Where do Zimmer and Cunningham stand?

5/31/2008 Update:

Peter and Dawn assume a position


Following Hoboken411’s continuing coverage of the County Freeholder primary, city council members Peter Cunningham and Dawn Zimmer have ended their silence… well, sort of. Zimmer chose not to share her endorsement with Hoboken411 (but we have it anyway) while Cunningham sent out a non-endorsement.

First, this email from Peter:

hoboken-peter-cunningham-small.jpg“Dear Editors of the Jersey Journal, Hoboken Reporter and H411,

For those with an interest, I have not made a public endorsement for Freeholder, or any other candidate(s) for higher office, and do not expect to make one at this time. While the Freeholder seat – 5th District plays an important role in the allocation of county funds, maintenance of roads, parks and other public facilities, I feel it is important to me, my constituents and the City of Hoboken that I remain objective and vow to work with anyone of these fine candidates for this office. I wish them all the best of luck.

Peter Cunningham
5th Ward City Councilman”

You read that right. The councilman for the ward with the most “reform-minded” voters in the city is not endorsing a candidate for Freeholder. This decision has stunned people in “reform” circles who remember the then little-known Cunningham supported Ines Garcia-Keim five years ago for the fifth ward seat he now holds, and just three years ago supported her bid for Council-at-Large.

Now, Cunningham apparently sees little difference between Garcia-Keim, Anthony Romano, and Frank Raia, saying he “vows to work with anyone (sic) of these fine candidates.” Do the voters of the fifth ward really see these candidates as equals? We’ll see for sure on Tuesday.

What a difference six months makes

After her election last November, right here on Hoboken411 Dawn Zimmer wrote:

hoboken-dawn-zimmer-small.jpg“I want to thank Hoboken411 for its coverage of the heated 4th Ward battle and for providing a place for everyone to air their opinions on the issues. It was tough to see my name sometimes bounced around like a ping-pong ball, but after three rounds in the ring my skin has this really tough texture to it.

Let’s face it, it’s hip to be on 411 and keep informed. A weekly paper just doesn’t have the same kind of energy as instant news and lively discussions. We appreciate all the work you do behind the scenes to keep the site updated with the latest news. And I know it has got to take a lot of effort to monitor some of those crazy bloggers. Through it all, your work has definitely increased voter participation in the 4th Ward!

I hope we can work together to get more of those young people to take a minute to unplug their iPods, so they can learn what’s happening in their neighborhood. If you live in Hoboken, you should vote in Hoboken, and your site is certainly helping to make that happen!

Thanks again.”
4th Ward Councilwoman Zimmer

Since then Dawn has been one of the council members who have frequently submitted information to 411 for publication to the widest audience in Hoboken. Just this past week I published two Zimmer releases on the city budget. As documented below, I have been asking for her freeholder endorsement since early last week, and gave her a second chance to send it Thursday. I didn’t want to report the (many) rumors that were floating around, and gave her chance after chance to be clear.

Dawn Zimmer Withholds Endorsement from Hoboken411

Each time I asked Dawn to give me a straight answer, she gave me an excuse. The most recent was that she was “really focused on the budget right now.” Well, apparently not so focused that she was unable to find time to write an endorsement letter for Frank “Pupie” Raia and send it to the newspaper in time for their Wednesday deadline. Zimmer chose not to share this information with 411, but many of her supporters have forwarded an email she sent to them Friday, which included over 600 words in support of Pupie.

Why didn’t Zimmer share her endorsement with Hoboken411? I’ll leave you to figure that out. All that was asked was for them to send in a 250-word endorsement. That is a lot less than Dawn sent to the hardly-read weekly paper she said “just doesn’t have the same kind of energy as instant news and lively discussions” as Hoboken411.

Why not just go on the record?

Councilwoman Zimmer is free to support anybody she wants, and just like the other council members, her position would have been published unedited and unobstructed. As for her reasons for supporting Raia, she apparently thought they weren’t important enough to share with you (the loyal readers) so I will respect her wishes and not publish them.

I don’t begrudge Dawn’s reasons for supporting Pupie, but I do take offense to her refusal to share them here. I was just trying to bring you the truth.

Read more about this little saga after the jump…


This week as I’ve been publishing the endorsements of city council members for their choice for County Freeholder some of you have been asking “Hey! Where’s Dawn Zimmer’s endorsement?” and “Whoa, hold on there 411. What about Peter Cunningham? This is a very important primary to choose the person who will represent us at the county level where one-third of our tax bill goes (and very little ever comes back).

You would think that with a three-way, winner-take-all race that Dawn and Peter would be anxious to share their views on the race. Well, at least I thought they would, and from the reaction I’ve been getting to the other endorsements, so do you.


Dawn and Peter’s first reactions

When I first posted the request, my message to the council members was very clear. I asked which candidate (if any) they were supporting, and offered an unedited message of no more than 250 words explaining why you support that candidate. Pretty straightforward, right? Ruben Ramos responded. So did Beth Mason. Other council members opted not to write an editorial, but still made it clear whom they stood with.

For some reason Dawn Zimmer and Peter Cunningham have decided not to stand up and be counted. Now, this is a big surprise to me since I have often published their views and letters to the public. Just this week two messages from Dawn, including one that Peter also had a hand in. Why now are they being cryptic with where they stand?

I just want to end the confusion!

When I first told you about my original request, I noted that in the weekly paper Candidate Frank Raia “mentioned his conversations with Dawn Zimmer and Peter Cunningham. That could lead some to believe they are supporting Raia, while others would expect them to be backing Garcia-Keim, who has a long history of reform activism in town. What’s the real story? I’m asking them to tell you.”

In response, Councilwoman Zimmer sent a note mostly about the city budget, and partially “applauding” Pupie Raia for his letter to the paper. I published Dawn’s concerns about the budget (her letter to DCA) separately per her request. Since her comment about Mr. Raia stopped short of being a specific endorsement, it was not published. When I asked her again specifically “Who are you supporting (or not) for Freeholder,” she replied that was “her position at the time.” Peter Cunningham didn’t respond at all.

So what’s a guy to do to get the truth?


(Zimmer and Cunningham, continued…)

Yesterday I tried one more time by sending out this email:

hoboken411-email-icon.jpgPeter and Dawn,

I have given you (and every other council member) the open opportunity to write a 250 word endorsement of the Freeholder candidate of your choice. The deadline was last Friday, but I am giving you one last shot to do this. If you choose to take me up on this offer your new deadline is 10pm tonight. Once again, the question is simple:

Which candidate (if any) are you supporting for County Freeholder?

Dawn, your first response did not comply with the simple question I asked you, so I’m asking again.

Peter, when I asked you face-to-face (twice) if you were working on this you said you knew when the deadline was. The deadline passed and I never got a response.

I gotta tell you guys I am going out on a limb to give you one last shot at this. Your decisions are your own, but if I don’t hear from you I am going to go with what I have. I’d prefer to “get it from the horse’s mouth” rather than rely on in-direct sources.

I hope to hear from you both by 10pm.

Thanks in advance.

When I say “out on a limb” it’s because I have already very publicly been unfairly accused of favoring these two after doing some minor, non-editorial outside website work for them during their campaigns last year. Allowing them another opportunity to respond could only get me in more trouble, right?

So, what did they say?

Peter Cunningham did not respond. Dawn Zimmer did, but refused to offer insight into her choice, saying she is “really focused on the budget right now.”

So what is the real story here? Why are these otherwise outspoken people being so shy with their thoughts? I’m asking because people want to know where they stand. I’ve heard some pretty wild rumors over the past few weeks, and I thought it was only fair that I try to get the truth from them. Hoboken411 readers have asked me where they stand.

What is Cunningham thinking?

Peter Cunningham is blessed to live in Hoboken’s cradle of progressive thinkers: The Fifth Ward. For decades fifth ward activists laid the groundwork for Cunningham’s victory, each time falling to entrenched incumbents. Among those who came close to winning the ward: Helen Manogue, John Branciforte, and Ines Garcia-Keim. They blazed the trail for Cunningham, yet he remains silent on this campaign.

Intentional or not, Cunningham’s continued silence may serve to help Anthony Romano and Frank Raia. This baffles many in the fifth ward who wonder why Peter hasn’t weighed in on such an important race, especially when one of the platforms in Cunningham’s campaign was complaining about the Northwest Redevelopment Zone that Raia and his Ursa/Tarragon partners have been developing.


Dawn Zimmer’s Dilemma

The fourth ward councilwoman has a more complicated nut to crack. On the one hand, Ines Garcia-Keim was helpful to her. In addition to running for council on many of the same issues two years earlier before anyone had heard of Dawn Zimmer, Ines also helped Dawn with Spanish language translations for her literature and reached out to many Spanish speakers in the fourth ward to support her quest against Chris Campos.

On the other side, you had Zimmer being led through the old-school Italian sections of the fourth ward hand in hand with Frank Raia, who was also very helpful with votes and street presence during the runoff and subsequent third election last November. The two were even seen in a political dirty-tricks video campaigning through the Hoboken Housing Authority together.

So, what now?

This is going to be a very close race, and the candidate with as little as 33.4% of the vote will be the winner. At this point I believe people have a right to know where their councilpersons stand on the issues, and I don’t think the request is unfair.

What are your thoughts? Please post in the comments section.

Leave a Reply

87 Comments on "Where do Zimmer and Cunningham stand?"

Sort by:   newest | oldest

I’d love to know red’s response to posts 84 and 85. Or if that’s too much, I’d love to know why redhaven didn’t attack Mason when Mason wasn’t endorsing a 4th ward candidate. It seems to me that red is part of the problem and not a part of the solution – too bad most of the reformers who backed Dawn are gone, so all we get to hear now is Red’s version of reality.


[quote comment=”85840″]”Councilwoman Zimmer(…)As for her reasons for supporting Raia, she apparently thought they weren’t important enough to share with you (the loyal readers). ”

Perhaps she and Cunningham were feeling a bit cynical about the way their words would have been spun? The editorializing here can be heavy-handed.[/quote]
Yea imagine that.


“Councilwoman Zimmer(…)As for her reasons for supporting Raia, she apparently thought they weren’t important enough to share with you (the loyal readers). ”

Perhaps she and Cunningham were feeling a bit cynical about the way their words would have been spun? The editorializing here can be heavy-handed.


The above post was mostly in response to Red’s post, #76, dont know how I screwed up the quotes.

[quote comment=”85801″][quote comment=”85792″]why didn’t Beth support Dawn? Because she was hedging….[/quote] Beth’s got her own agenda, as we now know. So, what, since Beth may have hedged, it’s justification for Peter?[/quote] I honestly didn’t care that Beth didn’t endorse and I don’t care that Peter’s not. What’s it matter to the average voter? [quote comment=”85807″]gmac17, maybe if you ever actually get to a city meeting or bump into Beth on the street you can ask her yourself. Mason gave Zimmer crucial early support, and when Zimmer sought support from some sketchy characters Mason steped away to protect her reputation. [quote comment=”85792″]why didn’t Beth support Dawn? Because she was hedging….[/quote] There was no hedging. Mason kept her hands clean by keeping them far away from the dirty campaigns of both fourth ward candidates. By the way, exactly when did Dawn endorse Beth anyway? Oh yeah, she didn’t. [/quote] You’re frothing at the mouth b/c Cunningham didn’t endorse anyone, but it’s TOTALLY ok that Mason didn’t. And don’t give me this crap above about Dawn not supporting Beth – Beth was sitting pretty on the council while Dawn was running for the second and third time, why would ANYONE running take the time to endorse another candidate (during the first race, which Beth won?). Answer: They wouldn’t. You play dirty pool Red and I am really sick of it. As for the “Dirty Campaign” allegations – I worked on Dawn’s campaign- and never saw anything dirty going on. Sketchy characters? Like who?… Read more »