2008 Board Of Ed Election Recap
What next for Hoboken politics?
Election Night comes to an end
The theme of the NFL season leading up to the Super Bowl this year was “Who wants it more?” In the race for Board of Education, the answer was clearly “Hoboken People”.
Many newcomers call them BNR’s, but they call themselves “Hoboken People”. That’s because before newcomers were called “Yuppies”, the Hoboken People called them “The New Yorkers”. Yesterday the Hoboken People reminded us when their backs are up against the wall and they are about to lose control they unite, because they want it more.
Weak turnout, but better than last few years
Outside of the candidates themselves, the real winner in yesterday’s election was Newcomer Voter Apathy. Approximately 4000 people voted in the school board race when over 10,000 will come out for a Mayoral May, and many more in a Presidential November. The Hoboken People wanted it more, and they got a sweep of all three seats.
Carmelo Garcia led the ticket with 2241 votes, the first time a candidate received over 2000 since Frank “Pupie” Raia ran in 2003, and the highest vote total for a single candidate since David Anthony (now the board clerk) ran in 2000. Garcia was far and away the high vote getter, coming in first place in every ward but the Fifth. His running mates Frances Rhodes-Kearns and Phil DeFalco received nearly identical totals (1906 for Bubbles, 1897 for the “New Cammarano”).
No recounts here by a longshot
422 votes behind DeFalco was Tricia Snyder in Fourth Place with 1475 votes. Snyder came in First in the Fifth ward and second in the Second and Sixth. Running mate Brian Assadourian got 343 fewer votes than Snyder citywide. Phil Campbell received 425 fewer votes than Snyder.
I’ve heard from many political insiders for a while that the Kids First slate was poorly constructed and in trouble from the very beginning. One of my sources told me it was foolish to place the entire burden of the ticket on a first-year incumbent (Snyder) and two unknown candidates who never even attended school board meetings before deciding to run for the board (Assadourian and Campbell).
Read the complete recap, plus the winners & losers after the jump…
(2008 BoE election recap, continued…)
What a difference a year makes
Unlike last year’s ticket with known quantities like outspoken parent and BnR Rose Marie Markle and Carrie Gilliard, who had served on the board before, this year’s ticket was essentially untested. The burden of the ticket was placed on three relatively unknown people by a small group of political decision makers who kept their choices quiet until they were announced. Very few were involved in the process of creating the ticket.
Snyder can leave the board with her head held high that she did the best she could under the circumstances, and got a lot more votes this year than last year. However, she would have been more likely to retain her seat had the people who picked her ticket given her a little more ballast in the form of better known (and better informed) running mates.
The Independent Factors
While both “Kids First” and “Parents for Progressive Education” were well-funded slates aligned with political power players, the two independents had to run on grass roots blood, sweat and the courage of their convictions. For Maureen Sullivan that led to a very strong first effort, gaining 863 votes in her first time out. That’s about as many votes as Police Captain Anthony “Stick” Romano got when he first ran as an independent. A year later he was elected to the board. Sullivan is no shrinking violet, and is not likely to end her activism because she came short of a win.
In every race someone has to come in last, and this time it was Ron Rosenberg with 514 votes. Rosenberg was always a long shot, but managed to bring several issues into the race, even if silent candidates like Phil DeFalco didn’t need to say a thing to win. That’s Hoboken. Running the numbers its clear Kids First would have lost this year with or without the independents in the race. The absence of Sullivan and Rosenberg wouldn’t have come close to making the difference in the race between the slates because it is known many Sullivan voters also went for Snyder. The Kids First ticket was simply too weak to fight off the united front behind Carmelo and company, independents or not.
The biggest winner is Frank “Pupie” Raia, who was the treasurer of the PPE ticket and was instrumental in keeping the various factions together for a common goal. For Raia this was personal. His efforts to help Dawn Zimmer and Tricia Snyder get elected were rebuffed by some in “Kids First” as less effective as than they actually were. Pupie got his vote out, and his victory could be just the thing that keeps him in the three-way race for County Freeholder.
Superintendent of Schools Jack Raslowsky is also a big winner, since the PPE ticket made this a race about them cooperating with Jack and Kids First getting in his way. Assemblyman Ruben Ramos gets a boost, as Carmelo’s big vote total shows the “Latin Kings” aren’t dead yet. Chris Campos is gone, but Carmelo and Ruben remain standing.
…and The Losers
As for the biggest losers, the architects of the Kids First ticket would have to be on the top of the list. Fingers point to Michael Lenz and Carol Marsh who may have created the slate with an eye more focused on the 2009 Mayoral election than the Board of Ed. Lenz formed an alliance with former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Eugene Drayton to put the unknown Phil Campbell on the ticket in the hopes of securing the African-American vote for Kids First.
Critics say Lenz, Marsh and Theresa Minutillo formed the ticket in a vacuum, and alienated many former financial supporters and volunteers over the past year. Minutillo will undoubtedly lose her board Presidency, and may now have a hard decision to make about a run for re-election next year.
What does it mean for the City Council?
Ask three people, you will probably get six opinions. The bloom may be somewhat off the rose for Dawn Zimmer, whose endorsement of the Kids First ticket was not enough to get any of them to place in the Fourth ward. That is even more depressing when you remember both Snyder and Campbell live there. Critics say it just goes to show how much of an impact Pupie Raia and Andrew Amato had in Zimmer’s victory.
Both Zimmer and Peter Cunningham sent out fliers endorsing Kids First to their constituents, and recorded those robo-calls telling people who to vote for. Snyder did come in first in the Fifth, but anything less would have been a big surprise. Carmelo came in second there thanks to Applied Housing and Fox Hill Gardens. Assadourian brought up the rear in third in his home ward (the only place he placed).
Beth Mason went out on a limb by picking candidates supposedly based on her conscience and convictions, as opposed to taking the easy (but eventually unsuccessful) way out by endorsing the flawed Kids First ticket. Mason endorsed Snyder, who came in second in the Second ward to Carmelo Garcia, who lives in one of the many Applied Housing apartment buildings there. Underdogs Sullivan and Rosenberg had their best showings in the Second Ward where they received Mason’s blessing. Others may say there are no moral victories in politics.
Terry LaBruno wrote a letter in support of the winning candidates, so she gets to be in the winner column. Other members of the council didn’t go out on a limb to support anybody in this race, so they get no points in this round. The PPE ticket was so tied to Pupie Raia that the Russos seemed to keep their distance, while Peter Cammarano just keeps fading into the background as a non-entity. Mayor Roberts didn’t make any public endorsements, though he will likely start taking credit for the PPE ticket’s success anyway.
The bottom line: The School Board balance of power tips back to old-school Hoboken, but it is too soon to say what if any impact it will have on the 2009 race for Mayor and Council-at-Large. Nature abhors a vacuum, and when Yuppies don’t vote, Hoboken People will do what they need to do.