• Hoboken Mayoral Race 2017: An Intro to *ALL* of the Candidates Running

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    While politics in Hoboken {much like the national political stage} can be quite divisive, there’s most likely one thing we can all agree on: the importance of civic engagement. In just a few weeks, Hoboken will have its mayoral election, which happens just once every four years. We felt it VERY important for you to hear about all of the mayoral candidates  — from the candidates themselves, as this mayoral election can be a bit confusing with six candidates vying for the coveted city hall position {Ronald Bautista, Ravi Bhalla, Michael DeFusco, Jennifer Giattino, Karen Nason, and Anthony Romano}. To navigate the political waters, we thought, what better way to get to know the candidates than with a weekly series about things that matter to local residents? So here it is — a new political series on the site which covers issues that Hoboken residents are concerned about when it comes to our city. We’ve asked each candidate to share their thoughts about the questions that truly affect our community — unedited, unbiased — literally listed by candidate in alphabetical order by last name.

    A few things to note before we introduce the candidates:

    • The answers from the candidates have not been altered in any way — which includes grammatical errors {hey – the Oxford comma is a very divisive topic}. We just asked that they keep their answers under 200 words per question.
    • Each week, we’ll share another set of questions as well as provide ALL of the candidates’ answers to the same question so you can compare and learn about their views.
    • Hoboken mayoral elections are non-partisan, meaning parties are not affiliated to national platforms. We still included this item in our questions to candidates for informational purposes.
    • If you have further questions to ask candidates, get in touch! Email hello@hobokengirl.com and we may send out a supplemental questionnaire.
    • To register to vote locally and learn about other important election deadlines, click here.

    Now, without further ado, here are the six Hoboken mayoral candidates running for office in the 2017 Hoboken mayoral election:


    Ronald Bautista

    Name:

    Ron Bautista

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Democrat

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    18 years

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    I manage social media strategies and provide advice on multicultural marketing for a health insurance company in New York City. I’ve been an advisor on transit solutions, have led projects for clients like the NY State Government and started my career as an Executive Director of a NY nonprofit.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I decided to run for Mayor of Hoboken because I believe we need more activists to run for office; citizens who are focused on transforming people’s frustrations into real solutions. I’m the best person for the job because bootstrapping initiatives is the real challenge for any public servant, and that’s what I’ve done for over a decade. I was an entrepreneur right out of high school and paid for my college tuition by growing my mother’s house cleaning business in Hoboken.

    While getting my college degree I became Executive Director of a NY nonprofit that gives scholarships and provides leadership programs to college students of Ecuadorian background living in the Tri-State Area. After that I worked at a consulting company, leading projects and budgets for clients like the NY State Government. I’ve also been an advisor for the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, leading the proposal for traffic-free transit systems that would improve people’s commute, all at a fraction of what a subway or light rail system would cost. That’s what I want to bring to the table: a transit system that doesn’t hit traffic (express bus and shuttle lanes) proven to lower car dependency, promote entrepreneurship through public-private partnerships that will fund local art and music programs, and guarantee an active life for people by making our streets so pedestrian-friendly an 8-year-old can ride a bike and an 80-year-old can walk safely.

     

    Ravinder Bhalla

    Name:

    Ravi Bhalla

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Democrat

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    17 years

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    Attorney

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I’m a proud 17 year resident of Hoboken. I was born and raised in New Jersey, came to Hoboken as a young bachelor, and eventually met my wife, Bindya. We chose to stay in Hoboken for the long term, and are raising our two young children, Arza and Shabegh, here.

    When Mayor Zimmer decided not to run, she asked me to run for Mayor. I said yes, because I believe my experience and accomplishments on the Council make me the most qualified candidate for Mayor. I am the only candidate to have worked in partnership with Mayor Zimmer for the past eight years, taking a City which faced a fiscal crisis with a junk bond rating to one that is fiscally sound with a AA+ bond rating and doing so while holding the line on taxes. Similarly, as Council President I secured a key vote for saving our hospital by selling it to a private company and as a result avoiding default on a $50 million bond obligation.

    I know our best days are yet to come, and know we can work together to build an even brighter future for the City we call home.

    Michael DeFusco

    Name:

    Michael DeFusco

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Democrat

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    13 years

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    Executive at a Fortune 500 Media Corporation

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I’m running for Mayor to bring new energy and new ideas to Hoboken, improving our city services and delivering on the promise of a progressive local government. As a private sector professional, I understand how important it is to get things done right the first time, and with seven years of municipal service on the City Council and Zoning Board I have the experience to make that happen. I believe in big ideas to truly move our community forward, like repurposing parts of our Hoboken Train Terminal into a European-style market that will help innovative small businesses thrive, like opening a new public high school to keep families in Hoboken, and like creating a regional tech-hub in partnership with Stevens Institute to make our city a magnet for tech investment and jobs. I also believe our city needs to get back to basics by fixing potholes, keeping streets clean and being accountable on quality of life issues. Finally, I believe we need to better support our small business community by updating our outdated zoning laws, helping innovative new businesses like coffee roasters, urban wineries and co-working spaces come to our city. Hoboken needs a Mayor who will deliver these kinds of advances to our city and move our community forward, and that’s why I’m running for Mayor.

    Jennifer Giattino

    Name:

    Jennifer Giattino

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Republican

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    20 years

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    Real Estate Agent (mostly friends and family)

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I am married to Joe Giattino and we have 3 boys, Joey, Jack and Alex. I worked at the New York Stock Exchange for over a decade wearing several hats. I started as a clerk at a small firm, was hired by Goldman Sachs where I was the first woman clerk Goldman Sachs ever promoted to a broker. I have served on the City Council for the last six years representing the 6th Ward and am honored that my peers have elected me to three terms as Council President.

    It was my passion for Hoboken and my neighbors that drove me to get involved, run for council and now run for mayor. Being a ward councilperson has helped me to understand Hoboken residents’ concerns and issues no matter the size. What Hoboken deserves from its mayor is someone who will roll up their sleeves and get things done, be a strong leader while at the same time engaging the community and working with everyone. That is what you’ll get from me.

    Karen Nason

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Republican

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    Approximately 7 years

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    Owner Operator of Hoboken Hothouse/Hothouse Pizza 200 Monroe Street Hoboken

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I am born and raised in Portland, Maine. I am the youngest of 7. I have been a professional singer my entire life, and a business owner since the age of 16. My family was a middle class family and my Dad passed away when I was 10. My Mom and Dad instilled an incredible work ethic in all of us. I bought my first home at the age of 18 in South Portland. When I turned 22, I sold it and my business, and moved to NYC. I became a very successful business operator in Chelsea in the plant district and was considered the Plant Lady to the stars. I also turned my beautiful plant store into a Jazz Bar where one could shop and buy flowers, plants, have a glass of wine while your products were being wrapped and enjoy great Jazz. It was one of the first of its kind, creating a business within a business. It was so successful that I was on the front page of the NY Times and the Washington Post. After my rent went to $28,000 a month in Chelsea, I decided to take this idea to Hoboken and start again. I opened my first store on Washington Street called “Hoboken Hothouse”, and soon thereafter I opened in the southwest section of town which I knew would be the next hotspot in Hoboken for real estate, and eventually business. I then opened an event space called FUSE on Newark.

    I decided to run for Mayor after a pick-and-choose administration targeted my business and forced me to close it. I am running for many reasons, one of which is so that other businesses would not suffer the same fate as mine. As a small business owner, I believe I am a good example for development. I do not come from the current administration and have many many ideas as to how and why I will be the best person for this job which I would like to speak about at the Stevens Institute debate.

    Anthony Romano

    Name:

    Anthony L. Romano

    Political Party Affiliation:

    Democrat

    Years Living in Hoboken:

    My entire life.

    Current Profession/Career Background:

    Freeholder, Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders
    Retired Police Captain, Hoboken Police Department
    Previous Hoboken Board of Education Member
    Retired Teacher, Hoboken Public Schools

    Tell us a little bit about yourself — why you chose to run for Mayor, and why you think you’re the best person for the job:

    I have been in Hoboken my entire life and I love this city. I am a former teacher, Board of Education member, Police Captain, and currently a Hudson County Freeholder. I have spent my entire career in public service, and when Mayor Zimmer announced that she will not seek re-election, I decided to run for Mayor. I have more leadership and public service experience in comparison to the other candidates.

    I am running because Hoboken, at this critical juncture, needs an experienced, dynamic leader—one with the vision and commitment to build a stronger, better and more vibrant Hoboken. My entire career has been devoted to the people. I also have the institutional knowledge of the city, and I understand what the most critical issues are—from transportation to education and every public policy area in between.

    The other thing that truly sets me apart from my competition is that I am very engaged with the people. I participate in just about every Hoboken public event. I support different sectors and community groups. I have a vision for Hoboken that will make us a world class city. These are the reasons that set me apart from the other candidates.


    And that, friends, is round one of our guide to the Hoboken mayoral election. Stay tuned for next week, when all of the candidates share their thoughts on two other important questions that affect our city: infrastructure and working with politicians on a state and national level.

    Have questions about our election series or want to submit your own Q for the candidates? Please email hello@hobokengirl.com.

    As Jane Gooddall said, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”

    Register to vote for the local Hoboken and NJ elections here.

     


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HobokenGirl.com. She started the site to discover the wealth of fun things happening in Hoboken and Jersey City and surrounding Hudson County areas. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog Pierre + rescue pup Finn, or watching some really bad {but oh-so-good} reality TV and ordering takeout with her husband.


    15 comments

    • Mike Defusco sounds slick but I worry its all sizzle and no steak. For instance the train station/market idea.

      the property is owned by the port authority, not the city, and LCOR is the redeveloper. yet defusco complains about how the city dropped the ball but gives no details on a way forward.

      I need more than glossy pictures to believe his campaign messaging can become a reality.

      Reply
        • Oh Derek… thought you fancied Mike
          The City has a redevelopers agreement with LCOR and NJ Transit will work with any local municipality.
          Just because Zimmer couldn’t get NJT to re-time the traffic signal at the light rail crossing on Paterson Plank Road since she asked in 2007 is no reason to believe others cant work with NJT

          Reply
          • I’ll believe it when I see it, along with the new high school, new beach, new pools, new parking structure, ponies for every child, etc. Many recent promises sound like election campaign pie in the sky falsehoods that would disappear quickly post election, and their disappearance would be blamed on anyone except for the guy who dreamed them up.

            Reply
            • Guess some think adding 1 stop sign in a 6 year tenure on Garden St. is a major achievement.
              What’s wrong with having vision?
              Did Roberts have funding when he promised 1600 Park Ave Field?
              Did Zimmer have funding when she bought the Southwest Park or BASF?
              No.
              They used two tools, redevelopment and bonding.

              How can council people who were all ready who were all raring to go for Dawn Zimmer now suddenly be finding all this fault with her?
              Would Jen, Peter and Tiffany have blocked the Suez deal, complained about uneven park surfaces, criticized bump -outs and hesitate on taking Union dry dock if Zimmer was running or would they have gladly voted yes without a peep?
              It’s obvious some are uncomfortable with Mike, nobody expects them to leave a faction of the Republican party that wouldn’t ever vote for Mike and we know why.

            • John, your fake name sock puppet account here is drifting off into tangents.

              My comment addresses pie in the sky promises with vague details from Mike DeFusco. Redevelopment is nice for developers (sure wish I went into that business in Hoboken), and bonding has been a bone of contentions for decades with vehement opposition. The vague ‘we’ll work together’ claim sounds quite lovely, but the execution is where I’m skeptical and the lack of accountability for the one making grand claims if the pie falls out of the sky and makes a mess all over town is concerning.

              As for Dawn, the bar was low when she entered office, and plenty of DeFusco supporters today were also Dawn Zimmer supporters in years past (including Mike DeFusco himeself, and if Mike can break from her why can’t others?). Roberts was a nice guy, a hero firefighter sure, but not savvy with any leadership qualities required for the job of Mayor. The other two recent Mayors, went to prison. But Dawn pulled a sneaky end around when she ‘discussed with Stan and decided’ that the happy couple would anoint her successor without even asking for feedback from anyone outside her home, and once you break a window it is nearly impossible to un-break it. And no, not everyone would have voted yes in lock step had Dawn run for re-election again. There would be heated one on one debate in the Mayor’s office, just like there always has been.

              Oh, and Hoboken’s elections are non-partisan.

              Have a lovely day John, or whatever your name is.

    • 1.) What is a traffic-free transit system?
      2.) A privatized hospital?? A more expensive hospital?
      3.) Opening a new public high school? Why not reform the current one instead of spending more money to open a new one?
      4.) Pick and choose administration?

      These candidates state their experience and qualifications to be Mayor and some briefly mention the needs of current Hoboken residents. But the one issue they fail to mention is the need for affordable housing. Yes, Section 8 exists in Hoboken but rents have increased throughout the years-ask any person who’s had to move out of Hoboken because of the ridiculous increases in rent. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $2,900, a two-bedroom apartment averages at about 3k+, please tell me how this is affordable for lower-income people in Hoboken? How would you help sustain lower-income families in Hoboken as rents keep increasing each year?

      Reply
      • Hoboken can’t even fill up the current high school. The last thing the town needs is new school building so that the old one can be sold to developers who will cram in more resource sucking bodies.

        You are not alone Jane, reform the current high school and don’t go believing that an expensive building fixes things for anybody.

        Reply
    • I’ve only seen Michael DeFusco’s campaign everywhere and only heard about his promises. Without any comparison, I’ve already decided to vote against him. He is focused on unimportant problems that do not need to be fixed or can’t be fixed with his “simple” solutions, while not benefiting people who pay the most tax to the city.

      Reply
    • Based on these two questions, I feel all of our mayoral candidates are out of touch with the way we live in this city. We should have debates with real answers to serious problems that face our City now and into the future.

      Reply
    • I was born and raised in Hoboken. Was involved in Hoboken politics, now living in Arizona.
      With the new mayor and old regime politicians it should be interesting to see how the departments in city government are manned by the new mayor. Please keep me on your news update list? Thank you.
      Tommy Martinelli

      Reply

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