Home Events + News Paul Presinzano Wins Ward 1 Runoff Election in Hoboken

Paul Presinzano Wins Ward 1 Runoff Election in Hoboken

by Stephanie Spear
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While most of the candidates for the 2023 Hoboken City Council race knew the outcomes shortly after voting closed on November 7th, candidates from Ward 1 had to wait until after a runoff vote on December 5th to find out the winner. According to New Jersey election laws, to be declared a winner, a candidate must obtain a plurality of the votes. Since none of the three candidates achieved that number, a runoff election was held. Around 9PM on December 5th, Paul Presinzano was announced as the winner of the runoff election over Rafi Cordova. The final results are now certified as of Monday, December 18th. Read on to learn more about the runoff election that happened in Hoboken + more about both candidates.

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Election Runoff Results

Per Patch, Paul Presinzano was declared the winner of the runoff election shortly before 9PM on Tuesday, December 5th. Unofficial results from Hudson County showed that Presinzano won 692-529 over his opponent, Rafi Cordova.

As of Monday, December 18th, the election runoff results are now certified, per Patch. Paul Presinzano had 720 votes, and Rafi Cordova had 553 votes.

About the Race

The incumbent for the 1st Ward, Councilman Mike DeFusco, did not run for re-election. Three candidates campaigned for the seat: Rafi Cordova; Paul Presinzano; and Leo Pelligrini. Election rules state that the winning candidate must obtain 50% plus 1 threshold of the votes cast to be declared the winner. No candidate received the winning amount of votes.

Unofficial results show Paul Presinzano with 602 votes/48% of votes; Rafi Cordova with 531 votes/42%; and Leo Pellegrini with 114 votes/9%. There were six write-in votes, for a total of 1,253 total votes cast, according to Hudson County election officials.

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Paul Presinzano said, “I am honored to have received more votes than any other candidate in November’s election for 1st Ward Councilperson. People clearly want an independent voice that will fight for the 1st Ward, and they are excited for the chance to send an even stronger message to City Hall by voting in the upcoming runoff.”

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Rafi Cordova said, “The voters of the 1st Ward now have a clear two-way choice. As a private citizen, I have demonstrated my commitment to providing a helping hand to all in our community who have needed it, as well as my ability to get results by working constructively with officials and residents alike. As a Councilman, I will put people first, advocating for quality of life improvements for our community, for strengthening tenant protections, for more affordable housing, and for a comprehensive solution to our rat problem. I have put forward detailed plans in these areas — plans that will get the job done. I am highly encouraged by the strong positive response I have received since making it into the runoff. I will continue to campaign hard — talking to voters at their doors — every day between now and runoff day, Tuesday, December 5.”

What’s Next

A runoff election among the two candidates with the most votes, Paul Presinzano and Rafi Cordova, took place on Tuesday, December 5th. Polls were open on Tuesday, December 5th from 6AM to 8PM and votes were also accepted by mail. The election was open only to registered voters in the First Ward.

About the Candidates

Both candidates participated in The Hoboken Girl’s candidate questionnaire. Read on for their answers here

Rafi Cordova, Democrat, 1st Ward

1. 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.

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

3. What is your experience serving the residents of your Ward + 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.

4. 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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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 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.

8. 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.

See More: Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment Plan Approved by Montclair Council



Paul Presinzano, Democrat, 1st Ward

Paul Presinzano

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.

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