Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason's former campaign manager criticizes her in a letter

Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason's former campaign manager criticizes her in a letter

June 16, 2010 Hoboken Reporter

HOBOKEN -- Last year, Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason took on then-Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer in a mayoral election. After Mason lost, Mason remained one of the only publicly critical residents speaking out against Zimmer. Most recently, she has sent out e-mails expressing her concerns about the possibility that the administration may move the city's public works garage to a residential neighborhood.

In one recent letter sent to various news outlets, Mason said that two Zimmer administration representatives had said publicly that strong consideration was being given to moving the garage to 8th and Hudson streets -- even though this was not the case (the area was on a list of several possible destinations). The garage issue has aroused the ire of residents. and Mason and Councilman Michael Russo have taken up the residents' concerns. Some say they raised the issue only to gain political favor, and others say they are protecting the wards they represent.

At the beginning of last week, Mason sent an e-mail saying that Zoning Board Chairman Tony Soares had attacked her and her family on the internet regarding the heated garage issue.

Wednesday, Mason's former campaign manager, Jake Stuiver, responded by saying Mason and her supporters have done similar things.

Although Stuiver helped run Mason's campaign last year, he supported Zimmer after Mason lost, and has since been appointed to the Housing Authority under the Zimmer administration.

This week, he said that Mason has used the same uncivil tactics she decries, and that she should denounce similar tactics from her allies.

While Stuiver has criticized the Mason campaign before, this letter is a more harsh indictment than any of his in the past.

What do you think? Read the letter and comment below...

Dear Editor:

Councilwoman Beth Mason this week decried the tone of political discourse in Hoboken, specifically regarding comments by Zoning Board Chairman Tony Soares about her family.

Let me be the first to say that, having been friends with Beth and Ricky Mason and their two lovely daughters for many years now, I can attest to the fact that she has a wonderful, wholesome, loving family that spends lots of quality time together and are a joy to be around. I was proud to attend the bat mitzvahs of both her daughters, who have always impressed me with their intellect, talent, deep concern for others and maturity far beyond their years. I have always found Ricky to be a kind and thoughtful gentleman whom I admire greatly.

While I do not believe Mr. Soares “attacked” the councilwoman’s family, I share her view that people’s families should not be dragged into politics, and that the tone of our political climate needs to change.

I urge her to turn rhetoric into action by denouncing the various surrogates, consultants and blogs that have systematically worked to tear down -- yes, even to the extent of attacking their families -- anyone and everyone who disagrees with her and/or supports Mayor Zimmer and the City Council majority.

>From the smear piece on Peter Cammarano’s personal life to the “expose” on Kim Glatt’s personal finances to the hit job alleging Keith Furman to have a nefarious agenda for having the audacity to criticize Ms. Mason on the municipal budget to depicting Mayor Zimmer as a chimpanzee and mocking Mr. Soares’ height, a local website known for relentlessly toeing the Beth Mason line and attempting to incinerate anyone who doesn’t is something Ms. Mason can no longer appear to condone if she is to have any credibility calling for civility. Her unofficial spokesman who at every council meeting calls pro-Zimmer public speakers disingenuous is promoting an environment in which some might shy away from speaking at meetings for fear of being attacked -- something Ms. Mason, with her own personal track record of civic activism, should seek to stop immediately.

Having been involved with Ms. Mason’s mayoral bid last spring, I realized too late that we had been running a campaign whose negative tone was coming back to haunt us. Her fall special-election campaign was even worse -- one of the most relentlessly negative I have ever seen. That was also the campaign in which “the coolest mom ever” prominently displayed her daughters as political props -- something to be avoided if one truly wants to keep one’s children out of politics and off-limits.

Further exacerbating the ugliness of our political environment is Ms. Mason’s penchant for issuing misleading statements about her council colleagues and many important issues. For example, her statements about the municipal garage have been designed to scare people into thinking it might get moved to Eighth and Hudson Streets, when she knows full well that the bond ordinance has nothing to do with moving it anywhere, and in fact the money cannot be used to do so. Publicly attacking Council President Peter Cunningham’s wife -- while the Cunninghams were away attending her mother’s funeral, no less -- was also unfortunate.

Councilwoman Mason is right to want to improve our political discourse. As the person whose own scorched-earth approach to politics is chiefly responsible for promoting the politics of personal destruction, she is in an ideal position to lead by example and stop fostering an environment in which anything and everything is fair game when it comes to tearing down one’s opponents and smearing all with whom one disagrees.

Jake Stuiver 

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