Monday, February 14, 2005

Brush Fire In Hoboken 

The worst-kept secret in Hoboken politics will become official public knowledge Tuesday when Councilwoman Carol Marsh declares her candidacy for mayor. She's already begun setting up her campaign hq on Washington Street between 10th and 11th, in the space recently vacated by that defunct Internet Plus place. Marsh will be running against Mayor David Roberts, who's seeking a second term. Also rumored to be considering a run in the May 9 election is Councilman Michael Russo, son of the disgraced former Mayor Anthony Russo, found guilty of a bunch of stuff a couple months ago.

I voted for Roberts in 2001 because I was an "anybody but Russo" guy. I'd made up my mind about Russo in 1997, when his organization had a storefront on Washington Street under the banner "Democrats For Whitman." Some Democrats, huh?

The point of partisan politics is that they're partisan. Does that mean you always have to vote down the same column, even if you hate the candidate? Of course not. When I was still voting in Bergen County, one year ('92, I think) some kooky pro-gun Democrat ran against Marge Roukema for the House of Representatives. I knew I couldn't get behind him, so I wrote in a vote for my mother, knowing that the entrenched Roukema would win handily anyway. Plus, it granted me the unique experience of voting for both of my parents in the same election, since my father was on the ballot for municipal office. (He won.)

But that's what's so confusing about Hoboken municipal elections. They are non-partisan, at least officially. You can't run for local office here as Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, or even Gay Nazi Bikers From Hoboken. I admit it, I threw that last one in there for whoever found this site by typing "gay nazi biker from hoboken" into a search engine. You can't make this shit up.

The point is that if you are a blindly partisan voter, but you don't have time to pay attention during campaign season, it's not like you can tune it out, show up in the booth on Election Day, and flick the right levers (press the right spots on the screen, whatever) without having to think much. Hell, Carol Marsh ran on Roberts' ticket four years ago, and now she's trying to unseat him. It's all so confusing, and the worst thing is that there's no good sources of info in the media. New York City media blithely ignores Hudson County politics, and the Star-Ledger only checks in on things once in a while as far as I can tell (I don't read it every day, or even every week, truth be told). Hell, The Daily Targum would do a better job covering goings-on around here than the pathetic Hoboken Reporter does. The web isn't much help, either. You know how I wrote that ex-Mayor Russo was "found guilty of a bunch of stuff" above? I used that absurd generalization because several Google searches on "Anthony Russo" "convicted" "bribery" "extortion" and other combinations of similar terms yielded very little of authority, and without the exact information handy from a credible source, there was nothing that I felt comfortable linking.

It's frustrating, especially because this election—like every election—is important. In recent months, established Hoboken businesses like Hand Mad have fled a few blocks back from Washington Street because of rent gouging, and they're likely to be replaced on the main drag by more faceless franchises, sucking some of the spirit and character out of main street. Development and construction is an issue as more open space is used up. And the Mister Softy truck is way too loud.

I have no idea who I'm going to vote for, and there's a little less than three months left to figure it out. There's a council meeting at City Hall this Wednesday at 7 p.m. I know, I know, so boring, and who has the time? But how else to see the pols in action and see who's the best candidate?

What, you thought I was going to write about the Grammys?

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