Dave Roberts looking down a long, lonely road

Dave Roberts looking down a long, lonely road

May 09, 2007 JJ

It looks like it's the Last Tango in Hoboken for Mayor Dave Roberts. Yesterday's City Council election results left Roberts without any real support on the municipal panel, a fatal diagnosis for the remainder of his lame duck term in office.

Monday, Roberts said it himself.

"If (Frank) Raia and (Ron) Rosenberg get blown away, I'd be disappointed," said the mayor of the races in the Third Ward and First Ward, respectively. It is safe to write that Roberts is very disappointed.

Dashing the mayor's hopes were the two incumbents - First Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, a six-year tormentor of Roberts, and Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo. Russo is a member of the "Voice For All Hoboken" council members who joined together to battle the Roberts administration.

Russo and Castellano took the brunt of the campaign attacks by the administration. The literature's mantra was that the Russo family is corrupt and that they are part of a plan by Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian P. Stack to take over not only the Mile Square City but Hudson County.

At the Russo headquarters last night, there was a large contingent of well-wishers, including Stack and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. After chanting Russo's name, the crowd began shouting, "Stack didn't abandon us."

It was a clear message to Roberts and the leaders of the Hoboken Democratic Party for what they see as abandoning Russo, Campos and the other young members of the City Council.

Beth Mason defeated "Voice" member and retired Fire Chief Richard Tremitiedi in the Second Ward. Tremitiedi was already a long shot and Mason far out spent the former fire chief.

If Roberts wants some say on the council, he will have to go to Mason and possibly Peter Cunningham of the Fifth Ward, if they are amenable. First, Cunningham will have to fight off Peter "Perry" Belfiore in a run-off.

The problem is that there is really not a close relationship between Mason and Roberts and the new councilwoman may be more interested in Roberts' title than the man. Incumbent Chris Campos was ahead in the Fourth Ward by about 400 votes, at this writing, but he could not avoid a runoff against Dawn Zimmer, who could get Roberts' backing. She is also backed by Michael Lenz and Tony Soares.

An interesting figure in the Fourth Ward race was Freddie B. Frazier, described by some as a spoiler whose job, this time around, was to force a runoff and is accused of being financed by Raia. Unofficially, Frazier drew about 56 machine votes, but then there were about 52 absentee votes cast for him. By comparison, Campos had single-digit absentees. There is a possible election complaint here. It could make a difference on whether or not there will be a runoff.

Sixth Ward incumbent Angelo "Nino" Giacchi is in a runoff with - well, either Thomas Foley or William Noonan. Giacchi is hoping it will be Foley because Noonan drew support mostly from the same pool of voters who usually back Giacchi.

Roberts said he would sit down with the eventual winners of the council races to discuss his vision for the city's future. We are looking forward to that session - if it ever happens.

The big winners in all this are Stack and Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons.

Most of those who ran and are favorites in runoffs support Stack for the state Senate seat in the 33rd District and his Assembly running mates, Hoboken Councilman Ruben Ramos and former West New York Councilwoman Caridad Rodriguez.

Fitzgibbons faced a possible challenge to his seat from the Roberts administration. The big victory by Russo is a plus for Fitzgibbons, who is major factor in the Voices for All Hoboken group. It appears that the dean of the freeholders has a good shot at returning to the county post.

Turner had strong feelings about the outcome.

"It goes to show that all the negative campaign they are doing does not work," said Turner, mostly about the Hudson County Democratic Organization. "It didn't work in Hoboken, and it will not work in the primary. People are seeing through their weekly corruption scandal press conferences."

But they are entertaining.

There were no surprises in North Bergen, where Mayor Nicholas Sacco got his machine to churn out about 8,200 votes for himself while the other commissioners - Frank Gargiulo, Hugo Cabrera, Theresa Ferraro and Allen Pascual - got 300 to 400 votes less, as planned.

West New York was an unusual uncontested race.

Mayor Sal Vega was the top vote-getter by about 3,100. Commissioners Gerald A. Lange Jr., Michelle Fernandez Lopez, Lawrence Riccardi and Alberto Rodriguez followed the North Bergen script of receiving 300 to 400 votes less than the mayor.

If one wanted to throw a little cold water on the race, it could be pointed out that when U.S. Rep. Albio Sires ran for mayor in 2003 in an uncontested election, he received about 1,000 more votes.

Sires ran a cheap election that year. Besides being a spendthrift, he knew that he was running for Congress the following year and would need the money. They will have to crack the whip in West New York for more HCDO votes in the June 5 primary.

At least we can look forward to Vega's Freedom Wagon RV ride into Union City as part of his Democratic Party primary campaign for the 33rd District Senate seat. Vega said he planned to drive the RV into enemy territory today.

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