Fourth Ward Race – Archive
Here is where all the previous updates for the Fourth Ward Hoboken City Council Race are. News items, updates, videos and press releases from March 15, 2007 through September 27, 2007. All the latest updates, as well as ALL comments are located here: Fourth Ward Race. Comments are closed on this archived post.
Round 3 in Ward 4 continues to get statewide attention on political news and blog sites. Former Hoboken Reporter scribe Tom Jennemann is now working for NJPols.com. He revisits his old beat in an article called:
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Vote, Vote Again
Here are some excerpts:
Zimmer said that holding a special election is a better option than parading voters before a judge for what she said were just minor “innocent and understandable” technicalities. She said that she would rather go door-to-door to talk with local residents about issues such as flooding and creating parks instead of spending that time having her lawyers cross-examine those very same residents on the witness stand.
Campos told NJpols that he anticipates that voters will remain engaged, despite the meandering road to get to this point… He added that his campaign strategy will change in at least one way. Zimmer’s choice to sit on the council for two months gives her a record that he can attack…
Campos’ comment alluded to another major aspect of the election, which has implications that go beyond the ward’s borders. The race is seen as a proxy battle in Hudson County’s ongoing political civil war between the HCDO and the upstart Democrats for Hudson County, which are challenging the long-entrenched HCDO for control of county politics.
Meanwhile, PoliticsNJ.com resumed its coverage in a piece called:
Something rare in Hudson: a local race in November
Matt Friedman paints a picture of class warfare in the Fourth Ward, with Campos exuding bravado as he stands at 6th and Jackson. You get a very different sense of the event from this story than you do from the Jersey Journal’s coverage, which made it appear as though Campos was trying to bridge a gap between the HHA and the Velocity. Instead, Friedman says Campos wanted to draw attention to the Projects behind him, not the condos in front of him:
“That’s my ward, that’s what I represent,” he told the cameraman, pointing to the drab brick building… “Is Hoboken going to be a community that’s welcoming of diversity, or is Hoboken going to be a community of just the affluent?”
There is some irony here considering one of Campos’ biggest campaign contributors – developer Adam Mermelstein – is building “Luxury Condos” just across the street from the HHA. PoliticsNJ continues…
To Campos, Zimmer’s decision not to take him on in court was no magnanimous gesture. Rather, he said, it showed that Zimmer did not want to face his multiple charges of electoral misconduct. Zimmer, in turn, said that Campos has been going door-to-door with former Jersey City Mayor Gerry McCann to “take this election through intimidation.”
Councilman Peter Cammarano, a Campos ally and election lawyer, called Zimmer’s agreement to drop the runoff election results “bizarre,” saying he could only identify two cases in the history of the state where an incumbent agreed to give up his or her post and hold another election. “The fact of the matter is innocent people don’t plea bargain,” said Cammarano.
Campos and Cammarano sought to portray her as a pawn of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, noting political donations from Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.
But Zimmer says she has nothing to do with the HCDO… Sure, Tom DeGise showed up to her campaign headquarters on the night of the run off election, and the HCDO voiced support for her. But ultimately, it comes down to that old maxim: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. “You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that phrase,” said Zimmer.
Others say those who repeatedly whispered this phrase into her ear did Zimmer a disservice, and that she ignored those who warned allowing the historically corrupt HCDO to get involved with her independent campaign would lead to trouble.
The fourth ward votes a third time November 6th, and the Garden State is watching.
9/24/2007 Update 2:
Chris Campos’ ELEC report is now finally available.
A reader contributed a document, along with analysis. “Colored entries indicate new or repeat contributors.”
Check out the PDF of Chris Campos’ ELEC Reports.
More from the Political Columns
The 4th ward race was again featured in the weekend newspaper political columns, but not as prominently as last week. The JJ’s Political Insider column described the scene at a press conference held Thursday at 6th and Jackson, between the Hoboken Housing Authority projects and the Velocity condo complex. Agustin Torres writes:
“Campos feels he has to make inroads within Zimmer’s base of newcomers… Much of the press conference had Campos and Councilman at Large Peter Cammarano arguing that Zimmer stole the election using illegal tactics orchestrated by the Hudson County Democratic Organization. Cammarano said there have been only three other cases in New Jersey political history where a candidate had to vacate a seat.
Zimmer has denied the charges and any association with the HCDO. She also accuses the Campos campaign of dirty tricks of its own, including evidence that “many people had voted despite not living in the 4th Ward. While we believe that these illegal voters were overwhelmingly Campos supporters, given the secret voting machine ballot, there is no way to prove it.
Zimmer also has charged that Mr. Campos hired former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann, who served three years in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud, to harass and intimidate people who voted in the election by mail. She noted that Mr. Campos and Mr. McCann are scheduled to appear in court in Jersey City next week, as a result of a criminal harassment complaints brought by several 4th Ward voters.”
Al Sullivan took a different angle on the 4th ward race in the local paper’s “Between The Lines” column. Zimmer was warned to keep the HCDO as far away from her independent campaign as possible, and continues to deal with questions about why she accepted help from them anyway.
Sullivan looks at the continued fallout from the HCDO’s involvement in the campaigns of Zimmer and 5th ward councilman Peter Cunningham, involvement Sullivan (and 3rd ward councilman Michael Russo) are now using to try to taint “reformers” on the school board as well. Sullivan writes:
“Some of the reformers backing Dawn Zimmer against Chris Campos in a special election to become 4th ward councilperson in Hoboken have been selling the idea that Hudson County politics will not play a part. The reformers built bridges with the HCDO in last May’s municipal elections and again in the runoff elections in June. They dismissed later council votes that restored a contract to the HCDO-connected law firm of Florio-Kenny as insignificant. They claimed the vote was merely to handle old cases that were still pending. But some observers are concerned about a similar vote by the Hoboken Board of Education may be a sign that the HCDO may well indeed be funding Zimmer’s campaign. Four reformers on the school board approved the contract.”
The truth is the newest Florio-Kenny contracts probably have little to do with whether or not a city council or school board member has a deal with the HCDO. However, it does show the deal former state assembly candidate Carol Marsh brokered to recruit Hoboken newcomers to get in bed with the HCDO continues to haunt those who took their advice.
The Political Columnists Weigh In
Zimmer vs. Campos Round 3 is the top story in this weekend’s political newspaper columns. The headline on the Jersey Journal Political Insider column is “4th Ward re-runoff looks to be surreal mudbath”
Writer Agustin Torres focused on Dawn Zimmer, printing several quotes from her and none from Chris Campos. Zimmer attacked Campos for not dealing with the flooding issue and the raw sewage in the streets. She described her opponent as someone who “believes there can never be too many condos.”
“Campos will have to hear about his driving-while-under-the-influence stop in Manhattan, where his court hearing has been postponed several times. He will be called a sniveling whiner who had to seek help from an “out-of-towner,” former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann, who in turn is described as a felon and a type of Chupacabra that feeds off befuddled helpless seniors and the nursing home weak.
Zimmer is under the shadow of “Why did she step down from her ‘won’ council seat?” They will answer that question by saying she would rather give an election another shot than see some of her campaign workers face the possibility of fines and jail time for alleged election law violations – buying votes, phony absentees, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
While Campos is being painted as an ungrateful “son” of lame duck Mayor David Roberts and a former beneficiary of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Zimmer is already being called a fallen reformer who sold her soul to the HCDO for its backing.”
Al Sullivan: Do-over will be expensive
The Hoboken Reporter’s Between The Lines column also leads off with the 4th ward rerun. It begins with the line: “If you aren’t sick of hearing the names Dawn Zimmer and Chris Campos yet, you soon will be.”
“While Campos has produced significant evidence of irregularities in the handling of some absentee ballots, he seemed to be unable to come up with the smoking gun that would prove voter fraud. While some people in the Zimmer camp claim there were tainted votes for Campos as well, their case is even weaker.
The election comes at a lull in the election cycle, yet at a time when there is increasing tension between the longtime Hudson County Democratic Organization – which will likely throw its support behind Zimmer again – and state Assemblyman and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, whose new county organization, Democrats for Hudson County, will likely continue to support Campos.”
Zimmer vs. Campos or HCDO vs. DFHC?
This is where the columnists go in different directions. While Sullivan sees the Zimmer vs. Campos developing into a DFHC vs. HCDO battle, Torres has another view:
“For now, as this columnist sees it, the 4th Ward race does not mean that much to either the HCDO or its civil war opponent, Democrats for Hudson County. A loss or win still means a (Hoboken City Council) majority for the DFHC. Any involvement by either side would mean the fighting is much more personal than anyone realizes. For the county pols, the priority is the battle is for freeholder seats.”
Back in the Reporter, Sullivan also notes the upcoming battle over the County Board of Freeholders:
“The special election in Hoboken will also foreshadow a more obvious struggle for control of the county when Stack and the HCDO clash in next June’s Democratic primary to elect county freeholders. If Stack can get five of his own candidates elected, he will go a long way to stripping the HCDO’s patronage mill of county jobs.”
Oh, and here’s a Cablevision news report pretty much covering part of what’s already been seen here, except edited for time.
Hoboken continues to be abuzz about Dawn Zimmer’s agreement to vacate her City Council seat rather than go to trial to answer allegations made by Chris Campos. Today’s editorial in the Jersey Journal takes another look at the situation:
Stick to the issues
Friday, September 14, 2007
There is still no winner of the 4th Ward City Council seat in Hoboken, since Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli decided Monday that he did not want to declare a winner in a messy lawsuit asserting election shenanigans. Instead, the judge pressured litigants and candidates Christopher Campos and Dawn Zimmer to agree to a third election showdown in November.
Since it would have served the public to uncover just who did what in order prevent similar tactics being used in the future, we are stuck with a possibility of a repeat of illegal and ethically stunted activities. It seems no one wants to shine any light on antics that have become standard, though unacknowledged, practices during Hudson County elections.
As for the do-over election, supporters for both candidates have immediately begun attacking their opponents’ characters and taunting those who take exception to the characterizations. It is this anger and emotion that fed “alleged” activities and eventually another expensive runoff.
Here is a novel suggestion for the candidates: Why not take the short time available for campaigning to discuss issues?
— Jersey Journal Editorial Board
See previous interviews and a copy of the court order below.
9/12/2007 Update 2:
Here’s a copy of yesterday’s court order:
Hoboken411 had a chance to interview both Chris Campos and Dawn Zimmer on video yesterday. They were essentially asked the same core questions regarding the previous and upcoming elections.
Here are both of their segments you won’t see anywhere else, but on Hoboken411.com:
As Hoboken411 predicted FIRST back on July 9th, there will be a new election in the Fourth Ward. Today attorneys for Dawn Zimmer and Chris Campos have issued a joint statement that says:
Dawn Zimmer and Christopher Campos Agree to a Special Election
The court challenge to Hoboken’s 4th Ward City Council election has been resolved. By mutual agreement of the parties, a special election will be held on November 6, 2007, allowing the voters of the 4th Ward to decide, once and for all, who their councilperson should be.
Given the closeness of the election, the parties have agreed to this new election so that, the people, rather than a court, will make the final decision as to whether Dawn Zimmer or Christopher Campos will represent the people of the 4th Ward.
Alexander W. Booth
(For Christopher Campos)
William W. Northgrave
(For Dawn Zimmer)
What could have happened in court?
It appears both Zimmer and Campos have come to the conclusion that going to court and airing all the dirty laundry of the runoff election would be bad for both sides. If the Judge determined there was fraud on the part of the HCDO and other supporters of Zimmer, but none on the part of Campos, he could have awarded the election to Campos outright.
If the Judge determined Campos did not have enough proof of fraud, Campos would have lost his challenge and Zimmer would have kept the seat.
If the judge determined after a long, gory trial process that there was enough evidence to show fraud on BOTH the Zimmer and Campos sides, he would have no choice but to call for a new election.
The only reasonable explanation for the “mutual agreement” today is that both Zimmer and Campos concluded there was enough questionable activity on both sides about to come out in a public court session, that the best course of action was not to “peel back the scab” of Hoboken fourth ward politics for all to see, and just agree to hold the new election that the Judge would have most certainly have ordered after hearing all the evidence from both sides.
As a former HCDO member, Campos went into this challenge knowing that the HCDO’s involvement in the Zimmer campaign’s absentee ballot drive would likely turn up at least 8 questionable ballots to close the gap on the election (if not many more).
Former Jersey City mayor Gerry McCann went on a crusade to find people who fraudulently voted for Zimmer on orders from the HCDO. Once that effort began to bear fruit, supporters of Zimmer began to gather evidence of potential fraud on the Campos side. As the heat turned up on Campos and his supporters, including Carmelo Garcia and Peter Cammarano, the decision was made that it was better to fight another day than to reveal to the world all the gory details of Fourth Ward fraud.
CORRECTION: Judge Maurice Gallipoli’s Court Clerk confirmed it was rescheduled to START the 18th, not the 20th. No reason was given, other than I should contact the Plantiff’s attorney Alexander Booth for details. The continuation of the case (witness testimony, etc) will continue on the 20th.
The Campos vs. Zimmer “election fraud” case has been postponed again. This case is now scheduled to be heard
Thursday September 20th TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 18th and NOT this upcoming Monday September 10th.
In similar news, Chris Campos’ trial date for his DUI traffic stop in NYC in January is scheduled for September 17th. It will be interesting to see if he has that date pushed back for a 4th time or if he finally faces the music for his driving through the red light, being pulled over and being charged with be DUI.
Word on the street is that all absentee ballots will get tossed and the judge will order that the election get held for the (gasp) third time this coming September.
Not for nothing, but if this is the case, why don’t they do a little planning so that taxpayer money doesn’t get wasted like this again. Create a precedent that VALID ID BE REQUIRED in order to vote. Not sure how they’d handle this with regards to absentee ballots, but they need to figure out a way to prevent fraudulent voting. What’s to stop them from having elections till Kingdom Come?
What do you think will happen at the end of June? Will Campos win his case? What would be the outcome if there is indeed a third election? Are people sick of voting and will just throw in the towel and not care?
6/29/2007 “Fight to the death” Update:
Campos effort to stop Zimmers swearing in rejected
Hoboken Councilman Chris Campos failed today in his effort to block Dawn Zimmer, who defeated him in this month’s election, from being sworn in Sunday.
Campos, who is challenging the results of the election, will have his day in court, but only after Zimmer is a sitting councilwoman.
State Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, sitting in Jersey City, denied Campos’ request of an injunction blocking Zimmer from taking office but he did grant a trial date of July 30 to hear arguments that absentee ballots awarded to Zimmer should be thrown out.
Zimmer beat Campos by eight votes but lost the machine count. Her 100-vote margin of victory in absentee votes put her over the top.
Galliopli ruled that In order to postpone Zimmer’s swearing, Campos would have had to show her swearing in would cause “irreperable” harm, which Gallipoli said he could not show. If Campos were to successfully challenge the election results, Campos would simply take Zimmer’s place, Gallipoli said.
Attorney Alex Booth, representing Campos, said the swearing in should be postponed until after the trial due to an important July 18 council meeting, which cannot be pushed back. Decisions made at this meeting, Booth said, could not be changed even if Campos were eventually reinstated as councilman in the fourth ward.
The recount is complete. There was one error, in which Campos received a vote meant for Zimmer. So she won by EIGHT votes, not SIX.
We’ll see what he tried to do next. He’s running out of time.
6/25/2007 Cry Baby Update:
Campos asks for recount
It’s official – Hoboken City Councilman Christopher Campos has asked the courts to order a recount in the runoff election for the Fourth Ward council election.
State Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, sitting in Jersey City, held a hearing today and ordered a full recount Wednesday afternoon, sources said. The Hudson County Board of Elections was served Friday after Campos’ attorney, Alex Booth, filed for a recount.
Campos lost to Dawn Zimmer by six votes – 892 to 886, including absentee and provisional ballots.
Zimmer certified winner, Campos to challenge. From NJ.com.
Campos will challenge his election defeat
Dawn Zimmer is now the official winner of Hoboken’s Fourth Ward City Council runoff, having been certified earlier today, officials said.
But the man she defeated, incumbent Councilman Christopher Campos, said he will ask for a recount tomorrow.
City Clerk James Farina said he certified Zimmer as the winner by six votes, with 892 votes to incumbent Councilman Chris Campos’ 886 votes, including absentee and provisional ballots.
Campos said he also plans to question the validity of some absentee ballots, which tipped the vote in Zimmer’s favor.
Farina also certified Peter Cunningham as the winner of the Fifth Ward seat on Friday, with 636 votes to Peter “Perry” Belfiore’s 524 votes. Councilman Angelo “Nino” Giacchi won the Sixth Ward, 441 to 325 over Thomas Foley.
The new council members will be sworn July 1 at noon at City Hall.
Read the previous history below.
After throwing out a few ballots, they counted 45 of them. Campos got 23, Zimmer got 22.
Zimmer won by 6 total votes. And they say it doesn’t count when you vote. Yikes!
Too Close To Call in the Fourth Ward
The preliminary results in the fourth ward stunned Hoboken’s new and old residents alike. It could be weeks before this election is settled. The unofficial tally as of election night is 870 for Dawn Zimmer and 863 for Chris Campos. Just 7 votes separate the two candidates, which means a judge will have to rule on the fate of 59 Provisional Ballots before the race is officially decided. A provisional ballot is given to a prospective voter who comes to the polls expecting to vote, only to be told there is a problem that keeps the poll workers from allowing them to vote on the machine. The scenario that most often leads to a provisional ballot is when a voter is not listed in the voter books provided by the board of elections. Normally attorneys from both sides issue challenges to the provisional ballots that a judge rules on. The final number of provisional ballots allowed by the judge is then added to the total from the machines (813 Campos, 725 Zimmer) and the number of absentee ballots (145 Zimmer, 50 Campos).
However, if Zimmer continues to have the most votes after the provisionals are counted, Campos could launch a court challenge against the results on the basis of allegations of absentee voter fraud. Campos and Peter Cammarano already laid the groundwork for such a challenge by bringing charges of absentee voter intimidation against Zimmer campaign worker Doug Snyder following the May 8th election, a charge Snyder strongly denies.
The preliminary fourth ward results shocked election watchers for many reasons. On May 8th 1542 votes were counted in the fourth ward, more votes than any other in the city. That tally actually went up to an astounding 1733 on Tuesday, a gain of nearly 200 votes. That is especially surprising when the first ballot included a four-way race, and the weather included downpours that would otherwise keep voters away from the polls. Normally a runoff tally goes down in that situation, not up. On May 8th Zimmer received just over 600 votes, which grew to 870 this week. Campos went up from about 740 on May 8th to 863. Zimmer won the first and second districts, while Campos won the third and fourth. Both candidates got a big vote out, but Campos is sure to question the validity of Zimmer’s unprecedented pile of absentee votes.
The fourth ward has traditionally been won through the expenditure of large piles of cash. Nobody knows this better than former fourth ward councilman Andrew Amato, who was one of Zimmer’s closest advisors, and can be credited with bringing many BNR Italian/senior citizen votes to the challenger’s camp. Longtime Hudson County political player Eugene Drayton also played a key role for Zimmer in tapping the African-American population in the fourth ward that has taken a back seat in Hoboken to the Hispanic base of Campos and Ramos. Last week Drayton was also key in the victory of HCDO candidate for State Assembly L. Harvey Smith in Jersey City.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise endorsed Zimmer, and likely had a role in sending the HCDO campaign workers who worked for Dawn in the fourth ward. Assemblyman Brian Stack also sent down extra troops to join the many paid workers for Chris Campos, who donned red shirts. Zimmer’s wore green, which may clash with yellow shirts DeGise had the HCDO workers wear in Hoboken last week.
Charges and counter charges of voter fraud will surely being flying in the days ahead. The fourth ward has turned out to be full of surprises, with more possibly yet to come.
Read previous updates, see videos, etc., below:
Video evidence of campaign signs being put on trees. Submitted by reader “Outsider”… FYI, use http://www.divshare.com to submit files. They ROCK.
This picture was submitted by 411 reader FAP.
He said: “Campos has turned out his people in force and unless people vote on their way home WE WILL have four more years of Campos. That’s four more years of flooding, four more years of having park space turned into high rises, four more years of increased taxes (and that drives rents up), and four more years of having a councilman sneer at newer residents.
We get the government we deserve. We have until 8PM to decide what type of government that is.”
While I was out covering “Ladies Night Out” last night, I had received this email from a reader complaining about the noise from a certain candidate:
For the past two hours (at least) Chris Campos’ campaign has been blasting a recording of what he’s done for the 4th ward. While he has a right to speak his mind, it sounds like noise pollution to me. It’s really loud and not what I want to hear at 10pm. I’d even say he’s disturbing the peace with his truck or propaganda.”
Reader sent this picture and video in and writes:
“Saw this parked in front of Luca Brasi’s Thursday night and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Perhaps feeling the first ward doesn’t get enough Campos love he sent his rolling commercial on a mission to annoy us. Or maybe Campos just isn’t exactly sure where the 4th ward is. Perhaps if he spent more time in it and less time partying in NYC he’d be for familiar with the area he represents.”
Here are the final results of the 4th Ward election.
Only 137 votes separated the top two candidates.
5/6/2007 Update 2:
From Zimmer’s campaign headquarters:
“The Dawn Zimmer campaign headquarters, at 411 First St, was vandalized last night as unknown assailants cut the name ‘Zimmer’ off the banner. A life long resident stated that “in his memory vandalizing a campaign headquarters was something that had never been done before in Hoboken, even in the most bitterly contested campaigns.” This was the desperate act of a desperate candidate. The act speaks for itself and we are confident that the voters of the 4th Ward will stand up and vote for the right person to bring leadership, civility and transparency on this Tuesday.
DOUG SNYDER, Campaign Manager”
Being so close to the election, the campaign dirty tricks seem to be sinking to new lows. Last night, Zimmer’s campaign headquarters was vandalized. Additionally, it seems as if the incumbent Chris Campos has not followed the election laws very well, not filing his ELEC reports or filing for “challengers”. This seems odd for someone with previous election experience.
Pictures and statement to follow later today.
4/27/2007 Interesting Update:
Found this thread on BlueJersey.com.. “Scott Shields” who seems to be a Chris Campos consultant sheds some light on their campaign tactics.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS POSTING?? I personally see political smear-tactics looking to dismiss viable candidates with tangible campaign platforms against the “machine”. Not sure about the rest of you, but don’t you think Zimmer’s concerns are a mirror-image of the rest of the residents in that ward?
I live in a different Ward, so I leave it up to the readers who live in the 4th Ward.
“I admit to being totally biased, but what exactly does Dawn Zimmer “get” exactly? As far as I’ve observed, her entire candidacy is based on chicken little-ism, trying to claim that Hoboken is going to be washed away, ala NOLA. Well, the rains came (the worst in 30 years — thanks again, global warming!) and the 4th ward certainly experienced flooding, but it definitely wasn’t the Katrina-level disaster Dawn had been predicting (or was it ‘hoping for’?).
On top of that, her repeated ‘insider’ claims that there was no NJT plan to upgrade the city’s sewers have been proven completely false. Is this something she’s apologizing for or backing off from? No. Now she’s claiming that the NJT plans aren’t the issue. Well, if they weren’t the issue, why was she so outraged when she believed (or at least claimed) that no plans existed? You can’t have it both ways.
As I said, I may be biased, but there have been times in the past that my clients’ opponents have made me sit up and take notice. (The incredibly capable staff at the Wildes, Zisa & Wilson campaign, for example, were not folks I looked forward to facing off against.) Dawn Zimmer is not one of those opponents. As you yourself admit Roger, she’s a little green. I just don’t think the Hoboken City Council — especially under the present circumstances — is the place for on-the-job training.”
Discuss anything generally related to the Fourth Ward and the upcoming May 8th, 2007 election here.
News or press releases regarding each candidate can be seen on their respective pages.
3/29/2007: Updated Ward Map. Get full sized original HERE.