Rubber Stamp vote appointed in Hoboken
Legality of Zimmer’s Doyle Vote Called Into Question
Last night, the Hoboken City Council voted to appoint local attorney Jim Doyle to fill the Council-At-Large Seat that was left vacant after Carol Marsh’s questionable resignation.
The appointment is governed by the Municipal Vacancy Law. It states that the seat must be filled by a majority vote of the remaining members of the Hoboken City Council and that the Mayor may only vote in the event of a tie.
The vote total was 4-2-1. The Mayor’s allies on the City Council, Bhalla, Mello, Cunningham, and Giattino voted for Doyle. Council members Castellano and Occhipinti voted against the appointment. Councilman Russo said he believed the seat should be filled through a Special Election and abstained after stating he was “neither voting yes or no.” Councilwoman Beth Mason was absent.
After the vote Councilman Cunningham asked Doyle to come forward to be sworn-in. Russo contended that appointment required a majority of the remaining members of the City Council, which would be 5 votes.
Corporation Counsel Melissa Longo disagreed stating that a “super majority” was not needed and in her opinion the vote was valid. However, Council President Cunningham then asked Mayor Zimmer to cast the 5th vote for Doyle, which led to further debate because the Mayor is only permitted to vote in the event of a tie.
After Doyle was sworn in Councilman Mello stated that he did not believe the Mayor’s vote was necessary. Castellano, Russo, and Occhipinti all repeatedly pointed out throughout the rest of the meeting that they believe Doyle is sitting on the City Council illegally and objected to him casting his vote.
Russo stated that the vote was illegal and the matter will likely be decided in court. Bhalla, who recently had his decision to serve as Mayor Zimmer’s personal attorney called into question, said Russo’s legal argument was laughable.
The Mayor and her Council allies were very quick to shut down the idea of having a Special Election to fill the seat. Last time the Mayor cast a vote to appoint Michael Lenz to the City Council he was soundly defeated at the polls in a Special Election several months later. Needless to say Zimmer was not leaving this to chance as her majority on the City Council hung in the balance.
Why does the Mayor think it is better to have 5 people vote to fill the seat instead of allowing thousands of Hoboken voters to do it themselves?Hoboken NJ