after the birth of our daughter. We purchased our home on Garden Street over four years ago.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    TC: Let me start off by saying that I think having a contiguous waterfront park would be amazing for the City of Hoboken.  This is an opportunity to shape the Hoboken Waterfront for generations to come.  My concern with Mayor Bhalla’s approach is two-fold.  First, I haven’t heard anything about the total cost.  We know that NY Waterway purchased the site for $11.5 million in 2017 and to obtain the property through eminent domain we need to negotiate with NY Waterway or go to court.  Either way, the city will need to pay fair market value for the property.  That doesn’t include legal fees, environmental cleanup at the site, or development costs associated with a new park.  Not to mention the possibility of relocation costs being awarded to NY Waterway.  Do we know how much this waterfront park is really going to cost?

    TC: The second part of Mayor Bhalla’s approach that I am cautious about is his seemingly uncompromising stance on a maintenance facility at Union Dry saying, “It will not happen during this administration: over my dead body”.  It seems like we are heading towards a protracted legal battle that could be costly.  What happens if the City of Hoboken doesn’t win?  If NY Waterway comes out of a long legal battle with the right to develop the property my guess is that they will be less likely to listen to any of the thoughts or concerns Hoboken has about their designs and proposed plans.  The relationship between Hoboken and NY Waterway would be starting off on the wrong foot.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    TC: The purpose of the zoning code is to “promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the City of Hoboken and its people.”  My biggest area of concern is walking around the Northwest corner of Hoboken is the development that could happen and what is zoned to go in up there.  We need a balanced development that does continue to promote the general welfare of the city.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    TC: Vision Zero is an incredible approach to traffic safety and I am fully in support of it.  Mayor Bhalla has done a good job of bringing people together to lead Vision Zero in Hoboken.  He is pulling people from his administration and community groups.  I think community engagement is key here.

    TC: As a father of two young children in Hoboken, I understand the need for safer streets and sidewalks.  Vision Zero seeks to achieve that through multiple facets: design, enforcement, and road users taking responsibility.  The last component is the one I am probably most focused on, especially with my kids.  We need to engage the public to take more responsibility for their own safety and put some of the onus back on ourselves.  I see so many people, myself included, walking around with their heads down in their phone.  People head into a crosswalk and just assume right of way.  You can’t assume right of way that how people get hurt.  I am trying to teach that to my children every time we approach an intersection.

    TC: I think the other group of people that need to be engaged as part of Vision Zero are the taxi and for-hire drivers like Uber and Lyft.  They are providing a much-needed service to our community and they will play a key role in keeping our streets safe.

    TC: The Mayor just signed the executive order on August 28th so I think we need to give him some time to get this up and running.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    TC: As I walk around the 5th Ward and speak to residents I hear different opinions on the scooters, but it is basically love them or hate them.  On the one hand, you have a pickup point for scooters on the corner of Henderson Street and Observer Highway by the car wash. You can ride down the protected bike lane almost the entire way to the PATH Station and leave it at a drop off point.  That seems to work great.

    On the other hand, you have people doubled up on scooters speeding down the sidewalk where my kids are trying to draw with chalk.  There was the terrible event last week where a baby in a carriage was struck by a scooter and had to go to the emergency room.

    Micro-mobility solutions like e-scooters could be helpful in Hoboken, but I think we needed a better plan before they launched.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this question immediately follows the question about Vision Zero.  E-scooters need to work within the Vision Zero platform if we are going to continue to have them in Hoboken.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    TC: Good customer service must be a top priority for a person on City Council.  Representatives can’t just engage residents during elections years.  You always need to listen respectfully to all people so that all voices are heard not just the loudest ones.  I have heard so many different things that are important to the 5th Ward residents.  Obviously, you have email, social media, and cell phones, but I think meeting people the old-fashioned way, face to face, is really the best.  I’d like to start “Coffee with a Councilman” similar to “Coffee with a Cop” to give people the opportunity to meet face to face.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    TC: I’d like to take this an opportunity to talk about homelessness in Hoboken.  A small group of friends and I volunteer one Saturday a month at the Hoboken Homeless Shelter on 3rd and Bloomfield.  We purchase all the food and take over the entire kitchen to cook 120+ meals for people in need.

    TC: Look at what the American Legion is doing at Post 107.  They’ve built a new post that includes housing for six homeless veterans.  Mayor Bhalla has created a homeless taskforce in Hoboken that is securing long-term housing vouchers for homeless people.  This is good work being done in Hoboken and we need to continue that work.

    HG: What can the City be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    TC: The creation of a Special Improvement District (SID) for Hoboken is something I am watching closely.  I have seen the benefits of these districts in New York City. But I know some of our small business owners feel it is an extra tax that they cannot afford or won’t see the benefit from.  Many of the services that these types of organizations provide like street cleaning, organizing street festivals, trash collection, and streetscaping/beautification are already being done in Hoboken.  The SID could be helpful to market Hoboken businesses, but I think the objectives of the organization need to be aligned with the business owners.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    TC: One night a week you can find me playing soccer at Sinatra Park or 1600 Park in the Hoboken over-35 league. I joined a team five years ago as an individual not knowing anyone on the team.  There are three of us left from that original team.  We’ve brought in other players as people have moved away and left the team.  It’s a great group of guys that is like a big family.

    Phil Cohen

    phil cohen hoboken city council

    {Photo courtesy of Phil Cohen}

    Contact info: Email: Philiphcohen@gmail.com | Twitter | Instagram | Website

    Political party: I am a Democrat.

    HG: What do you do for work?

    PC: I am a lawyer.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    PC: I have lived in Hoboken since 1986 {33 years}.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    PC: It is unfortunate that up to now New York Waterway has refused to negotiate a fair settlement of this dispute with the City. I hope now NY Waterway will come to the table with Mayor Bhalla for an arms-length negotiation so we can agree on fair terms to acquire this key link for our world-class waterfront park, for generations to come. 

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    PC: Now is the time to change the zoning code for the Northwest end of Hoboken from an historic industrial zone to an appropriate mix of residential, commercial, and cultural venues that reflect our community’s needs today. The North end can become a major destination with locally owned businesses we can be proud of, without overburdening the area with more residential density than needed. I served 8 years on the Zoning Board, and look forward to using this experience to usher in a new era for the 5th Ward.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    PC: I welcome Mayor Bhalla’s initiative to eliminate pedestrian deaths. One thing that I would like to see in the Vision Zero Plan is a commitment to retrofit a protected bike lane {PBL} on Washington Street, as Mayor Zimmer had recommended in 2016, but was ultimately rejected by the current City Council incumbents. We’re paying the price now, with cars and trucks routinely double-parking in the Washington Street bike lane. I believe we can efficiently phase in PBLs on Washington Street in the coming years, encouraging bikers and scooters to ride OFF the sidewalks, and reducing the risk of fatal accidents when double-parkers force cyclists into traffic. 

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    PC: I support Mayor Bhalla’s decision to end the City’s contract with Ojo, because Ojo failed to deliver the high level of service and responsiveness we demand. I support using the additional revenues from the renegotiated Lime contract for HPU’s enforcing a 0 tolerance policy against underage riders or reckless riders, terminating their privileges. If these common-sense rules are enforced, the scooter pilot can survive, and work for our community. 

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in Mile Square?

    PC: I plan to be an accessible Councilman, engaging on a wide variety of platforms – social media, email, and by phone. But, nothing replaces face-to-face meetings with constituents.  I pledge to have open office hours for my 5th Ward constituents several times a year so I can directly learn what is on your mind and better serve you. 

    I have knocked on over 1,500 doors talking to neighbors in the 5th Ward. I enjoy speaking with my neighbors and have ask you to follow-up and contact me at HobokenPhil@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you. 

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    PC: As a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Board for the Rebuild By Design project, I want to see the comprehensive flood plan completed so that 85% of our City will be protected from the type of catastrophic flooding we experienced during Superstorm Sandy in 2011. With climate change threatening coastal communities like ours (yes – climate change is real!), we are fortunate to have secured a $230 million federal award to make our City more resilient. On the Council, I will help see this project through to completion and protect Hoboken for the long-term.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    First, I want to encourage shoppers to patronize Hoboken’s amazing businesses during the holiday season. I would like to see the City provide up to four hours of free parking in designated commercial districts on December weekends. Second, I would like to expand our free HOP bus service’s hours and add additional routes, so residents can have easy access to our businesses. And third, as a City Council, we should be recognizing one business a month at a City Council meeting for outstanding service to our community, and profile that business on Hoboken’s social media platforms.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    PC: I come from a family committed to public service. My mom, Ellie Cohen, was a Councilwoman for 12 years in my hometown of Livingston, NJ. My wife, Rebecca, works as an in-house counsel for a social services agency in the South Bronx; and our two wonderful daughters — both born and raised here in Hoboken — are Madeline (23) who works at a nonprofit focused on international development and Anna (19) — who is majoring in Political Science at the University of Vermont.

    Sixth Ward: Incumbent Council President Jennifer Giattino, Challenger Cristin Cricco-Powell, and Challenger Candidate Frank Rosner

    hoboken sixth ward

    {Photo credit: Hudson County Board of Elections}

    And lastly, in the Sixth Ward of Hoboken election, we have Council President Jennifer Giattino, Cristin Cricco-Powell, and Frank Rosner running.

    Council President Jennifer Giattino

    jen city council

    Contact info: Email: JenGiattino6@gmail.com | Phone: 201-780-6779 {mobile} | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    JG: I serve as a Councilwoman full time and work part-time as a local real estate agent.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    JG: [For] 21 years.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    JG: I’m proud to be one of the leading members of the City Council who has continuously advocated for Hoboken to acquire Union Dry Dock. This is a cause I have supported since first being elected in 2011. Our waterfront should be accessible to everyone, which is why the City Council voted 9-0 to give the Mayor the tool of eminent domain to purchase UDD if all other negotiations fall through with NY Waterway.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    JG: As a concerned parent of three teenage boys, I’d like to see vape stores prohibited in Hoboken. We already know smoking poses serious medical risks, but still don’t fully know the direct effects vaping can have on an individual’s health. It’s alarming that companies have begun marketing vape products to appeal to young people and I have already discussed this plan with the Zoning Subcommittee with hopes a Council vote can be held soon.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    JG: We have seen increased safety issues over the past several years due to a growing population and more modes of transportation being introduced to our streets and sidewalks. The City has already hired a consultant to implement this plan to make our streets safer. I’m excited to have the discussion with Hoboken residents about what we can do to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries and look forward to the successful implementation of Vision Zero.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    JG: I was the only no vote on the pilot scooter program because I had serious concerns about the lack of an enforcement plan. I would like to see us temporarily suspend the program in Hoboken until we are able to address rider safety and enforcement. With winter fast approaching, we have the perfect opportunity to discuss what we can do to have a responsible public eScooter program and decide who to best move forward.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    JG: The same way I have for the past eight years: listen to them, hear their opinions and ideas and adjust my opinion when appropriate to better serve my neighbors.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    JG: Through the Familiar Faces program sponsored by CarePoint Health, I worked really hard to find a home for one homeless woman. As a City, we can and should be doing more. There are too many folks within our community who need help and we need to find solutions to help them get back on their feet. I’d like to see us develop a comprehensive plan to house homeless men and women and help improve their quality of life.

    HG: What can the City be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    JG: We should have a central location for businesses to go to for help and advice. With our new Special Improvement District forming, I believe we are on track to bring a hub like this to Hoboken.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    JG: I have had many careers in my life. I learned discipline as a ballet dancer and fiscal responsibility and leadership skills while working on Wall Street. Growing up, my father, a first-generation American, taught me that anything is possible when you put your best foot forward and my mother, a social worker, proved every day that compassion and understanding go a long way.

    Cristin Cricco-Powell

    city council

    {Photo courtesy of Cristin Cricco-Powell}

    Contact info: Phone: 917-749-8646 | Facebook | Twitter | Website

    Political party: I’ve been a Democrat for as long as I’ve been a voter.

    HG: What do you do for work?

    CCP: I’m an Executive Producer of TV shows and documentaries. It’s a fun mix of creative and logistics.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    CCP: I’m like a unicorn – I’m a Hoboken native. My Dad’s family has been here since 1897, and I grew up here. I spent over a decade across the river in downtown NYC, but I always knew I’d come back to Hoboken to settle down, and I’m really proud to be raising a 5th generation of Criccos in my hometown.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    CCP: I support the use of eminent domain. I grew up here and watched residents fight for over 30 years to transform our industrial waterfront to a public green space. The vast majority of Hoboken residents- new and old- don’t want a refueling station at that site. New York Waterway has lied repeatedly about their situation, and when the city offered an ideal alternate location for the refueling station (down by the PATH), they turned it down. I suspect that their end game is to wait and push for zoning changes so that they can build luxury housing there, which is what they did in Weehawken. The city currently has the funding to purchase the site for up to $15 million, and I’ve spoken to the Mayor’s office about ways we can fund the buildout without raising taxes.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    CCP: I’d like us to use zoning and land-use restrictions to put more thought into what retail we allow on Washington Street. We should have fewer chain stores and more locally-owned businesses. I also want to start a pop-up shop program to help small business owners test their viability with short-term leases while filling empty storefronts. I feel like we’ll be better able to support existing small businesses and make Hoboken a more diverse, dynamic, and cooler retail destination by putting some thought into the process.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    CCP: I look at the success of the first Vision Zero project in Sweden and I feel like this holistic approach to traffic and pedestrian safety is the best way forward. I walk everywhere in Hoboken, and I have a 9 year old and a 5 year old who I hope can walk to school by themselves in a few years. I love the curb extensions at the corners, because they make it much easier for strollers and children to be seen by drivers. We need protected bike lanes, because cyclists and scooter riders currently have to ride around double-parked cars, which is dangerous for everyone.

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    CCP: I’m personally not a huge fan of scooters, because I’m a mom and it makes me twitchy to see people ride them without helmets. That said, my younger brothers love using them to commute to the PATH from uptown, and I support initiatives that work to put fewer cars on our streets. I think that we need better enforcement of the rules as well as protected bike lanes, which would keep scooters off the sidewalks. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on the scooters. I really wish that the residents of Hoboken had been able to vote on the issue in November, but the city council blocked a non-binding referendum on the issue.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    CCP: Aside from the usual – emails, social media, etc – I want to hold regular ward meetings as well as biannual 6th Ward social events. I want my neighbors to get to know me, to get to know each other, and to feel like stakeholders in our city. I saw firsthand how community buy-in helped our district schools. I have two kids in public school, and campaigning for reform school board members is how I first got involved in Hoboken politics. I’d love to encourage the same level of enthusiasm and participation in city government. We all live in the same city, we should all have a voice.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    CCP: I feel like we’ve come a long way since my childhood in terms of safety, honest government, and quality of life. I’d like to focus on protecting the great small-town community vibe we have by curbing rampant overdevelopment, helping our small businesses thrive, and keeping our socioeconomic diversity through more affordable housing.

    HG: What can the city be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    CCP: When I was a kid, “The Avenue” was filled with independent, locally-owned businesses, so the amount of empty storefronts on Washington really bothers me. I want to think bigger. I want to develop programs that help with everything from niche marketing to grants and loans for small business owners. I want to make it easier for businesses to open by having a Small Business Liaison within City Hall to guide small business owners through the permitting process. I want to fill empty storefronts fast by using a pop-up store program, and I want to limit the number and type of chain stores permitted in Hoboken.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    CCP: One unique thing about me is that I belong to many different communities in Hoboken- including communities that have been at odds with each other in the past. I’m a native Hobokenite, I’m a professional, a mom, and a public school parent. Being a part of all of these groups gives me a great perspective on what we all have in common, how to bring us all closer together, and how to best serve every one of us.

    Frank Rosner

    frank rosner hoboken city candidate

    {Photo courtesy of Frank Rosner}

    Contact info: Phone: 201-988-5321 {mobile} and 201-792-5288 {office} |  Email: fmroz@optonline.net  | Facebook | Instagram

    Political party: Democrat

    HG: What do you do for work?

    FR: I am employed as an Account Executive with Brinks Global Services arranging Logistics Solutions for High Value Diamond and Jewelry Shipments on a global scale.

    HG: How long have you lived in Hoboken?

    FR: [I] 40 years.

    HG: How do you feel about Mayor Bhalla’s movements to acquire Union Dry Dock under eminent domain with the intention of turning it into a public park?

    FR: I am 100% in support of the Mayor’s and the councils most recent unanimous decision to advance eminent domain for the Union Dry Dock property and begin good faith negotiations with New York Waterway for the purchase of the property at fair market rates. Whether we need to have another park at this site is another thing, as I believe money would be better spent to upgrade all our existing parks and explore any opportunities for a location of a community swimming pool.

    HG: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and what is your thought process behind the change?

    FR: Restrict High Density Development. While the Lipton Tea Building was an existing edifice which could not readily be altered, the conversion process to its’ current state was acceptable. Remaining development from 14th Street to 11Th Street and from the 14th Street Viaduct to the Riverfront is, in my opinion, so dense that it seems as if it were a city on its’ own, quite separate from the rest of the city and Hoboken is only a square mile.

    HG: What are your thoughts on the Vision Zero Project? What do you think the project does well and what do you think it could do better?

    FR: You can run as many studies as one wishes and conceive as many programs to attain the goals for the Vison Zero Project, but the fundamental bottom line is that enforcing existing traffic laws would go a long way to achieving the project goals. I was very much against the Observer Highway initiative, as I warned about major traffic congestion during rush hour This roadway is one of the main egress and access roadways to Hoboken and Jersey City, Routes 1 & 9 and the Holland Tunnel. In Addition, the Bike Lane and Pedestrian walkway did not have to be made as wide as the Autobahn. I was also not keen on what transpired on Washington Avenue. Let me be clear, I am not against Bike Lanes, but they should have been placed on the inside, next to the curb and have cars park along the Bike Lane. That would be a naturally protected Bike Lane. And of course, No Parking at the Bus Stop cuts and loading zone designations during hours indicated. As far as the street corner bump-outs are concerned, it’s fine, with timed traffic lights so that traffic can move, albeit at a safe speed. I agree with changing the speed limit to 20 mph to certain times of the day, but the traffic lights, once again, must be better calibrated to keep traffic and pedestrian flow moving. I would also like to see new streetlights across the entire city so drivers can SEE!

    HG: Are you for or against keeping the scooter pilot in Hoboken?

    FR: I am for any mobility efforts for Hoboken, but if the laws are not obeyed Scrap the scooter program. Current use of the scooters is haphazard at best!

    We need to better understand and anticipate any consequences of programs put forth by the city.

    HG: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the Mile Square?

    FR: The ward council persons need to listen more to their constituents and take action on their behalf. They are our employers during our service on the council and they can hire us or fire us on election and we must realize that while the elected council represents their ward residents when they vote, they are voting on actions that affect the entire city.

    HG: What would you most like to see improve in Hoboken?

    FR: It is always about quality of life. Take care of the essential issues. Schools, Business, Taxes, Development, Infrastructure, Parks and Cleaner Streets for the those who have chosen stay and raise their families in this beautiful big little city called Hoboken. Paying attention to these items is Paramount and the rest becomes far more addressable in a timely and efficient manner.

    I came to this city in 1979 and rented with a roommate on Park Avenue between 2nd & 3rd Streets. I met my wife to be in 1979 and we planted stakes here in 1988 when we purchased a condo on Willow Avenue. We have been together for forty years and raised two beautiful daughters in this glorious URBAN environment.

    HG: What can the City be doing for local business owners that it isn’t already?

    FR: There are far too many shuttered business’s along Washington Street and across the city. We need to decide if we want unfettered capitalism or sustained growth. The current special business district plans the council has been examining and implementing, would go a long way to help aid small business. I wish to be part of that deliberation as the 6th Ward Council person and provide a legacy to benefit all Hoboken residents and new business.

    HG: Tell us something unique about yourself.

    FR: I was born in Budapest Hungary, May 19, 1956, just six months prior to the Hungarian Revolution, when the Russian tanks rolled in. We managed to escape and immigrated to Israel, where I spent my first six years. We arrived on Blessed American soil in 1962 and lived in the Bronx with my Mother’s sister for a few months. We moved to North Bergen later that year. I attended North Bergen High School and attended St. Peter’s College, now St. Peter’s University and graduated in 1978. My parents bought a house in Union City in 1971.

    While I am not, as you can surmise, Born & Bred, I have Hudson County and Hoboken in particular in my blood. I am a co-founder of the Elysian Charter School located at 14Th street and have served two terms on its’ board. I have coached my daughters in Hoboken girls Softball and have always been involved in town and now I wish to serve in a more outward fashion. I have every intention of uniting all the different factions in this town to help all of its residents move forward. I have always been positive about this town and even more positive about its’ future.

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    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.