Recap: Fourth Ward Special Election

11/4/2010:

Latest Count: Occhipinti 1231; Lenz 825

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Challenger Tim Occhipinti defeated Michael Lenz on the voting machines at the polls by 50 votes, making the Vote-By-Mail tally moot.

In the end it wasn’t the VBM’s that put Occhipinti over the top. It was the nearly 400 votes for Occhipinti on the machines in Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s “stronghold” 4-2 and 4-1 districts. These voters walked through a green-shirted gauntlet to vote against the Mayor’s handpicked choice to represent them.

406 vote margin is impossible for Lenz to overcome

Lenz ran as Zimmer’s 5th vote. Occhipinti told voters he wants to put the 4th ward first.

That message resonated as Occhipinti racked up support in all 4 districts. The appointed incumbent’s marketing strategy was a weak attempt to transfer some goodwill from Dawn Zimmer onto Lenz. When campaign polling showed it wasn’t working (and Zimmer wasn’t as popular as they thought), Lenz went hard negative in a clear sign of desperation. Allegations of fraud, intimidation and corruption were handed out like Halloween candy. To date, none have been shown to have any basis in fact. Lenz was losing – and they knew it – so they threw the kitchen sink at their opponent.

A week before the election, Lenz made a strategic move to call the Vote-By-Mail ballots into question in the hope he would win the Election Day machine vote. This would give him a platform from which to scream “I wuz robbed!” and be branded a martyr. The voters of the 4th ward didn’t give him that opportunity. Occhipinti beat Lenz on the machines by a 50-vote margin, making the VBM’s moot.

After challenges on procedural issues, Lenz got 34 mail-in votes while Occhipinti got 390.

Sore losers at the City Council meeting last night

At first Lenz wouldn’t concede. He continued his campaign rhetoric even as Zimmer was admitting the matter was over, and she was moving on.

Lenz still hasn’t congratulated Occhipinti. That lack of class transferred to the council meeting last night. Lenz didn’t attend, but Occhipinti did. Since the election hasn’t been certified he couldn’t be sworn in, but it’s clear he’s the Councilman-Elect.

Mike Russo thanked Lenz for his service and congratulated Occhipinti on his win. Most people in the room applauded Occhipinti, but not the four remaining members of the former Zimmer Majority. They refused, and actually amped up the rhetoric of division throughout the meeting.

The campaign is over. Time to govern.

Instead of putting the campaign behind them and getting down to the business of government, Zimmer’s council members want to keep the election hype going until the next one comes along. They are the very definition of sore losers, each more astonished than the next that the voting public doesn’t see them as the “smartest, bestest people in the city.”

Zimmer, Dave Mello, Peter Cunningham and Carol Marsh made this a race about them, and they lost. Big. By over 400 votes – almost 200 of them on the machines in Zimmer and Mello’s home district alone.

The only votes left to count are a few provisional paper ballots and military votes. These will be dealt with tomorrow when the Hudson County Board of Elections is expected to certify the results, allowing Occhipinti to take his place on the council.

11/2/2010 Update:

Occhipinti Romps

Early reports suggest that Tim Occhipinti defeated Mike Lenz on the voting machines 841 to 791. Vote by Mail and Provisional votes not included in those numbers… More to come.

11/1/2010 Update:

The Final Countdown in the 4th Ward

The 4th ward campaign is down to its final hours as both sides prepare to get out their vote on Election Day. Here’s a rundown of the stories every 4th ward voter should read before entering the voting booth. Click on the hotlinks to see more.

Remember when unelected councilman Michael Lenz declared his team was “Not elected to cut taxes?”

After you watch the video above, check out the original Deconstructing Michael Lenz post outlining Lenz’s decades in Hudson County politics that was later expanded on by PolitickerNJ.

Additionally:

Lenz Hoboken benefits saves $4500 for himself

When he was appointed 4th ward councilman in 2009, Lenz opted out of the Health Insurance Plan at his full-time job and signed on to the City benefits plan. That put an additional $4500 into his pocket while costing city taxpayers $23,000. Lenz also arranged for political ally Tony Soares to receive Health Benefits and a $5000 stipend in a deal appointing him to the North Hudson Sewarage Authority board.

As councilman, Lenz has been a key player in botching the $25.5 million sale of the Municipal Garage, as well as handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to politically connected law firms associated with his bosses.

By far the biggest hypocrisy of his short time on the council is the story Hoboken411 broke about how two developers returned a favor to Lenz after he supported a height variance on their property. Lenz met with the developer in a North Bergen diner, voted his way and collected $1000 in campaign contributions. Last Friday a Superior Court Judge rejected the Lenz campaign’s vote-by-mail suppression effort, which was seen as ironic considering the shenanigans Lenz was part of in the 2007 4th ward race.

Hoboken411 stories on Tim Occhipinti

Tim Occhipinti hasn’t been around Hoboken politics as long as Michael Lenz, but he’s made his mark over the past year. After an unsuccessful independent campaign for Council-at-Large in 2009, Occhipinti stayed involved as a founder of Hoboken Volunteers and board member of the Boys and Girls club.

During the early summer heatwave Occhipinti asked why the city didn’t plan to open the community swimming pool before late July. Occhipinti also called out City Hall for scheduling a Sunday night meeting to suppress public participation on a $16 million bond vote.

Occhipinti found himself directing traffic when a tractor-trailer took out the signal at the intersection of Paterson and Jackson, and led a community brainstorming session regarding the horrible traffic situation in Southwest Hoboken. Occhipinti also brought attention to the terrible conditions Hoboken’s youngest soccer players are facing and sounded the alarm about the lack of progress on a Southwest Park and redevelopment plan.

See the original Fourth Ward Special Election preview below. The polls open at 6am Tuesday morning and close at 8pm. Stay with Hoboken411 for continuing coverage!

9/27/2010 Update:

Occhipinti opens HQ, secures Ramos endorsement

4th ward council candidate Tim Occhipinti opened his new campaign headquarters this weekend on a high visibility corner at Monroe and Observer. Here’s a campaign-provided video of Occhipinti’s brief speech, where he describes the 4th ward as the Heart or Hoboken, celebrates it’s diversity and takes aim at his “opponents” in this race.

Occhipinti also secured the endorsement of Assemblyman and former 4th ward councilman Ruben Ramos, who was dressed in red for his beloved Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Lenz plans to open HQ in a residential zone

While Occhipinti followed conventional Hoboken campaign wisdom (and the Zoning Code) by opening his HQ in a retail storefront, un-elected councilman Michael Lenz is operating the business of his campaign out of a residential apartment building. The Lenz HQ will be located at 60 Madison Street. It’s a convenient location for Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose 3622 square foot, 3-bedroom Triplex is located right across the street at 59 Madison.

9/24/2010 Update:

Occhipinti opens Campaign HQ; Sanford drops out

The 4th Ward Special Election is still over a month out – but a quick Friday update for you…

The hardly-known candidate James Sanford backed out as fast as he entered (I guess the Lenz & Zimmer ties put the kibosh on that..) and main contender Tim Occhipinti announces the opening of his campaign headquarters “kick off” event tomorrow, Saturday, September 25th at 11am. Located at the old Hoboken Fish & Pets at the corner of Monroe & Observer.

“Please join us as we kick off our campaign for the 4th Ward City Council seat by opening our campaign headquarters this Saturday, September 25th at 11am. Meet our campaign team and your neighbors and friends who believe it’s time for an independent spirit in the 4th Ward.

I hope you can stop by and say hello, have a cup of coffee and munchkin and find out how you can join our effort. I appreciate all the support you have shown so far and look forward to seeing you this Saturday!

Sincerely,
Tim Occhipinti, 4th Ward Council Candidate

9/17/2010:

Occhipinti vs. Lenz (and some other guy)

The deadline to file petitions to run in the November Special Election has passed setting up a showdown between appointed 4th ward (appointed) councilman Michael Lenz and challenger Tim Occhipinti.

Lenz is a longtime Hoboken political player and Hudson County employee who holds a patronage job at the Meadowview government complex. Occhipinti is a relative newcomer who works as an Application Support Analyst for an asset management firm’s buy-side trading desk. The two major candidates each have a base to work from, but it’s anybody’s guess which campaign will have what it takes to attract and motivate the undecided voters necessary to win.

A first: No Traditional `Old Hoboken` candidate

Occhipinti’s limited personal base includes people he’s worked with as a board member of the Boys and Girls Club and Hoboken Volunteers, his friends and neighbors. The 4th ward is the most ethnically and economically diverse in the city. It includes the largest concentration of Hoboken Housing Authority residents, as well senior housing at 400 1st Street and 220 Adams. With no traditional “Old Hoboken” candidate emerging from the Hispanic and Italian communities, Occhipinti’s base has grown substantially. Potential candidates such as former Councilwomen-at-Large Terry LaBruno and Nellie Moyeno decided not to run this time.

Lenz needs Zimmer voters, but many upset with Soares vote

Lenz’s base is personified by a cadre of angry, single, middle-aged former advertising executives. They have time on their hands to bang their keyboards hard on sites that allow them to spread bile under multiple screen names. (The rule-breakers aren’t welcome here, but honest Lenz supporters who don’t violate Hoboken411 policies are welcome to post valid opinions on this race.) Mayor Zimmer appeared at Lenz’s campaign kickoff, held at the home of reigning Hoboken Back-Stabbing Champion Jake Stuiver, who also serves as Lenz’s Treasurer.

Expanding the base, Lenz vote for Soares looms large

Both Lenz and Occhipinti need to expand their base to attract the condo-dwelling young couples and families who changed the political face of the ward.

Some have moved out since Zimmer first ran in 2007 while others have become disillusioned with the Mayor. Many still remain loyal to Zimmer, but are far less enthusiastic about Lenz. His vote to give Tony Soares the North Hudson Sewerage Authority seat (with it’s $5000 salary and medical benefits) set off a firestorm of criticism among Zimmer’s hard-core supporters. Many say they won’t support Lenz in the way they backed Zimmer, which has forced Lenz to reach out to other wards to find people to work on his campaign. Occhipinti will also have a wealth of volunteers from outside the ward thanks in large part to the polarizing figure he’s running against. There are already hundreds of voters salivating at the opportunity to vote against Lenz, but that won’t be enough for Occhipinti to win. He will also need to earn support from people who don’t know Lenz from Adam.

So who is this third guy who filed petitions?

While Lenz and Occhipinti have spent several months preparing for this showdown, a third candidate managed to get enough signatures (about 100) to get his name on the ballot at the last minute.

James Jeremy Sanford is a member of the Hoboken Republican Committee with ties to GOP allies of Zimmer and Lenz. What little is known about him makes it clear he is in no way a serious contender for the seat. To the extent he would get any votes at all, Lenz’s supporters are counting on them coming out of the potential support pool for Occhipinti. Lenz himself is rumored to be making deals to campaign side-by-side with Hudson County Sheriff Juan Perez, who is running on the Republican line for re-election.

Lenz: Campaign strategy much like Zimmer

Watch for Lenz to “Stay Positive” in his official campaign materials, while operatives go extremely negative with “independent” attacks on Occhipinti online and in midnight fliers.

His allies will likely launch a viral campaign to make it appear as though Sanford has a base of support that should make him be taken seriously in order to divert undecided voter attention away from Occhipinti. They’re also counting on the traditional newspapers to be “fair” and offer equal space to all three candidates, again diluting the waters. From the beginning and to the end this is a race between Lenz and Occhipinti.

Hoboken411 will post basic campaign information from Sanford (should he provide it) but won’t pretend to consider him a viable candidate in this race.

The fourth ward should buckle up for yet another bumpy ride!

Leave a Reply

129 Comments on "Recap: Fourth Ward Special Election"


Member
camel2
5 years 4 months ago

When will Hoboken voters realize what a self-serving CANCER Lenz is? Each year Mike somehow swoons a new batch of weak, lonely losers into supporting him with his serenading delivery of words.

Yet all he cares about is himself.

Just ask the dozens of ex-supporters who found out the hard way.

If he wins, it will be a complete embarrassment to Hoboken.

Member
5 years 4 months ago

Hoboken has been embarrassing itself for years w/o Lenz’s help. The budget is a complete embarrassment. How much we pay people is an embarrassment. How many people we have on staff is an embarrassment. How much money we waste on nonsense is an embarrassment. At least on that metric, Lenz isn’t an embarrassment b/c almost all the people lining up to feed at the feeding trough hate the guy. Just wish someone else would toss their name in the hat though.[quote comment=”197550″]When will Hoboken voters realize what a self-serving CANCER Lenz is? Each year Mike somehow swoons a new batch… Read more »

Member
wiskeytango1
5 years 4 months ago

matt your a work of art…as well as your mayor ..shame on all of you. 😮 [quote comment=”197591″]Hoboken has been embarrassing itself for years w/o Lenz’s help. The budget is a complete embarrassment. How much we pay people is an embarrassment. How many people we have on staff is an embarrassment. How much money we waste on nonsense is an embarrassment. At least on that metric, Lenz isn’t an embarrassment b/c almost all the people lining up to feed at the feeding trough hate the guy.Just wish someone else would toss their name in the hat though. [/quote]

Member
xyzpdq
5 years 4 months ago

You may be right matt_72, I really don’t know. I’m not one of the political nerds (sorry) on this board. However, shouldn’t you hold Lenz to the same standard? Isn’t he feeding at the trough, too? Everything I’ve read about the guy is he’s been using politics to get paid for a long time. He got paid to work on Dave Roberts’ campaign, then he wanted to be Parking Director. He was the city Financial Officer, then got fired and sued. Now he’s on the Hudson County payroll after making nice with the political bosses there. Doesn’t Lenz also count… Read more »

Member
5 years 4 months ago

He isn’t a teet sucker here in Hoboken and those are the teet suckers who in the 4th ward special election I worry about.[quote comment=”197660″]You may be right matt_72, I really don’t know. I’m not one of the political nerds (sorry) on this board. However, shouldn’t you hold Lenz to the same standard? Isn’t he feeding at the trough, too? Everything I’ve read about the guy is he’s been using politics to get paid for a long time. He got paid to work on Dave Roberts’ campaign, then he wanted to be Parking Director. He was the city Financial Officer,… Read more »

Member
krewedetat
5 years 4 months ago

Because Hudson County is a model of efficiency? Matt, please get a clue. [quote comment=”197664″]He isn’t a teet sucker here in Hoboken and those are the teet suckers who in the 4th ward special election I worry about.[/quote]

Member
5 years 4 months ago

Hudson county may not be the model of efficiency but I don’t see hundreds of inefficient workers backing Lenz and hoping to pump up the budget and tax bills even further. I do have a clue and the clue I am getting is the city workers all back Timmay. They also represent 70% of our budget. So why in the world would I vote for a candidate backed by the very people who get the majority of the budget & keep clamoring for more? If I want less spending wouldn’t it be smarter to push for the guy the city… Read more »

Member
Socc12
5 years 4 months ago

News flash, majority of the elks are city workers and if not former ones. Mr. Lenz collects two helath care plans and two salaries from the taxpayer. Matt the county’s budget increased 12 million dollars this year and Hoboken will pay for half of it. Is that fair for the taxpayers of hoboken. Thank Lenz, Zimmer and Marsh. They have a wonderful relationship with the county. Reform please. Self serving. Zimmer supporters are jumping ship everyday. [quote comment=”197672″]Hudson county may not be the model of efficiency but I don’t see hundreds of inefficient workers backing Lenz and hoping to pump… Read more »

Member
mickey finn
5 years 4 months ago

matt, get your head out of your ass! lenz is a self-serving, corrupt-as-the-day-is long piece of trash. he has made a career of jumping fences and working the system. he is hated by most people because he tries to be everyone’s friend, while at the same time, stab them in the back. name one thing that he and zimmer did, that so far, has been a savings to the tax payer. he advised her on the municipal garage debacle, well, you and i will paying for this one for yrs. to come. tell me something matt? if lenz is so… Read more »

Member
5 years 4 months ago

I could care less if he is a complete jerk. I don’t need to like any politician because I don’t plan on hanging out w/ any of them. I just need to like what they stand for b/c all I care about is what they do when they attend those CC meetings. And from what I have seen it is pretty obvious Lenz doesn’t stand for out of control spending. He also does not stand for waste, fraud, abuse, selling the town out to developers or financial gimmickry. He also doesn’t stand for voter fraud, purchasing votes (I notice Tim… Read more »

Member
mickey finn
5 years 4 months ago

WOW MATT!!!… YOU’RE MORE OF A LENZ FAN THAN HIS FAMILY IS!!! keep running his campaign matt! w/ you as his rally-boy, he definitely won’t win! everyone on here knows what a useless bag of wind you are, and now, w/ your public endorsement of LENZ, you just sealed his fate. i love you for that! keep up the good work!! occhipinti is a shoe-in now!!!! way 2 tip your hand matt! you keep going off about unions… the more babble that spews from your mouth, the more you prove what little you know about the unions in hoboken. what… Read more »

Member
xxrjxx
5 years 4 months ago

How can you know what he stands for other than his own self-interest? This just means he’ll go whichever way the wind is blowing at the time. Lacking a consistent underlying approach and any measure of predictability isn’t what a vote should be based on nor support given. [quote comment=”197890″]I could care less if he is a complete jerk. I don’t need to like any politician because I don’t plan on hanging out w/ any of them. I just need to like what they stand for b/c all I care about is what they do when they attend those CC… Read more »

Member
5 years 4 months ago

If you read my post carefully you’d notice I pretty much accuse Tim of selling himself out too. Both of them are focused on their own interests. But Lenz sold himself out to the taxpayers, Tim to the tax takers. Lenz can’t just flip flop on that position unless he wants to be a 1 hit wonder any more than Tim can. Candidates who completely flip flop their position & loyalties tend to lose their base. Both have higher aspirations than the Hoboken CC. I can trust that both candidates won’t flip flop on their base.[quote comment=”197910″]How can you know… Read more »

Member
mickey finn
5 years 4 months ago

you heard it here… after lenz loses, broom hilda appoints him to replace sonny liston as business administrator… sonny liston then replaces alicea as public safety director. alicea will be kicked to the curb as soon as he fails to deliver the vote for lenz. :roll: [quote comment=”197913″]If you read my post carefully you’d notice I pretty much accuse Tim of selling himself out too. Both of them are focused on their own interests. But Lenz sold himself out to the taxpayers, Tim to the tax takers. Lenz can’t just flip flop on that position unless he wants to be… Read more »

Member
Socc12
5 years 4 months ago

Matt, your comment is a mockery and an absolute insult to the intelligence of the people of Hoboken. Which leads me to believe you are nothing more than a paid blogger or Mr. Lenz himself. “I look at financial statements all day”. Matt, your are online making comments and involving yourself in arguments all day. If you were employed by me, you would be fired. All one has to do is look in the past to realize who Lenz really is. History does not lie; Matt you do. Who is the only elected official having to vacate their position on… Read more »

Member
5 years 4 months ago

411 knows what IP address I post from. If I were Lenz, he’d have blocked me 4 years ago. As for the Soares appointment, pardon me for being on vacation when that went down. Can’t say as I was a fan but can’t say as I am terribly worried about 1 guy making a pittance on some board either. He might be qualified, he might not, didn’t follow it b/c I was out of town so just don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other. Don’t really care either b/c whomever got put on that board would… Read more »

Member
blahblahblah
5 years 4 months ago

You know, I been away on business and I come back and you are still spitting out the side of your neck. Hey Matt, Currently there are 490 homes for sale in Hoboken with the avg sale price of 533,737. I will tell you this, if the taxes for such a price isnt at least 12G you are getting over cause that is about where mine is. And I can honestly say, I have superior service for that amount. I know folks who are paying more in other tiowns and sale prices are far less and they are lucky they… Read more »

Member
Socc12
5 years 4 months ago

Matt the amount we pay to the county is a huge number. The garage is a huge number. I am not attacking Lenz council seat which is a small number. I am criticizing his past and present actions. [quote comment=”197917″]411 knows what IP address I post from. If I were Lenz, he’d have blocked me 4 years ago.As for the Soares appointment, pardon me for being on vacation when that went down. Can’t say as I was a fan but can’t say as I am terribly worried about 1 guy making a pittance on some board either. He might be… Read more »

Member
5 years 4 months ago

The spending at the county level is an issue when it is a county election, not a city one. It not only is a non-issue during the city elections, it is a distraction from the real issues. And when it comes to what we pay towards the county portion of the bill, if you don’t like that then how about you petition the state to deep six the equalization ratio or move to a town that pays less. How much we pay towards the county is mandated by some stupid law that adjusts the county portion of property taxes by… Read more »

Member
Keen Observer
5 years 4 months ago

My my, my, how the reformers become worse than those they “reform.” Lenz gobbled up$150,000 of the taxpayers money in a lawsuit for losing a political job, then jumped to join the mighty corrupt Hudson democratic machine by getting a county job. But, he will still win if Zimmer gets her vote out. After all, Raia and Belfiore will be spending their time fighting over control of the street money rather than campaigning and the mayor is already buying votes in the ward with grants and contributions. As for Jake Stuvier, he becomes the freeholder candidate if Lenz wins. In… Read more »

Member
hobores
5 years 4 months ago

Agreed. from all i have heard, he is great at picking up the insecure minds, fluffing their ego, making them feel important and then getting them to do his bidding. those who see through him don’t want to ever talk to him. but then again, there’s a long list of those who go along with his ‘vision’, ‘strategy’ and all the other terms he throws around.

Member
jc5201
5 years 4 months ago

That’s a good, fair take on the race, 411.

Member
truth1
5 years 4 months ago

Is this Republican’s a Paul Swibinski move ❓ lol 😀

Member
truth1
5 years 4 months ago

As a local observer, it appears that this person”s entry is a ‘double edged sword’ and if planned by one of the heavy’s (excuse the pun), could very well backfire against either one of them. My mention of Paul S. was just to add some institutiional memory (levity), that Paul S. has represented the county, Pete C., Beth M. (and many others) and lately the Hob. PBA. 😛 Thanks 411.

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