Fewer than 100 votes separate top vote-getters

Fewer than 100 votes separate top vote-getters

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Jersey Journal

As many expected, Hoboken will have to wait until next month for its next mayor to be chosen. Council members Dawn Zimmer and Peter Cammarano will vie in a runoff June 9 to determine who will lead the city.

None of the six candidates running gained the 50 percent-plus-one votes needed to win the election, so the two top vote-getters, Cammarano, who came in first with 3,755 votes, and Zimmer with 3,671 will face off.

Zimmer said she was shocked she got into the runoff.

"I was feeling confident, but we hadn't done recent polling. People seemed supportive, but I wasn't sure," said the Fourth Ward councilwoman.

"We have accomplished our task - we are in the runoff election," Cammarano said to his supporters, which was met with cheers of "Peter, Peter!"

Councilwoman Beth Mason finished a distant third, somewhat of a shock. The other candidates for mayor were Tom Vincent, Frank Orsini and Ryn Melberg.

With Cammarano, Zimmer and Mason so well-liked among their respective voting blocs, few expected that last night's election would result in a clear winner.

When asked how she can defeat Cammarano, Zimmer said: "I'm going to focus on expanding my grassroots campaign. My campaign consists of people who are really concerned about the future of Hoboken - taxes, overdevelopment."

Cammarano said he looks forward to the next campaign and anticipates that this one will be more substantive and focus more on the issues, and less on personal attacks than in the past.

An unprecedented state takeover and the subsequent soaring property taxes and bloated municipal budget of $123.8 million were all major issues during this election. Two-term Mayor Dave Roberts chose not to seek re-election this spring and Hoboken residents were eager for some new blood.

Each candidate had their talking points - Cammarano, an attorney with a top New Jersey law firm, needed only to remind voters he opposed the state takeover all along, which would have resulted in lower property taxes and no interference from the state Department of Community Affairs.

Zimmer portrayed herself as a breath of fresh air to politics-as-usual in Hoboken. She has attacked Hoboken's use of PILOTs, fought against development in northern and western Hoboken, and said she wouldn't shy away from payroll cuts and furloughs for Hoboken's municipal workforce as a way to cut the budget - a move that made her none too popular with city workers.

The past few months have seen a boisterous campaign season in Hoboken, marked by last-minute smear campaigns and the anonymous midnight attack fliers that many have come to expect as a part of Mile Square politics.

Cammarano, who was elected to the City Council on Roberts' slate, and who agreed with Roberts on many budget issues, is often depicted by foes as a Roberts clone.

When asked how he would deflect attacks by Zimmer that he is the same as Roberts, Cammarano replied, "Mason tried that and it didn't work. How many times in the last two weeks did you hear that from them?"

A total of 10,188 people voted in yesterday's election. Provisional votes for the council and the mayor have not been counted yet and will be counted Friday.

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