Home Events + News The 2023 Hoboken City Council Candidates Answer Your Questions

The 2023 Hoboken City Council Candidates Answer Your Questions

by Stephanie Spear
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Fall means election season throughout the country and Hoboken’s city council race is no exception. On November 7th, Hoboken voters will cast their ballots for six of the nine seats that make up the Hoboken City Council. The Hoboken Girl polled all 13 candidates using questions solicited from readers. Read on to learn more about the election and about each candidate.

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About the City Council

The Hoboken City Council is the law-making body of the City of Hoboken. It is made up of three At-Large members elected to represent the entire City and six members elected to represent each of the City’s six wards. The Council monitors the operation and performance of city agencies, makes land use decisions, and has sole responsibility for approving the city’s budget. It also legislates on a wide range of other subjects.

All six incumbents’ terms will expire on December 31st, 2023. The term of the incumbents in the three at-large positions will expire on December 31st, 2025. The City Council meetings are on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, except for July and August when there is only one meeting per month.

To see what ward you live in, check out HG’s article here. Find your voting location here. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the correct ward, or district, or are not registered to vote, contact the Hudson County Clerk’s Board of Elections.

About the Candidates

The Hoboken Girl reached out to all 13 candidates to get their thoughts on current topics in Hoboken. The questions were solicited from readers via the The Hoboken Girl Insiders Facebook Group. All 13 candidates were asked the same questions. The candidates are listed alphabetically and the answers have been lightly edited for punctuation only.

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Phil Cohen

phil cohen

Incumbent, 5th Ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

We need to be sensitive to noise complaints when they arise and to be considerate to neighbors and work to address such concerns when they are presented. I heard many such complaints during the construction phases of the Northwest Resiliency Park, and we tried to work with neighbors to address those concerns in real-time.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I admire Raj Mukherji, our State Assemblyman. Raj is incredibly hard-working, responsive, and thoughtful when dealing with the many issues confronting Hudson County.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I served as a Zoning Board Commissioner for 8 years before I was elected to the Hoboken City Council. I have also served as a Commissioner on the Hoboken Planning Board. In these roles, I often had to consider the impacts of development and future planning for our community.

Also, since 2017 I have served as a member of the Citizens Advisory Board for Rebuild by Design, on which I have worked on and planned for our long-term resiliency needs.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

I am looking forward to continuing work on completing our Rebuild by Design plans. It is critical for the long-term resiliency of our community and is currently scheduled to be completed by 2025. Related to this is the Madison Street infrastructure project also scheduled to be completed by 2025 which will eliminate the persistent flooding that has plagued the neighborhood by Shop-Rite for many, many years.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

I think the City can and should do more to address rat abatement. That is why I acted this summer to support the containerization of our garbage cans which started in August. New York City will not require containerization of garbage until March of 2024!

I also supported, and the Council introduced a new ordinance requiring outdoor dining establishments to be thoroughly cleaned above and under dining surfaces and to have proof of regular exterminator inspections, and even have a plan for altering their dining establishments if it is possible for the establishments to be harboring any rodents. Failure of the establishments to comply with this ordinance subjects the restaurants to fines of up to $2,000 or loss of their outdoor dining license.

6. Many residents and would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I have worked hard to strengthen our rent control ordinance and helped a number of buildings in the 5th Ward actually successfully become subject to rent control limits. Examples include over 250 units now subject to rent control at The Rivington. I have also worked with residents at The Ballpark, The Artisan buildings, The Jordan, and The Harlow to fight back against illegal rent hikes.

Finally, I am proud to have supported the first ever fully-affordable senior housing project that should break ground next year in the 5th Ward at 11th and Willow — currently the site of an above-ground parking lot. This project will have 36 units of fully affordable senior housing.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

I would complete the efforts for Rebuild by Design and also complete the ongoing efforts to address flooding on the Madison Street infrastructure project.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

Thank you to the voters of the 5th Ward for giving me the opportunity to represent you these past 4 years. I look forward to continuing to work together to put the 5th Ward First!

Read More: Hoboken’s Mayor Bhalla Shares Details of Death Threats He Received; Stalking Law Updates

hoboken council candidate rafi cordova

Rafi Córdova

1.Rafi Córdova, Hoboken First Ward, Democrat

2. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

Construction can be good, particularly if it results in new and improved businesses, stores, and retail shops that add to the quality of life in Hoboken. However, it can be extremely disruptive to residents, especially those who work from home. I believe we must revisit Hoboken’s noise ordinance and add/enforce regulations that require developers and construction crews to have noise mitigation in place on their projects. I also think it’s important for the City Council to carefully consider any waivers that come up to allow weekend and/or after hours construction which sometimes get passed without much discussion or thought. Last but not least, I support much more stringent penalties for construction companies that begin work before hours in violation of our rules and regulations, including a suspension of companies that are repeat offenders.

3.Who is another local government official you respect and admire?

While it’s hard to pinpoint just one person, I am thankful for all the citizens who serve on volunteer boards and commissions, giving back to Hoboken without being in the limelight. They don’t always get the recognition they deserve and have to sit through hours upon hours of crucial meetings on a monthly basis. I particularly admire the members of the Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board which I chair, people who are working diligently to ensure housing fairness in Hoboken.

4.What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward and advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I have been a resident of Hoboken since 1995 and have been involved in serving the community from the moment I moved here. For example, I have been a longtime supporter, volunteer, and outreach coordinator for The Symposia Bookstore community building project, I have volunteered for over twenty years with In Jesus Name Charities, an interfaith charitable effort in Hoboken serving the most vulnerable in our community with food emergencies and other essential needs, and have served our city’s seniors and our unhoused community, helping with physical, emotional, financial, medical, legal, and technical needs as they arise. I have advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and for affordable housing.

In 2022, I was appointed to the Hoboken Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board of which I am currently the chair. Through my volunteer work on the board, I have gained detailed knowledge of our rent control laws and of their strengths and weaknesses. While I am honored to serve on this board to uphold Hoboken’s laws as they exist now, this work has also helped me see how much more I could accomplish for our residents as a Hoboken City Council member.

5.What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

While there are a number of initiatives that I look forward to working on if elected, the topic of affordability and housing justice is one of my top priorities, ensuring fairness for landlords and renters alike. Here are some of my concrete proposals to help address this issue, my complete platform can be found at Housing Justice In Depth — Rafi 4 Hoboken City Council Ward 1

  • Exempting mom & pop landlords from unfair taxation: When elected I will propose an ordinance to exempt multi-family rent controlled properties that are not corporate owned and which have never benefitted from the 30-year state exemption from rent-control from the Business Alliance tax levy.
  • Support and strengthen rent control laws and regulations: improve and clarify the way rent calculations are created, amended the ordinance to control and cap surcharges in a way that enables landlords to collect their due without overburdening tenants
  • Create “Right to Counsel” legislation similar to NYC that we can adopt for new developments, requiring developers to allocate a percentage of funding for free legal counsel for tenants pertaining to violations of rent control laws and unfair evictions
  • Support regulations requiring a higher percentage of mandatory set-asides of affordable units for new developments, as well as funding a fuller staff for the division of housing to administer affordable housing programs.
  • Creating new, senior-only housing in Hoboken: in new redevelopment projects, initiating a policy through the City Council of setting aside a mandatory certain percentage of affordable housing for seniors
  • Create legislation to establish a Community Land Trust, a mechanism for extending affordable home ownership to a community, typically at below market rates

6.Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

Containerized garbage cans was a good start, but it’s abundantly clear that much more needs to be done. I have spent several months listening to neighbors, seeking advice from experts, and researching the issue in detail. Below are my detailed priorities to address this issue, with additional details and plans for implementation viewable on my website: What I Stand For — Rafi 4 Hoboken City Council Ward 1

  • Create a new position for a rat czar leading a task force of sanitation, health, zoning, and construction experts: The holder of this office would be responsible for leading a task force combining workers from sanitation, health, zoning, and construction to walk the streets of Hoboken and issue violations for issues like mismanaged waste, weed overgrowth, incorrectly baited construction sites, infested parklets, etc.
  • Increase composting city-wide: Reducing food waste in garbage collection will reduce food sources for rats. By adding funding in the City budget (and supplementary funds from the Hoboken Business Alliance) which can be offset through an increase in fines for negligent property owners, the City can expand the composting contract to provide free composting for businesses and residents.
  • Hire an additional garbage hauling contractor through the Hoboken Business Alliance: The Hoboken Business Alliance should make it a priority to supplement garbage nights through either a private garbage hauler or the existing garbage hauler utilized by the city to minimize the amount of trash on city streets.
  • Add additional day of city-funded garbage or recycling pick-up through new contract
  • Responsible outdoor dining: The outdoor dining options via parklets have been a big boon to businesses and are popular with many. However, given that it was a need during the pandemic, we should phase out the options for parklets and instead offer streateries as an alternative.
  • Expand camera services to combat against illegal dumping, which is contributing to higher levels of unregulated garbage on streets
  • Hold negligent property owners accountable with increased fines, mandatory court appearances, and a published list of property owners who do not comply with multiple city summonses or violations.
  • Employ R.A.T.S. dog services: Various condo associations have already hired the R.A.T.S. dog service to literally hunt and kill rats. This strategy should be utilized in hot spots throughout the city.
  • Purchase SMART electronic rat traps so we can collect precise data on the distribution of rat hot spots throughout the city and target those areas with multiple extermination efforts.

7.Many residents and would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion and do you have plans to fix it?

As Chair of the Rent Leveling and Stabilization Board, I see firsthand how massive unconscionable rental increases are forcing/displacing residents from their homes. This is unfortunately becoming an all-too-common experience, and it is heartbreaking to keep on witnessing these stories. I am the only candidate running for City Council with an aggressive plan to combat these unconscionable increases.

More concretely, I propose to clearly define legal and illegal rent increases through legislation similar to that which was adopted recently by the city of Newark. The legislation I will introduce the first year I am in office will cap all rental increases in non-rent controlled buildings at 7.5% per year, codifying an interpretation of “unconscionable” as any rent increase above 7.5%. While this is above Newark’s 5% rate, it is an amount which measures the stability needs of tenants with the increasing costs faced by landlords. I also intend to promote the inclusion of this same 7.5% cap for residential rentals in any redevelopment agreement. I believe that such caps will create greater predictability and a stronger sense of community with less transience.

8.Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known and the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, and other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

I propose to add a fourth flood pump by the Hoboken Housing Authority, as recommended by Rebuild by Design. A fourth pump would complement the existing three in the north and south ends of the City and by the Hoboken Path Station. This new pump will allow several million gallons of water to be pumped out at a much faster rate than is currently possible. Additionally, the sewer system is being upgraded and replaced around the Northwest Park. I believe the same upgrades should take place in Southern Hoboken as well. I will help ensure future redevelopment projects include flood mitigation, such as the potential Neumann Leathers project and CVS redevelopment project, all must have adequate flood retention and mitigation to capture rainwater during heavy storms.

9.Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

 My top priorities are to be accessible to residents, to respond to quality of life issues, and to ensure our most vulnerable are cared for and respected. Simply, putting people first. I can be reached via my website at Rafi 4 Hoboken City Council Ward 1 and welcome questions and feedback.

Marla Decker

marla decker

2nd Ward Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

A city like Hoboken is always going to have construction — it’s part of the never-ending evolution of a city as new becomes old and the population cycles in and out. But I think we can better manage its interruption in our day-to-day lives with better management of street closures, reasonable restrictions on extended parking permits for construction projects, and enforcement of permissible hours for construction activity.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I greatly admire Councilperson Emily Jabbour. Besides being an unwavering leader of our local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, she has been a dedicated councilperson for the last 6 years. She cares deeply about our community and puts Hoboken first. On a typical day, you’ll find Emily attending a city, cultural, or political event, promoting a local event or business, and simply being the go-to person to tag on social media to solve any problem that arises in Hoboken. She never disappoints. She’s also a great mom and has a private career in government service.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I have a long history of volunteerism and community leadership. For over ten years, I served on the Board of Directors for the Hudson Tea Condo Association, which covers three buildings in the 2nd ward and over 500 units. I became the President during the difficult period of the pandemic and saw our community through a number of difficult transitions. I have also been a leader in the democratic party of Hoboken, a volunteer for Moms Demand Guns Sense, and last year, I organized a successful city-wide fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees. I have been advocating since I was fourteen years old and spoke at my town’s planning board meeting to support a local business, I then became a professional advocate — I have been an attorney since 2007. Being an effective advocate for the 2nd ward is one of my highest priorities.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

I am looking forward to working with everyone to build out the public spaces in our ward with the input of our community. We have the upcoming Rebuild by Design project and we need a constructive voice from the 2nd ward who will have a seat at the table with the state agencies overseeing the project. We also have the exciting opportunity to advance the planning and building of Maritime Park at the former Union Dry Dock Site. Finally, I want to initiate the analysis and planning for the now-acquired Monarch site (east end of 15th Street) from a dilapidated eye sore to a serene public space.

I’m also looking to be a responsive resource for residents for information and help navigating the city’s services. I’m proud to already be doing that as a candidate, and I will continue as a councilperson.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

I fault the Mayor’s office and our current city council (including the incumbent I am running against) for failing to take a more proactive approach to the rat issue: the ordinance to address these issues (much of it common sense) came too far into the problem, garbage storage is not being sufficiently planned for new construction or new food service establishments; city property like the area adjacent to Hoboken Cove is not being maintained/abated properly; enforcement against property owners failing to address their own infestations is lacking; and best practices for rat abatement are not being adequately communicated across the city. Going forward we need a designated city employee who is tasked with managing the rats (and other nuisances) in Hoboken to create an effective public/private partnership of prevention and mitigation. My full platform on the rat issue can be found here (https://ymlp.com/zKLeAT).

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I’ve heard many in my ward complain about rising housing prices, and it concerns me. It’s important to me that we maintain the character of Hoboken and its diversity by having housing available at all price points. I support recent efforts by the city to crack down on unconscionable rent increases, and I support rent control. I believe it is an important tool to keep our community accessible to everyone. I believe the current iteration of the rent control ordinance that caps rent increases at 5% or at the CPI (whichever is lower) is a step in the right direction and I was disappointed that Councilwoman Fisher voted against it. I do think more investments need to be made in the Division of Housing Office to ensure that enforcement of the current ordinances is taking place. We also need to plan carefully when we develop the Northwest portion of the city to offer housing across all price points.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

In addition to the ongoing mitigation efforts, which I support, we must prioritize resiliency to weather and storms in every new development and project. We should also explore projects that would make our sewers – which are locked into an outdated design for today’s Hoboken and contribute to the flooding problems — more resilient. I would like to explore innovative solutions that can attract project funding at the state or federal level for green infrastructure.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

I hope to earn the vote of my Second Ward neighbors. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many of you and hearing your concerns. If we have not met and want to discuss topics of importance to you, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Tiffanie Fisher

tiffanie fischer hoboken city council

Incumbent, 2nd ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

The city needs to do a better job of considering residents’ quality of life concerning construction. Right now all of the decisions and actions favor the construction project at the expense of residents’ quality of life. We can absolutely do better with more monitoring and enforcement, limiting the use of temporary no parking signs as cheap, on-street parking for contractors – especially on the residential side of the street. And my favorite – a simple, commonsense step and one I have tried to get changed legislatively several times with a lot of pushback from the administration – we need to have “Road Closed Ahead” signs placed one block ahead of the block that is closed for construction to give drivers two choices of the direction they can turn in our one-way street grid, instead of one.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I think all of Hoboken’s elected officials have some characteristics that can be admired. Overall though I think CW Giattino is who I admire most. Her style of representing her constituents and the best interests of Hoboken and fighting for reform and good governance are what I appreciate the most. We have been joking lately that she is the G.O.A.T. of the City Council, but it really isn’t a joke. She has made me a better City Council representative.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

My journey as my neighborhood’s advocate began years before I was first elected in 2015. My “get off the couch” moment was in 2011 when I led our community’s successful fight against the proposed Monarch waterfront development, now a beautiful walkway and future park and nature reserve. In 2014, as board president at the Hudson Tea buildings, I worked with my 15th Street neighbors to secure a much-needed stop sign at 15th + Bloomfield. That same year I was first appointed to the Hoboken Zoning Board. In 2015, I brought 10-15 neighbors to planning board meetings for both 1450 Washington and 1400 Hudson where we successfully advocated for more loading zones and dog relief stations to support the growing population on 15th Street. All of this — Monarch, waterfront, pedestrian safety, and zoning issues — became my path to public service and are still foundational issues for me as I run for my third term.

Accomplishments since I was first elected leading into this election … the list is long. Working closely with the administration and the county we have actually gotten more done in the 2nd Ward than any other including protecting our uptown waterfront, pedestrian safety improvements across the ward, extending the bike lane along the uptown waterfront, 26 additional street parking spaces, removing the boat graveyard in Weehawken Cove, building the Monarch Walkway and planning the amazing soon to be built 2.5 acre Cove Park.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

We have a lot of tough quality-of-life issues that haven’t yet been adequately addressed of which I am ready to keep working on — like combating rats, addressing parking, and helping our homeless neighbors. But overall the most challenging issue we have relates to decisions we make about our use of public space in a city where space is scarce and potential residential development profits are high. IMHO, the administration has taken a headline-driven, special interest, patchwork quilt approach to land use, and as a result, we have had real issues that remain unaddressed like overcrowding issues in our schools, lack of recreation space for a changing population filled with more teens and seniors, and a growing labor/housing mismatch and affordability issues due to lack of affordable housing. A real example…In March or April of 2022, just a couple of months after the failed high school referendum that would have addressed our overcrowding in our district schools, I was in a meeting with BOE leadership who asked about the administration’s just announced $300 million project that seemed to come out of nowhere, literally a month after the referendum vote. The idea was for a new municipal complex in NW Hoboken on land to be taken by eminent domain and filled with municipal departments including public safety, city council, our courts, and an uptown library — notably, a project that did not have enough City Council support to move forward. Apparently, the BOE was not contacted by the administration about this project as a possible way to help meet the BOE’s facility needs which is on the cusp of being a crisis. We can do better.

So the biggest issue I look forward to working on is changing direction to focus on the needs of our community as a whole and figure out a way to accommodate those needs. We need to (a) step back and look at all of the city’s remaining space that falls under the city’s control and decide how it should be allocated and (b) include in this analysis what we need developers to build for us as part of their large developments. Before it is too late.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

I do not think the city has done enough, but now in response to public pressure, has finally started to take important steps to eliminate food sources. What is lacking — first, the administration has to acknowledge there is a problem and take ownership of it. And with this problem, they need to outline a plan it will follow including consulting with experts, having a person fully dedicated to leading the effort for the city, and allocating sufficient financial resources to address the crisis, none of which is happening. There are a lot of people working on it, but without the mayor being fully committed to solving it, we will not be successful.

One big thing that is missing so far is a focus on hotspots city-wide. As you wrote a story about, I created a rat map based upon input from 540 residents which revealed the locations of hotspots. I have shared this with the city and spoken to the administration about taking a block-by-block approach to help solve the issue. Every location is different and has different contributing factors — the infestation on 15th Street is different than the one at 3rd and Park. We need to have a neighborhood/block-by-block approach that includes residents, elected officials, and experts to address what needs to be done in all of these locations. Additionally, the Hoboken Business Alliance needs to solicit support from local restaurants and commit to taking every measure possible in terms of extermination and eliminating potential food sources to address this crisis until it is solved.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I 100% agree. For the first time in my almost eight years on the City Council, I had many residents reach out about unconscionable rent increases in the 20+% range. We were able to work with landlords to bring these increases in a little, but still in the teens. Legally, any building that does not yet fall under rent control can increase rents at market rates, so long as a tenant is not forced to leave due to “unconscionable” increases. This term is not defined but precedent shows it is in the 15-20% range and that seems to be where many of these institutionally owned buildings are landing. I fully support rent control, was disappointed to see my colleagues put forth a law change that destabilized our rent control laws and Mayor Bhalla vetoed a compromise legislation that could have restabilized rent control. Instead, rent control may now be put on the ballot which could be disastrous for our community.

As we change from an amazing, socioeconomically diverse community to a homogeneous one, not only is this a shame from a cultural and community standpoint, but it will be difficult to sustain if we do not have a labor/housing balance – said differently, if our housing is too expensive for lower to moderate earners – including seniors on fixed incomes and long time renters – then we will struggle to fill important roles in our community ranging from teachers to public safety to service workers to volunteers who may choose to live and work elsewhere. As mentioned above – land use decisions are critical in general, but in a community like ours where we have a scarcity of land and high land prices due to the desirability of living here (we are a victim of our own success), it is our local government that needs to step in and ask “what does our community most need, not special interests, and how do we get it.

We need rent control protections and we need to build affordable housing. Regarding the latter, the rehabilitation of our Hoboken Housing Authority is by far the single most important project for our community right now and something EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET BEHIND. Not only will it improve the living standards of 1,000 Hoboken families, which cannot be understated how important this is, the project includes the addition of many new affordable and market-rate units. A rare Win Win Win.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

I 100% applaud all of the efforts this administration and the prior administration have made to address Hoboken’s flooding issues. For those newer to Hoboken, the pumps and resiliency efforts work as measured by the declining number of flood events and the less time it takes for flooding to dissipate. In the past, we had many more everyday flooding and the flood waters would stay for hours and sometimes days. If you are new and do not have this context you may not realize this. The one thing that has changed is the number of intense rain storms – where the water comes down faster than it can be absorbed – has gone up due to climate change. So we continue to chase this problem.

The one area that I think should be looked at is the cleaning schedule for our sewer systems. We should be cleaning our catch basins and sewer lines citywide more regularly than what I understand is about once every 4 years. We should work with NHSA to make this a proactive, annual effort, not a reactive one.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

As your neighbor, I believe 2nd Ward residents (and all of Hoboken) deserve a representative who listens, engages, and tirelessly works for our community. We need a transparent and informative leader who can tackle both the big and small issues that impact our lives. And a representative who isn’t just a rubber stamp but an independent voice you can rely on to ask tough questions and always prioritize Hoboken.

As your current council representative, I’ve aimed to be that advocate for you. I have a proven record of delivering tangible results by engaging with our community, hearing your concerns, and with over 300 newsletters, ensuring you’re informed about every issue that matters to you. And I firmly believe that more voices offer us the best chance for the best outcomes.

While my opponent may have the Hoboken Mayor’s endorsement, 2nd Ward residents not only deserve an independent voice to put their interests first, and not just toe the line, it is what they want. I am that voice and the qualified candidate who has the experience and commitment needed to effectively address the significant opportunities and challenges we face. I ask for support from my 2nd Ward neighbors once again. If you re-elect me, I pledge to continue being the dedicated advocate you deserve. Together, we can build a brighter future for Hoboken.

Jen Giattino

jen giattino hoboken

Incumbent, 6th Ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

The hours of construction need to be enforced. Currently, a resident has to call to complain, the City does not take a proactive approach to this issue. Temporary No Parking signs are a significant issue for residents. Enforcing that they are only used for commercial parking would free up much-needed parking on our streets.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

This is an easy one. I have learned so much from Councilwoman Fisher over the years. We have different styles and approaches to how we serve our constituency. Tiffanie is a wealth of information due to her extremely detailed approach. Leveraging her knowledge makes me a better councilwoman and the City better off overall.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

Before becoming a candidate I was deeply involved in the community. I volunteered for Mayor Zimmer, Original Kids First BOE slate, Parent Chair at Kaplan Preschool, created LOTS (Lunch on Tuesdays) a program that provided lunch to the homeless shelter, ran Art in the Park, and currently am serving my 3rd term as the 6th Ward Councilwoman.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

Making sure QOL issues are front and center, cleanliness of streets, maintaining parks, and eradicating rats. My amendment to the outdoor dining ordinance is an excellent start to this.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

The administration has not done enough. This issue was ignored and that is why we are currently in the position we are in. The City needs to hire an expert to solve this issue. The council has adopted a few ordinances that are helpful but if we are looking for a complete solution we need a full-time employee with expertise.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

Hoboken’s inclusionary zoning ordinance requires a 10% affordable housing set aside in residential developments greater than 10 units when a density variance is required. During my tenure, Hoboken has gained nearly 200 affordable units. We have over 700 affordable units that are in developments that have been approved but not yet completed. Some of these are through redevelopment plans and others through the 10% set aside.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

A comprehensive audit and review of our infrastructure. The more you speak to residents the amount of known compromised infrastructure that is causing flooding is great. The amount unknown must be significant and if fixed would have a beneficial effect on the amount of flooding Hoboken receives.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

Over the past three terms, it’s been my privilege to serve Hoboken, establishing strong relationships both across the city and, most importantly, within my ward. These connections have profoundly influenced my dedication to Hoboken and fueled my unwavering commitment to effective leadership. I am, and always have been, an independent voice, unafraid to challenge the status quo and stand up for what’s right. What I am not is a political figure.

Throughout Hoboken, I’m recognized as the go-to person when something needs to get done. Whether it’s improving our neighborhoods, advocating for residents’ rights, or strengthening community bonds, I’ve been there every step of the way.

My track record is a testament to my commitment to environmental initiatives, the enhancement of public spaces, infrastructure improvements, and the promotion of sensible development.

It’s the incredible residents of Hoboken who have made this journey worth every moment of dedication and hard work. Together, we can continue to make Hoboken the best place to call home.

 

 

Lauren Myers

6th Ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

I agree that loud construction and increased traffic are very frustrating and affect our quality of life. However, Hoboken is evolving and we want to be at the forefront of new and improved infrastructure, amenities, community parks, and recreation facilities. In order to be a leader and provide our residents with the high quality of life that we deserve, development and construction are a reality. As a councilperson, I will make sure that we are promoting reasonable and measured development that serves the interests of our residents and maintains Hoboken unique character.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I respect and admire Council President Emily Jabbour. She is a leader in Hoboken, she stands up for everyone, always answers resident calls, posts, or messages, and works hard every day to make Hoboken better. I am honored to call Emily a friend and to have her endorsement of my campaign. Emily’s support has been tremendously helpful throughout my campaign; we’ve been door-knocking together and attending block parties to meet the constituents of the 6th ward.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I have been an advocate for the residents of my Ward since moving to the 6th Ward in February 2022. I was elected to the Hoboken Democratic Committee as a representative of Ward 6, District 3, and appointed to Recording Secretary. I am also the President of my Condo Board, where I listen to the needs of my neighbors, organize holiday drives, and keep everyone updated on maintenance or other needs of our building. Before I decided to run, I worked closely with Councilperson Phil Cohen to ensure that county pavement projects in the 6th Ward did not prevent our residents from parking on the street for long periods of time. I worked with Phil to make sure that no parking signs were appropriately tailored to the duration of the project and did not exceed the allotted time frame.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

I am looking forward to working on public safety improvements in our community. We have walkers, drivers, and bikers who come through our city every day and we need to make sure that the streets are safe for all modes of transportation. I am going to make it a priority to install more stop signs in the 6th ward, which has only received 1 new stop sign in the past 4 years. Similarly, we also have to make sure that our public safety regulations are enforced, either through police or code enforcement officers, to keep Hoboken safe for everyone.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

I do not think that the City Council or the administration has done enough regarding rat abatement. They did not act fast enough. My comprehensive plan to reduce our rat population is to (1) leverage more federal money to pay for city-wide extermination. Hoboken received $26 million in the recent federal relief plan and needs to use this money to invest in rat removal; (2) Hire or promote someone who is solely focused on rat mitigation. This needs to be an experienced person’s full-time job until the rat problem is gone; and (3) We need a council person who has a good working relationship with the administration to collaborate, stay up to date, and be involved until the rat population is meaningfully reduced. I will be that person.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I am in favor of rent control and believe that rent control will help fix the high cost of housing in Hoboken. There should be a cap on how much landlords can raise rent in a given year. I also think we need to support and invest in our Division of Housing, which can serve as a resource for tenants, prospective residents, and landlords to ensure everyone is educated and complying with the rent ordinances in Hoboken. Further, we need to make sure that when we build new residential apartments in Hoboken some are set aside for affordable housing in order to better serve the residents of our community. As a councilperson, I hope to be involved in new development projects to make sure that all residents have a place to live in our city.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

We need to stay up to date with state-of-the-art technology to address flood mitigation. While the emergency floodgates are a good start and were successful in the recent rainfall in the 6th ward, we need to make sure that our technology is evolving, upgraded, and maintained accordingly. We also need to take advantage of county, state, and federal funding to help pay for our flood mitigation projects. This will allow us to draw on funds available without raising taxes. This is an issue that will need continued oversight by the City Council because climate change is happening.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

I am a lawyer and practice complex commercial litigation. I have experience working in the local, state, and federal government since a young age. I also have experience working for Democrats and Republicans and understand the importance of collaboration, negotiation, and working together to get things done. I am the person who will show up to council meetings with questions, highlighters, and post-it notes on key provisions, and actively engage with my fellow council members to better serve our community.

Leo Pellegrini

1st Ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

I think it’s important to understand the complaint whether it’s a City project or private construction. As a legislator, I would assist in providing a timeline of the ongoing projects and how to manage the disruption in that particular neighborhood. I would also help investigate if the vendors are following the hours of operations, traffic issues, and noise mitigation measures. I would work with the administration to avoid multiple street closings that create havoc during peak hours.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I have to say Michael Russo and Ruben Ramos because of their years of service in Hoboken’s political scene through many administrations.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I have advocated for residents throughout Hoboken including the 1st Ward. My experiences leading Hoboken through major crises during Super Storm Sandy and COVID-19 have shown my dedication and leadership to the residents of Hoboken. As far as the 1st Ward is concerned I led the operations for major parks projects such as Pier C, the Rehabilitation of Pier A and Walkway Project, the Subsurface Reconstruction of over 1,100 pilings preventing a collapse of Pier A, the 9/11 Memorial Project, Sinatra Cafe, first turf City owned Dog run and Sinatra Statue. This does not include the other legacy projects throughout Hoboken.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

There are potential Redevelopment projects in the 1st Ward I am looking forward to being a part of if elected. I want to ensure we have a holistic plan to guarantee that the public is fully informed about future projects. My biggest concern is in regard to the Planning Board’s recent approval of a redevelopment agreement with LCOR that includes a 20-story building with 389 units. The addition of this substantial infrastructure will severely add to congestion and traffic problems causing quality of life issues in the 1st ward.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

Unfortunately, the City did not provide the resources necessary to combat the rat abatement in the early stages which caused the problem to manifest. During my time as Director of Health and Human Services, I identified the problematic areas and provided plans on how to address this problem. My plan would be to continue baiting sewers, ensure that all city-owned rain gardens are properly baited, and create a team of inspectors that are proactively inspecting properties that are not properly maintained. I would also revisit the City’s current garbage pickup, especially in the most problematic areas as I believe this is adding to the issue. Also as a legislator, I would ensure that the city is allocating the necessary funding and resources necessary to eradicate this problem.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I agree that Hoboken’s cost of housing has increased significantly. I believe we need to review our ordinances that relate to housing in order to create equitable costs for property owners and tenants that are legally permissible.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

To address this problem I would make sure the City is properly and routinely managing these infastructures to ensure their effectiveness during storm events. The flood gates are not a mitigating factor for flooding but a deterrence for walking or driving through flood-prone areas. As witnessed during this past heavy rain storm the flood gates caused gridlock and cars eventually being stuck in flood waters. I would address this problem with a post-emergency meeting to address these issues.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

In closing, I want to emphasize my deep-rooted love for this exceptional city and unwavering commitment to preserving its unique charm. I promise to make decisions that prioritize the well-being and happiness of its residents, ensuring that this city remains a cherished and special place for generations to come. With fourteen years of comprehensive experience in public works and human services roles, I have developed a profound understanding of local government structures and the issues that impact them which has been pivotal in navigating bureaucratic processes, addressing challenges, and finding innovative solutions. My ability to identify and address critical financial needs has resulted in cost-saving measures and enhanced efficiency in resource allocation. I have honed my skills in budget allocation, Human Resources management, land usage and planning, and fostering cooperative planning within government entities. When you combine that experience with my genuine love for this city, you have a leader who not only understands the intricacies of governance but also possesses the passion to protect and enhance what makes this city so extraordinary. Together, I am confident we can achieve great things for the city we all know and love.

Paul Presinzano

Democrat, 1st Ward

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

Construction noise can be a big problem, especially for those living closest to the project. Unfortunately, the constant construction is the price we all pay residing in such an amazing city that attracts so many new people. As much as we hate the noise, the silence of no new construction would mean far worse things for our City. That said, there are supposed to be restrictions on construction times and the length and level of the noise generated. Some construction projects are also supposed to pay to offset their disruption to the community. If there is genuinely a problem with a developer violating these rules or causing a genuine disruption, then there is work I could do as a city council member to help those in need. The biggest single factor here is communication. Our representative needs to be in constant contact with the community so we can identify these problems early and work toward solutions together.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I don’t respect just one local government official. I appreciate them all. It takes a lot of personal and family sacrifice to serve the community. Agree or disagree with your elected officials. They have a challenging job. My one caveat to this is that I have no tolerance for elected officials who are corrupt or violate the law. No one is above the law.”

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

Several years ago, I started a civic organization to give back to the community. It has allowed me to see firsthand the problems and triumphs of the community. We have provided our scholarships to local students in their pursuit of college. We have given meals and supplies to seniors in their moments of need. We even handed out water supply bags during the water main break earlier this year to make sure everyone had what they needed to soldier through the crisis. When you are in the trenches, you know the time and effort it takes to help fix problems and address needs. It is a labor of love for me. I want to give back to Hoboken, which has given me so much. I also regularly attend the City Council meetings and make my voice, and those of my neighbors, heard on issues that impact us. That is a crucial step in making change happen.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

A refrain I continue to hear from my fellow 1st Ward residents is that our Quality of Life issues have been ignored. This sounds simple, but the government must work when you step out your front door. The City seems to have ignored the simple, everyday issues we all rely on in favor of pursuing national headlines. We need to get back to the issues that matter to the people of Hoboken: rats, clean streets, safe sidewalks, and reliable infrastructure. That’s the Hoboken people deserve.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

Our administration has failed the community. Solely focusing on headlines and national issues has left the residents with a complicated problem to solve. Admitting the problem is the first step toward fixing it, and unfortunately, the City waited months to admit how bad the situation actually is. The administration’s own team has come out in debates, admitting they have failed us. I put out my comprehensive plan in July, and by teaming up with my fellow residents, we successfully advocated for the successful adoption of many of the points in the proposal including upgraded trash cans and some restrictions on outdoor restaurant dining. Several more points need to be addressed, like a public awareness campaign and incentive program for residents and partnering with experts to take a block-by-block approach to eradication. You can see my whole plan here: http://www.presinzano4hoboken.com/pauls-rat-plan.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

Housing in Hoboken is prohibitively expensive for many. Incomes need to catch up with the cost of housing and rising inflation, forcing too many families to decide between paying rent or buying food. I want this to be noticed in the rhetoric here, this is a tragedy! In an ideal world, everyone would make more money, and the cost of housing would be less of an issue, but that’s not the world we live in now. And so, at its heart, we are faced with a supply and demand problem, and there is only so much housing supply in Hoboken. Our first step is to expand the amount of affordable housing in Hoboken. I would work with our state and federal partners to increase the number of public housing units allowed here. I would also work to hold developers more accountable to their commitments when building new housing in Hoboken. We recently had a project completed, and no one held the developer to their affordable housing commitment until it was too late! Affordable units that should have been made available to the public – gone. All because no one was manning the store. We also need to protect the units we have under rent control, and this has been one of the biggest mistakes our current administration has made, which could ultimately cause Hoboken to lose our rent control forever! They botched the compromise reached by tenant groups and landlords and ultimately chose to kick the can down the road rather than do anything. And, because the administration has failed to address an issue both sides see as urgent, the landlords are going to try to put out a referendum ending rent control, and they could very well succeed. And so, I will work hard with anyone willing to partner with me to fight to keep rent control in Hoboken so we don’t lose this vital component that keeps Hoboken affordable for so many families.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

Imagine a storm with 6 inches of rain for the next 4 hours before rush hour. You wake up, shower, brush your teeth, make breakfast, and then do the dishes. Instead of putting 20 gallons of “gray” water into the sewers, what if it can be delayed and reclaimed? There are gray water machines that will filter the water and can hold the water from being released into the sewer. This water will then be used for the toilets or watering a rain garden on your roof. Helping keep water out of the sewer system and helping take water off the streets. I would look to see that a gray water system becomes a part of all new construction in the City to address the flooding issue and make Hoboken more sustainable.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

Let’s imagine a City free of e-delivery bikes on the sidewalks, rats disappearing, no more cars running stop signs, garbage cans not overflowing, our streets can handle any rain storms, and your tax dollars spent more wisely. If you want someone working tirelessly to fix these problems, please vote 1E Paul Presinzano. We can make Hoboken better by working together.

Ruben J Ramos Jr.

Incumbent, Ward 4 Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

We can do a better job of warning residents as to when construction is taking place and the duration of time in which construction is taking place.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I admire Councilwoman Fisher because of her work ethic, she’s fearless and fights hard on behalf of her residents.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I was first elected in 1999 and from a young age was involved with issues in the neighborhood and began volunteering at the Boys Club and working in local after-school programs. Was elected to NJ General Assembly and after 6 years in Assembly unsuccessfully ran for Mayor. Ran for 4th Ward City Council and was successful. My life is defined by public service from being a Paterson school teacher to doing whatever I can to help my neighbors.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

I am looking forward to finalizing the multi-service center project and the rehabilitation of the HHA because of the number of lives that project will have a positive impact on.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

While the city has taken steps to address the issue more can still be done. We need to “Ghostbuster” this problem on a constant basis with a contractor that is going to aggressively address the issue on a constant basis. We also need to collect garbage around the city on a more frequent basis, far too often our garbage containers are overflowing. Around 2012 (I was not on Council)a decision was made to no longer collect garbage on Tuesday nights, with the size of our newer buildings and our growing population that decision needs to be revisited. Overall city needs to do a better job maintaining its properties and lead by example.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

Hoboken Housing Authority Redevelopment will replace every unit for all current HHA residents, as well as include additional units for workforce housing and market rate as well. A number of our soon-to-developed projects have affordable housing set aside. We need to continue and expand those priorities in all future projects as well.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

We need to continue to invest in our infrastructure to control flooding throughout the city. The flood pumps have been the most significant improvement, in the past water would flood intersections for days, no water is removed in mere hours after a storm. With newer developments having water retention systems within that will also help alleviate the impact of rain events on the current system. HHA, Chambord, Hoboken Business Center, Western Edge and a number of smaller projects will help collectively store a few million gallons of water that currently hits our water system on contact.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

Serving on the Hoboken City Council has been a tremendous honor. Although we have taken a number of steps in the right direction we still have a ways to go and I look forward to continuing to challenge myself and my colleagues to achieve positive outcomes for our neighbors.

Ed Reep

ed reep

3rd Ward Republican, though I’m a fiscally-liberal socially-conservative Republican, and it’s a nonpartisan race. Also, I’m “socially-conservative” on account of being “socially-liberal according to the standards of 5 years ago”. So I’m Republican in that I’d have been a pretty standard Democrat on most issues in 2018, but the party left me on social issues.

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

Be more skeptical of new projects! We don’t need to always be developing every last inch of the city.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

My opponent in the election Mike Russo, is a good competent man who helps his community and is always very fair. I wish him only good things and success even if my goal is to try my hardest to win and make a difference on council per my approach.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I’ve been a local advocate on past issues and have spoken at a number of city council meetings.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

The rent crisis in new buildings where folks are getting unconscionably high rent increases in the 20%-30% range. Housing is my top issue in addition to other top issues of supporting pet parents and getting more parking.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

I think we’ve done a lot and can always do more with an all-hands-on-deck extermination effort across the city. What I don’t want is overreach and tormenting folks over wise but in some cases difficult-to-follow garbage regulations… nor the complete abolition of parklets for outdoor dining even if they don’t help the problem. Balance!

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

I want a cap on rent hikes in non-rent-controlled buildings if possible, similar to a law passed by Newark recently though less extreme. I also support rent control’s preservation and seeking compromises with landlords so the system can be sustained.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

Attempt to get additional federal or state funding if possible to have the major overhaul of infrastructure that might be required to solve the fundamental problem.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

The best outcome for Hoboken and humanity itself is the key priority, not anyone’s own personal ambition or any vendetta or other consideration. Love and peace and be friends with all. I’d rather lose but know I promoted love and peace and community than win with division or hate. End all the hate and division and self-righteousness. Be loving and forgiving! See good in all and fight to work together and stop the factions and misery.

Ian Rintel

6th Ward, Independent

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

Construction noise is limited to weekdays between 8AM and 6PM and requires permits. Permits imply the city has given permission, thus there isn’t much that can be done. Outside of these hours or construction being done without permits, a call to the non-emergency number would be the correct way to remedy the noise issue.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

I have respect for local government officials and every candidate, but there is nobody that I admire in local government: I wish there were. We need better people in local government to bring Hoboken to where it should be.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward = advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I serve all of Hoboken by providing family-friendly, engaging activities for all ages, such as bowling lanes, ping pong tables, indoor golf, pool tables, a board game area, and more. Like almost everyone in Hoboken: I badly want a community pool and unless I’m elected I’m not confident it’ll actually happen. Months ago, just prior to the summer, I tried to convince Hoboken to run Hop Shuttles to the Union City and Weehawken pools on weekends so that residents could have access to a pool this past summer: but my suggestions fell on deaf ears. I’d like to see bathrooms open and kept clean 24 hours a day to help our homeless residents and businesses who do not want to clean up after non-customers. I have opinions and ideas on every issue and a series of 25 cartoons I’ve animated that explain most of those ideas. My Youtube channel is ianforhoboken.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

A new pool of course, something similar to what Weehawken has built for their resident.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

There are more things that can be done: but the real problem is that the city was very slow to act and let the problem get completely out of control before taking any real measures. The city still hasn’t put lids on all municipal waste receptacles.

6. Many residents and would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

People really like living here. People want to move here. Hoboken is small and thus the demand for housing exceeds the supply we have, so naturally housing is expensive. I do not think there is a solution because increasing supply rapidly enough to keep up with demand would be disruptive to our infrastructure.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

Each inch of rain over the entire city is 34 million gallons of water, and just one inch of rain in a short amount of time is pretty close (depending on tides) to what our city can handle receiving before it begins to flood. If we receive more than an inch an hour, we will start to flood. The pumps we have work, but even combined they can only help pump us out after flooding in most cases. Resiliency parks are somewhat better at flood prevention, but our newest park only holds a million gallons in its storage tanks (with claims that it can hold another million in its rain gardens) – so it’s literally only a drop in the bucket.

Ultimately: it’s just a LOT of water that has nowhere to go: A tank, ten feet deep and the size of an entire city block would be very expensive to build and hold six million gallons. Permeable pavement would reduce runoff and may be cost-effective versus impermeable pavement plus additional solutions for runoff. Finally, if that swimming pool I’m going to build was really, really big…well the biggest pool in the world holds 66 million gallons of water. It’s just a lot of water!”.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

I know you’ll be getting similar promises from all candidates and from both the other candidates in my ward, but I ask that you look at my track record of getting difficult things done in Hoboken as a private citizen and consider what I can do as an elected official. The incumbent has had twelve years and Team Bhalla fourteen, it’s time for someone else to be given a chance.

Dr. Michael Russo

Incumbent, 3rd Ward, Democrat

1. Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

The complaints of construction throughout the Third Ward are understandable. This work disrupts the daily lives of all my neighbors. However, the bulk of the construction is greatly needed. Most of this work is the upgrades to our water and sewerage infrastructure.

The real concern is how we are managing these projects to allow for the least disruption to our community. We need to better schedule road closures and the timing of all the work in question. The city must ensure all work scheduled will still allow for the smooth flow of traffic through the neighborhoods. In addition, issuing of no parking signs for multiple locations on a street should not occur, unless work is happening at that specific location.

2. Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

Vanessa Falco, former Councilwoman, and the Head of the Division of Housing in the City of Hoboken. She shares my vision of housing all Hoboken residents, especially our most vulnerable ones. She is hyper-focused on achieving that goal and I’m excited to aid in that mission.

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I have been serving the residents of the Third Ward for most of my life, starting as a Scout, where I attained the rank of Eagle Scout. It continued through my years of volunteering as a coach, and teacher, and serving non-profit organizations in the City of Hoboken and beyond.

I also served Hoboken in government. Of course, as the Third Ward Councilman, but it began as a member of the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustments. My service grew as a member of the Hoboken Housing Authority, the Hoboken Hospital Authority, a founding member of the Hoboken Cannabis Review Board, a founding member of the Vision Zero task force, and a founding member of the Hoboken Insurance Commission.

Choosing a career in healthcare, as a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a health advocate for my neighbors, allowed me to continue that service in a professional manner as well.

4. What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

The rebuilding of our Hoboken Housing Authority. As a Councilman and Commissioner of the Hoboken Housing Authority, I am in a unique position to guide our property, including the Christopher Columbus Gardens location through this redevelopment. This plan is the single most important development to help address the housing crisis in the City of Hoboken. This will allow our Housing Authority residents to live in safe, clean, and modern housing, just like the rest of the residents in Hoboken. This is the gateway project to restart a housing initiative to protect and house all Hoboken residents across the socioeconomic spectrum.

5. Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population.

NO!

· Remove all Parklets over the Winter months.

· Remove all Rain Gardens on our sidewalks over the Winter months.

· Increase garbage pick-up to at least 5 days per/week.

· Reinstitute sanitation workers (historically known as “Can Men”) on our streets daily.

· Identify, use carbon dioxide treatments, and fill all rat burrows.

· Institute a multi-week comprehensive Baiting & Exterminating program, utilizing immediate means of mechanical and electrical extermination techniques. In addition, use chemical infertility strategies to prevent the problem from recurring.

This must be “an all-hands-on deck” strategy including the City of Hoboken; the County of Hudson, the Housing Authority, CarePoint Hospital, the Hoboken Board of Education, Stevens, the Hoboken Homeless Shelter, NJ Transit, private businesses, and the residents.

6. Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion, + do you have plans to fix it?

Yes, the cost of living is extremely high! As stated above, the first step to begin to fix it is the HHA Redevelopment Plan. It is the gateway to begin this historic undertaking.

In addition, we need to house our Veterans! We need to continue to support American Legion Post 107’s vision of housing homeless Veterans right here in Hoboken. I am proud to have been a part of securing additional VASH vouchers to do that. But that work can not end there. We must do more! I will advocate for the city to use a portion of the newly acquired property in the northwest corner of Hoboken (Formally Academy Bus Property) to build new Emergency Housing, housing for the Homeless, and additional Veteran Housing.

I also voted to begin the construction of a new Senior Citizen and Residents with Disabilities project in Hoboken. This is the first of its kind in decades. We need to maximize the use of our city-owned assets to build additional units for these specific populations.

And finally, we must fight to ensure residents are not gouged with massive rent increases. I will continue to fight property owners, like Avalon, who are attempting to circumvent our rent control laws and charge unconscionable rent increases.

This is just the start of my vision to house all residents in Hoboken! Follow me for more.

7. Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known, + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

One of the things I’m most proud to have accomplished in the Third Ward was bringing my vision of an open space and recreation complex to life. The park and plaza complex between 6th Street and 8th Street on Jackson Street is one of the first resiliency parks to significantly detain hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in West Hoboken during our most trying times. We need to continue these efforts. I have advocated for additional retention/detention systems using pervious surfaces like porous asphalt in our streets and porous concrete on our sidewalks. We must also explore, additional pumping systems to help to mitigate the problem. This, with the measures I have supported through the years, will help to reduce the overall amount of water on our streets, but more importantly, will help to remove that water as expeditiously as possible.

8. Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

It’s one thing to have ideas, but it’s another to achieve results. I have achieved results! I did that with my experience and my ability to bridge divides. I have delivered for the Third Ward. As my neighbors know and understand experience counts.

See More: In-Person Voting Locations in Montclair

Liz Urtecho

5th Ward, Democrat

Residents complain about how disruptive the constant construction in Hoboken is. How would you respond?

Construction can be disruptive, and to make it more tolerable I would proactively communicate to the affected residents when construction projects are scheduled in their neighborhood and let them know what to expect. Part of the construction annoyance is that residents don’t realize projects are starting, how long it will last, and who to go to with questions or issues. In addition, the City needs to ensure that contractors are abiding by the laws that regulate the hours of operation so residents are not disturbed too early in the morning or late into the evening.

Who is another local government official you respect + admire?

Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro — As a Hoboken resident, she is a role model for all Latinas, and has served as our representative with integrity. Her background and experience are relatable to the people she served, and I most admire her advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and affordability.

What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + advocating for your positions before becoming a candidate?

I will listen to and advocate for the residents of the 5th Ward regardless of the issue size. Some examples of previous advocacy where I’ve helped my neighbors are: (1) I worked with a resident and the County to add signs to the basketball field to prevent tennis balls from breaking windows (2) I started this many weeks ago, and continue to notify the City of rat sightings, lidded garbage can issues, and pedestrian safety hot spots (3) I also formed a nonprofit to advocate for responsible implementation of cannabis retail into Hoboken.

What is a project or a problem that you are specifically looking forward to working on if elected?

I have spent a good deal of time door-knocking in Fox Hill, the senior/disability building run by the housing authority. Members of that community have been giving me tours of their apartments – showing me cracked walls, mold in bathrooms, and mice/roach infestations, that aren’t being properly addressed. Fox Hill is only a few blocks away from the luxury brownstones that command $3+ million when sold, while this community’s unmet needs are so basic it’s shocking. I look forward to partnering with the housing authority as they embark on the redevelopment plans and working with the community to advocate for our Fox Hill residents to ensure they get the attention they need to improve their living situation.

Do you think the city has done enough regarding rat abatement? If not, what is your comprehensive plan to meaningfully reduce our rat population?

No — The City has been too slow to solve this problem. This needs to be an “all hands on deck” sense of urgency in their response rather than the piecemeal approach the City is taking. I released a “rat plan ” in July and the City has implemented some, but not all of the recommendations. What’s missing: We need a short-term dedicated resource to develop a City-wide strategic plan, leverage best practices employed in other cities, increase trash removal in high garbage density areas, review zoning laws to ensure all new development has proper garbage storage, and involve the community and neighborhoods in the effort. This is a solvable problem that if done correctly can have noticeable results.

Many residents + would-be residents complain about the high cost of housing in Hoboken. What is your opinion + do you have plans to fix it?

Many Hoboken residents are concerned that they will need to leave town because of rising rents and costs. We need to remain diligent and push for more affordable housing within new development projects, advocate for and abide by rent control ordinances, call out unconscionable rent increases, and ensure there is equity in the process whether you are living in a luxury apartment or a 3 floor walk up and make sure our low-income residents are not left behind. Further to this, we need to ensure that income thresholds are incorporated into Hoboken’s Housing assistance plan.

Hoboken’s flooding issues are well-known + the City has made efforts to mitigate the impact through the flood gates, resiliency parks, + other projects. What else would you do to address this problem?

Climate change has outpaced our ability to adapt. Resiliency Parks, flood gates, and rain gardens are a starting point, but we need to continue to study the best practices of other cities, work with expert environmental engineers, explore new technologies, and remain diligent because what we’ve done to date is just the beginning. I look forward to providing transparency around all flood mitigation projects, the NHSA partnership, and proactively communicating with affecting neighborhoods.

Any other final notes/thoughts for HG readers about your candidacy, share here:

I want the role of the Council person to be what it was originally intended — a neighborhood advocate who puts the concerns of the 5th Ward first. I am qualified for this position because I am a trusted and effective leader with a proven track record of responding to issues with creative, well-thought-out solutions. I advocate for residents and deliver results. I am an empathic listener who won’t dismiss any concern, big or small. I have no political agenda and want to embrace the people, not the position. It’s about coming together as a community to make Hoboken a better place to live.
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