Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Four years ago, David Roberts was the obvious choice against the egregiously corrupt two-term Mayor Anthony Russo, but what a difference four years makes. I voted for Roberts last time, and he hasn't been a disaster as mayor, but I do think his opposition to last year's anti-pay-to-play ballot initiative that limits the ability of local lawmakers to award valuable contracts to their political contributors, as well as his campaign's reliance on enormous donations from developers, call his motives into question.
Frank "Pupie" Raia had the best TV commercials, but he never presented any convincing reason as to why anyone should vote for him. Sure, he talked a lot about how bad the parking situation is in town, but we all know how bad the parking situation is. His nickname a child's word for a bowel movement—I know that's not where the nickname comes from, but you know what, it doesn't matter. Plus, his election would mean a local pronunciation disaster: do you want to live in a town presided over by a Mayuh Rayuh? I don't.
Evelyn Smith has been active in the community for some time, and she gets credit for being the first African-American to run for mayor of this town, but her pit bull once bit and severely injured a Weehawken woman, and Smith's fight to save the guilty dog was awfully offensive. Under most circumstances, I think you should be able to have whatever pet you want to have, but you lose that right when your pet mauls someone. Sorry, you just do.
You can't tell me Mike Russo's candidacy is anything but a stick in Roberts' eye. The 29-year-old councilman and son of the convicted former mayor can't seriously think he has any chance of winning, but he will get enough support from "old Hoboken" to make things interesting.
Which brings us to Carol Marsh, a councilwoman who previously ran on Roberts' ticket here in Hoboken, where municipal elections are ostensibly non-partisan. (In other words, you can't call yourself a Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, etc.) I'm not sure if she's been the strongest voice on the council—I'm not saying she hasn't been, I'm saying I don't know, because I'm too busy with my non-stop rock & roll jet set lifestyle to go to the damn meetings. Bid-ump-bump. But she took the right stances on development, the town's master plan, the out-of-control city budget, and pay-to-play. Some try to paint her as a newcomer in this town where "born and raised" means a lot, but she's been here for 20 years, and that's plenty long enough to know what's going on. I'm troubled by her attempted outreach to Christie Whitman, but despite that transgression, Marsh seems like the most sensible and progressive candidate in the race.
Of course, all this is probably academic, since city law dictates that if no candidate gets 50 percent or more of the vote in the mayoral election, the top two vote-getters compete in a one-on-one June runoff election. With five horses in the race, I doubt very much that we'll see a new mayor of Hoboken elected tonight. So it's all about getting out the vote today—you don't have to win, you just have to not come in lower than second.
There are also approximately 461 candidates running for three at-large spots on the council, and there's no runoff election in that race—the top three get in, plain and simple. It's too confusing a race for me to handicap or endorse, but each of the mayoral hopefuls has a slate, and there are some independents vying for those spots as well.
So, get out there and vote. Here's The Times' slightly patronizing take on it all. If you're not sure where to go, find yer polling place here. The joints are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. I doubt Roberts will pull the old Russo trick and block off Washington Street at random intervals during the evening rush in an attempt to prevent busloads of commuters from making it to the voting booths—but you never know, so I'd get there early if I were you. This is Hudson County, after all. But that's why we love it.