Fourth Ward Race
Note: All previous news updates, videos and press releases (3/15/2007 through 9/27/2007) for the Hoboken 4th Ward City Council elections have been moved here due to size. Please check that post for any historical information. All future updates (10/10/2007 going forward) and all previous and future comments will remain in this thread.
Here’s an article Tom Jennemann, former front-page reporter for the local paper, wrote about Dawn Zimmer’s campaign manager Jenny Davis. From NJPols.com.
First-Time Campaign Manager Runs Winning Campaign in a Vipers’ Nest
November 12, 2007
Hoboken, a city known for its hardball politics, mudslinging and dirty tricks, isn’t the easiest place to run winning campaigns. But Jenny Davis, a 29-year-old who was managing her first campaign, made it look trouble-free as she helped Dawn Zimmer, a political neophyte, win a seat on the Hoboken City Council.
Even though this was her first turn as a campaign manager, Davis did come with other political experience. She was a field organizer for seven years for the Interfaith Alliance, a progressive faith-based organization that advocates for voting and civil rights.
“I used to run issue campaigns, so I have experience in issue advocacy, but politics is certainly more interesting and something that I absolutely love,” Davis said. “Some people might think I’m crazy, but I’m OK with that.”
And Davis was lucky enough to pick an exciting race for her first. The Fourth Ward City Council election was this year’s version of the never-ending story as voters went to the polls on three separate occasions to choose between Zimmer, a portrait photographer and community activist, and Christopher Campos, a well-connected incumbent.
In the first election, on May 8, neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote. In the runoff, Zimmer won by a scant eight votes, but Campos challenged over a hundred absentee ballots, claiming they were improperly handled. Meanwhile, Zimmer claimed that many of the people who voted for Campos did not live in Hoboken. Instead of letting a judge pick a winner, the two agreed to a third election.
Zimmer brought in Davis for the third election. It was a decision that resulted in a victory, as Zimmer won by a tally of 1,070 votes to 956 votes.
“Our strategy wasn’t convoluted,” Davis told NJpols. “It was very basic. We took the issues that mattered and talked about them nonstop. We didn’t harass voters to vote for Dawn, but told them what they would get when they vote for her.”
Zimmer told NJpols that she would not have won without Davis’ efforts. “She was the key to me winning,” Zimmer said. “From my standpoint I feel like this was the first election that I was able to be totally focused on meeting people.”
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE AFTER THE JUMP.
Hoboken is traditionally a challenging city to campaign in because the Fourth Ward has a number of different constituencies, some of which don’t always get along. During the last two decades the city has seen an unprecedented development boom, which has driven up property values. But most of the city’s low-income and senior citizen projects are located in the Fourth Ward. The quick pace of gentrification has widened the sizable socio-economic rift between “new Hoboken” and “old Hoboken.”
Campos, who is of Puerto Rican heritage and spent some of his childhood living in the city’s housing projects, had a solid base with the housing authority and with born-and-raised Hoboken voters, who usually voted for the establishment politician.
Davis said that Zimmer’s campaign spent a significant amount of time talking to seniors and housing authority residents, who, in the past, have been taken for granted as a solid bloc of voters for the local machine.
“One of the things we did during this election was to hold a ‘Flood Forum,’ which had every single group in the Fourth Ward represented — seniors, the housing authority, the new Hobokenites [and] the born-and-raised residents,” Davis said. “We did not run a divisive campaign. I think Dawn humanized politics for them, which is an important step for Hoboken.”
Also, for Zimmer to win, she had to get the city’s yuppies to the polls, who have the reputation of being apathetic towards local politics.
“Part of the reason we won is that I was able to reach those voters, who normally only vote in the presidential election and don’t care about the City Council,” Zimmer told NJpols. “For the first time, we canvassed in a very professional way. We ran this campaign in a very organized way and Jenny was the one that facilitated everything from behind the scenes.”
But there was much more to the campaign than just dealing with the ward’s fractured demographics. During the third campaign, both candidates accused each other of unethical behavior or boorish behavior. Zimmer claimed that Campos and Jersey City Mayor Gerard “Jerry” McCann, a Campos supporter, of harassing residents of the Hoboken Housing Authority. A Zimmer supporter has filed harassment charges against Campos and McCann, who deny the charge.
Conversely, Zimmer has been accused of allegedly grabbing an 18-year-old’s wrist during an attempt to allegedly wrestle a camera off of him as he took pictures of her while she walked her dog. The cameraman, who is the brother of a Campos campaign worker, was attempting to snap a picture of Zimmer allegedly not picking up after her dog. The 18-year-old has filed simple assault charges against Zimmer, who has counter by filing a harassment compliant against to the picture-taker.
“They launched a lot of false attacks,” Davis said. “We just kept our eye on the ball. We did what we need to do to respond to some of these allegations, but for the most part our concern was talking to the people. In the end, the voters saw right through them.”
Part 2 of Charles Hack’s profiles of the two 4th Ward Candidates. From the Journal:
‘Career politicians’ have failed us, Zimmer says
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Dawn Zimmer says she’s running for the Fourth Ward City Council seat because “career politicians” are not representing the best interests of the residents.
She says city leaders should “focus on enhancing the quality of life of Hoboken’s citizens, not enhancing the bottom line of the developers and outside political organizations.”
The marathon race for the seat has been dogged by controversy every step of the way – even by Hudson County standards. Incumbent Christopher Campos lost a June runoff election and challenged the results in court, claiming irregularities in absentee ballots cost him victory. Zimmer agreed to vacate her council seat and run in a special election against Campos next Tuesday.
Zimmer said allegations of voter fraud are “categorically false” and part of a plan “to throw up enough smoke so that (Campos) could undermine the electoral process.” She said she agreed to a new election to “avoid a lengthy and costly trial.”
One of the most important issues facing the Fourth Ward is to ensure that large-scale development maintains Hoboken’s “small town” feel, Zimmer said.
She asserts that the Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition’s recently announced SW6 plan – which envisions low-density development, a 6-acre park and conforms with the Master Plan – will best accommodate families old and new in a “thriving neighborhood.” It also offers a solution to an area plagued with flooding, parking problems and traffic.
“We cannot let our neighborhood become a clone of the Jersey City waterfront, with high-rise after high-rise and not a park in sight,” Zimmer said.
Funding should be raised though grants, bonding and a new Open Space Fund she hopes voters will approve on Nov. 6., rather than “pleading with developers” for givebacks, she said.
Saying her campaign focuses attention on the flooding problem, Zimmer criticized the North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s recent announcement that it plans to install four new ejector pumps, calling it “a publicity stunt.” NJ Transit and the NHSA agreed to fund the new sewer line and pumps a decade ago as part of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, she said.
Zimmer says all new construction in Hoboken should be required to include a water retention system. She also touts a high-tech wireless solution that would detect potential clogs in the sewer lines, and manage the flow of water through a system of gates.
On the city’s affordable housing crunch, Zimmer said that developers should be required to contribute more low-cost housing for families, “in exchange for the windfalls they receive.”
Zimmer said there is a perception that Hoboken Housing Authority apartments are being allocated based on politics rather than the selection criteria required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Only then will confidence in the integrity of the HHA be restored,” she said.
The Journal’s Charles Hack has “profiled” both Chris Campos and Dawn Zimmer. Today’s profile is Campos, tommorrow is Zimmer. Share your opinions of this article in the comments section.
Campos points to his service to neighborhood
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Christopher Campos says he’s running in next month’s special election for the Fourth Ward City Council seat “to make life better for my neighbors and to make a real difference in my hometown.”
The marathon race began with campaigning early this year, a May election, then a runoff election against challenger Dawn Zimmer that he lost, controversy over absentee ballots and finally an unprecedented agreement in which Zimmer agreed to vacate her council seat and another runoff election is being held.
Campos has been dogged by talk of his DUI arrest in New York in January, but he says he hopes voters will focus on the issues – which he says are flooding problems, open space, parking and “opportunities for families.”
Campos endorses the Hoboken Southwest Park Coalition’s plan, “SW6: A Greener, Greater Hoboken,” to install water retention fields in the southwest portion of the city and wants it included in a Southwest Redevelopment proposal.
Campos, who served six years as councilman before Zimmer’s win, says the North Hudson Sewerage Authority’s plan to install a water ejection system will cure flooding problems “once and for all” and make “a huge difference in all our lives.”
Tied in with flooding, Campos said he wants a comprehensive development plan for the southwest area that protects the environment, open space and affordable housing. Campos opposes a building moratorium or “piecemeal development led by variances.” He also wants to make the ward more “family friendly,” with more parks and shopping, parking and safer pedestrian streets.
“This should be an area that residents can come to in order to grab a bite to eat, meet for coffee or work on their laptops in comfort,” he said.
Campos challenged Zimmer’s runoff election win in court, claiming that a dozen ballots for Zimmer were unfairly counted and that a dozen rejected votes for him should have been counted.
“An electorate that is well-informed of their voting rights and vigilant against threats to these Constitutional rights is the best antidote to the dirty campaign tactics we’ve recently been subjected to in Hoboken,” Campos said.
Campos, a Housing Authority commissioner, said he wants affordable housing integrated into mixed-income development – rather than concentrating it in isolated areas of the ward.
Taking credit for 100 new affordable homes in the northwest area of the city, he said 1118 Adams St. is a model for housing in the Fourth Ward.
As a commissioner, Campos also said that he helped end the corruption and mismanagement that left a $4.6 million deficit at the Hoboken Housing Authority.
“There must be zero tolerance for any malfeasance or corruption in all levels of government,” he said.
10/25/2007 Press Release:
Received this press release late, so it’s old news already.
Zimmer Blasts Campos team for Voter Suppression Effort
Repeating same McCann tactics that brought him previous $250,000 fine
Today Dawn Zimmer, candidate for 4th Ward City Council, called for Chris Campos and Jerry McCann to stop their harassment and voter suppression tactics in the 4th Ward.
“The tactics we continue to see by Mr. Campos, Mr. McCann, and others involved in their campaign, are a disgrace to the democratic process,” said Dawn Zimmer, who won the June 12th runoff by 8 votes. “The right to vote is an essential right for every American, and to purposefully intimidate, harass and or scare voters is not only illegal, it’s just plain wrong.”
Campos and McCann are falsely spreading the claim that individuals not listed on the HHA lease list cannot vote. McCann has also publicly blogged the names of voters whose eligibility he claims to be challenging. These actions are a repeat of McCann’s behavior in his failed Mayoral race in 1985. In a lawsuit filed by voters, it was alleged that, among other acts of voter suppression, McCann forwarded “letters to residents of public housing projects tenanted by blacks and Hispanics informing them that unless their names appeared on their apartment leases they would be unable to vote and would be prosecuted for doing so.” 634 F. Supp 910. McCann eventually agreed to pay $250,000 to settle this case. Fortunately for him, this cost was covered by his insurance policy. 750 F. Supp 677
“There is a process established by the Bureau of Elections for any campaign who wishes to challenge the eligibility of a voter,” said Jenny Davis, Zimmer’s Campaign Manager. “We have challenged over 60 registered voters at this time, but are not at liberty to reveal the names of these voters. We respect the fact that these individuals are entitled to their privacy until the Bureau of Elections has determined their status.”
“The efforts by Mr. Campos and Mr. McCann to publicize the challenge process are a flagrant attempt to suppress votes by intimidating individuals who are, in fact, legal voters,” said Zimmer. “This is just one more deplorable tactic we have seen in recent weeks by the Campos team, and I call on his entire camp to cease their slanderous, intimidating tactics and run a clean election.”
It is important to remember that the fact that just because an individual is not included as a legal resident on a Housing Authority lease does not mean that individual cannot vote in this election. So long as the voter does, in fact, reside in the 4th Ward, they have the right to vote. This includes people who may live in apartments despite not being authorized residents, and even homeless people who may have been evicted from their HHA residence.
According to Bureau of Elections procedure, a campaign must provide a list of names of registered voters that the campaign believes are not eligible to vote. The BOE then conducts its own investigation, and makes a determination as to whether those voters should be placed on the “inactive” list.
This submission comes from 411 reader “estevens”. He’s supplied the 29-day pre-election ELEC reports for Campos and Zimmer. He’s also provided notes for the Campos supporters. His response when I asked why the same wasn’t done for Zimmer, he replied: “Dawn’s filing showed four contributors, all friends or neighbors who had previously contributed to her campaign”.
Campos ELEC report analysis
David Samuel – $1500 – and Michael McClelland – $500
Samuel and McClelland are partners in the firm CME Associates of Parlin, NJ. CME is an engineering, surveying, and planning firm. Samuel is a township engineer for eleven NJ municipalities and provides consulting services to over fifty municipalities. McLelland serves as authority engineer to various municipal utility authorities and is a municipal engineering representative to various planning and zoning boards.
In 2006, CME Associates made $404,899 in donations to NJ candidates and committees, and received $20 million in contracts.
Both Samuel and McLelland gave $1500 to Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage on June 4, 2007. Bollwage recently contributed $1000 to Campos. More on Bollwage below.
Samuel gave $500 to Assemblyman Neil Cohen in January of 2007. McClelland gave $1000 to Cohen’s law partner and fellow Assemblyman Joseph Cryan on May of 2007. More on Cryan here. More on Cohen below.
Continue reading more about the rest of the contributors after the jump.. Feel free to comment about Zimmer’s pre-election ELEC reports as well.
Elsie Velez – $2500.
Velez is a partner in Kaplan Companies, a Middlesex County housing developer, which acquired properties in Carteret via eminent domain in a redevelopment agreement with the city. (Carteret mayor Dan Reiman contributed $8200 to Campos in June 2007).
Election Fund of Neil Cohen – $1500.
Cohen is a NJ Assemblyman for the 20th District which includes Elizabeth, Kenilworth and Roselle. He is a former Union County Freeholder and serves as attorney to the Union County Utilities Authority.
The State Attorney General issued a subpoena for information about a disputed ward Council race in Roselle . In 2006, Rosemarie Bullock, supported by Cohen (who doubles as municipal Chairman), ran against incumbent Christine Dansereau, backed by Mayor Garrett Smith (who doubles as Cohen’s least favorite person). Dansereau won on the machines by 17 votes, but Bullock took 54 of the 62 absentee ballots to pull ahead by 31 votes. Dansereau lost in court, but an appellate panel, citing a “potential for fraud,” invalidated 31 absentees cast for Bullock and sent the case back to the trial judge.
It seemed that many if not all of the absentee ballots were handled by Roselle Councilman and former Cohen aide Jamal Holley. Holley, who until recently worked in an office shared by Cohen, NJ Senator Raymond Lesniak, and Joseph Cryan, is under investigation by the state Attorney General’s office. State investigators have been combing Roselle for evidence that the political aide manipulated voting to benefit the candidacy of Bullock, Cohen’s choice, and subpoenas were issued to election officials seeking absentee ballots that were mishandled by Holley. Holley has denied persistent rumors that Lesniak later fired him to distance the lawmakers from the ballot fraud scandal. Holley was almost immediately hired to work in the county’s division of economic development.
Election Fund of Maurice Fitzgibbons – $500.
Fitzgibbons is currently the County Freeholder for the Fifth District – Hoboken and Jersey City Heights. Fitzgibbons’ public relations firm, FitzMedia, was given a $60K contract with the Hoboken Board of Education last year. Board member Carmelo Garcia, who was also Campos’s committee chairperson, has been an aide to Freeholder Fitzgibbons since 1998 at $13K a year.
Election Fund of Christian Bollwage – $1000.
Bollwage is the mayor of Elizabeth. In the 1990’s, Bollwage received $11,000 from United Gunite, which in turn was rewarded with $6.5 million in city contracts and was granted a 30-year tax abatement and a $1 million low-interest loan to move its headquarters to Elizabeth. In 2001, W. Steven Carroll, president of Gunite, and Jerry Free, VP of marketing, pleaded guilty to paying off Paterson mayor Marty Barnes and admitted that he routinely offered graft to officials in various municipalities (Hoboken was a client of Gunite). In 2002, Barnes pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Coincidently, Campos’s former employer, attorney Joseph Ryglicki, donated thousands of dollars to former Paterson mayor Martin G. Barnes and served as his campaign fundraiser in 1997 and 1998. The firm of Hanly & Ryglicki was the school district’s counsel from 1997 to 2003, earning $236,000 in the final year of the agreement.
Daniel McCarthy – Community Investment Strategies – $2600.
McCarthy is an attorney with Rogut McCarthy Troy LLC and serves as legal counsel for Kenilworth. RMT represenents CIS of Bordentown, NJ, a development company specializing in building and managing senior and affordable housing. Company president Christiana Foglio, wife of Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, is a former state housing official turned private developer. CIS was one of several developers named in the November 2006 search warrant served on state Democratic power broker John Lynch. Foglio served as director of policy planning and economic development for New Brunswick as well as president of the New Brunswick Development Corp while Lynch was mayor of New Brunswick.
In July of 2007, the town of Jackson used eminent domain to acquire land which it then sold to CIS for $1.
McCarthy has contributed regularly to the campaigns of Joseph Cryan (see above).
The Political Insider column in today’s Journal checks in on Round 3 in Ward 4. Writer Agustin Torres looks at the latest absentee ballots:
“The 4th Ward race in Hoboken has gotten off to a strange start. By the start of the week, 25 absentee ballots had been been cast and 21 of them were handed in by those supporting candidate Chris Campos.
The other four were mailed in, and county folk say that two are for Campos and two are for rival Dawn Zimmer. The problem is that one of the two for Zimmer is a vote from a woman who is a nonresident who lives at 400 First St. and was the center of a complaint filed by Campos that forced this “do-over” election.
It is hard to believe that the same alleged illegal activities are already being repeated in a contest that most everyone in the Mile Square City is convinced will be a fair and clean race – because no one would dare pull the same antics. Guess what.”
Hoboken411 note: 400 1st Street is a senior citizen building where former 4th ward councilman Andrew Amato lives.