The Jersey Journal endorses Cammarano for Hoboken mayor

The Jersey Journal endorses Cammarano for Hoboken mayor

Friday May 08, 2009

The Jersey Journal endorses Councilman-at-Large Peter Cammarano for mayor of Hoboken in Tuesday's election.

This newspaper considers the 31-year-old attorney at the Newark law firm of Genova, Burns and Vernoia and the 2006 statewide legal coordinator for Robert Menendez's successful U.S. Senate campaign as Hoboken's best person for stabilizing local taxes and making certain the city's land use follows its Master Plan.

This election is a seminal moment for the Mile Square City. Voters will put a face on the government that they want to guide them out of a fiscal morass that requires state control of the city's finances and has led to a 23 percent increase in municipal taxes.

A major weakness in the lame duck administration of Mayor David Roberts has been its inability to find steady revenue streams. Rather than raise taxes or cut city services, the administration has relied on one-shot gimmicks, such as the sale and lease-back of the municipal garage. Worse, this past year's budget was badly underfunded and the City Council was kept in the dark about the state of the city's fiscal health.

This far from absolves the City Council form its role in last year's budget.

Once apprised of the city's dismal fiscal condition, mayoral candidates Beth Mason and Dawn Zimmer, and others, dropped the ball on their responsibilities as council members by not passing a budget because they were more concerned about blaming the Roberts administration than coming up with a fiscally responsible plan.

Leaving the hard decisions on possible tax increases and layoffs to the state was taking the easy way out and not showing much leadership.

Despite the fact his assertions that the council should have done everything possible to avoid the state coming in, this newspaper believes that of all the mayoral candidates Cammarano would be the best person to work with state monitor Judy Tripodi to improve the city's finances.

Cammarano is completing his first term as a councilman and has been involved in some of the city's major achievements, including the addition of new open space, such as Pier C and the public parks at Maxwell Place and 1500 Park Avenue, and the opening of the Hoboken boathouse.

Although The Jersey Journal believes the city's efforts in helping to finance the resurrection of St. Mary's Hospital was a bad idea, Cammarano believes it was important that the medical facility survive to benefit local residents.

During the Police SWAT team scandal, Cammarano was the first to call for disbanding the squad, which in 2005 headed to the Gulf Coast to help Hurricane Katrina victims, and to suspend any officers photographed with Hooters waitresses who were holding Hoboken police weapons.

During the past year, city residents have been treated to bitter City Council disputes and even nastier election campaign. What any new administration does not need is more of the same. This is one reason that The Jersey Journal also endorses Cammarano's three at-large council running mates, Angel Alicea, Michael Novak and Frances Rhodes-Kearns. This would give him votes on the council to make the changes needed in the city.

Alicea is a Union City police detective who has connections to the Hoboken Housing Authority and has served the city as a school board trustee.

Novak is a well-known civically active resident and president of Atlantic Environmental Solutions, Inc. Novak's business expertise will come in handy as Cammarano and the City Council make Hoboken a greener place to live.

Rhodes-Kearns is a school board member and former president of the Board of Education who was named to the New Jersey School Board Association's legislative subcommittee.

What any new administration has to recognize is that there are many talented people in Hoboken who can be tapped for ideas and energy.

The three independent mayoral candidates, Ryn Melberg, Frank Orsini and Tom Vincent, have done well during the debates and forums leading up to the election. Melberg showed she has the financial aptitude, Vincent raised eyebrows with some of his common sense approaches to such problems as to how to deal with the rowdiness at the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade ("Hold it on St. Patrick's Day"), and Orsini showed that his passion for the city is second to none.

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