Primary Primer – Part 2
In Part 1 yesterday, we explained why only Democrats are fighting in the primary, and the difference between the HCDO and DFHC. You should read Part 1 before continuing through Part 2.
PRIMARY PRIMER – PART 2 Hudson County Races
Hoboken’s place in Hudson County:
Hoboken is one of the smaller municipalities in Hudson County, but because its property value and median income are so high, it pays far more in county taxes than it receives in county services. While cash flows out of Hoboken to the county, commensurate clout doesn’t come back in. Part of this has to do with the number of registered voters, as well as a continuing lack of political gravitas at City Hall.
The 2000 census shows Jersey City has the largest population at 240,055 while Hoboken is 7th in the county at 38,577 (though people estimate the building boom means at least 10,000 more people will probably show up in Hoboken’s 2010 census). With by far the largest population, Jersey City is the 800 pound gorilla of Hudson County politics, as well as the county seat. That is why many of the county’s top jobs go to Jersey City residents.
In the HCDO vs. DFHC fight, you will see HCDO candidates calling on you to vote “Row A All The Way” while Brian Stack’s DFHC points you to “Make a B Line” to his ticket. In order to achieve maximum victory (and maximum power) each side needs their voters to support all the candidates on their “line” on the ballot.
County Executive DeGise vs. Velazquez
The County Executive runs the County government structure, with some assistance from the legislative branch known as the “Board of Chosen Freeholders”. The county budget is close to $400 million with plenty of room for patronage and pet projects. That money and the power that goes with it is what the HCDO and DFHC are fighting over.
Incumbent Tom DeGise is the HCDO candidate for County Executive. Born and raised in the Jersey City Heights, DeGise was a teacher in the Jersey City schools when he was elected to the City Council. Following the corruption scandal that brought down former County Executive Bob Janiszewski, DeGise was elected County Executive in 2002. DeGise is supported by Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, and West New York Mayor Sal Vega.
Challenger Noemi Velazquez is running as the DFHC candidate for County Executive. Velazquez is a teacher in the Jersey City school system who ran for Jersey City Council in 2001 on an unsuccessful ticket led by – believe it or not – Tom DeGise. A native of Puerto Rico, Velazquez is active in several Hispanic community groups. Velazquez is supported by Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Jersey City Assemblyman Louis Manzo and Hoboken Councilman Ruben Ramos.
County Clerk Desmond vs. Netchert vs. Farina
The office of the County Clerk deals with archives and records management, elections, passports, birth certificates, and other public records, such as real estate transactions/deeds. Former clerk Javier Inclan left the job recently to take a job with the state.
Deputy Clerk Mary Jane Desmond was elevated to Acting Clerk late last year upon Inclan’s exit. This was before the current war broke out in the HCDO. When it came time to pick sides, Desmond ended up with Union City Mayor Brian Stack and the DFHC. Born and Raised in Bayonne, Desmond spent 13 years at Furman Selz and 6 years at Jersey City’s Christ Hospital before becoming a Hudson County employee in 2003.
The HCDO candidate is Barbara Netchert, who is currently the executive director of the Jersey City Department of Housing, Economic Development, and Commerce. Essentially that means she is the liaison between high-rise developers and the Mayor. Her husband is also very well connected within the HCDO as general counsel for the Hudson County Improvement Authority and counsel to the Hoboken planning board. (When Hoboken citizens object to high-rise, high-density development proposals at planning board meetings William Netchert is the guy behind the table making legal objections on behalf of Mayor Roberts.)
Hoboken City Clerk James Farina is running as an independent candidate for County Clerk. You’ve probably seen his signs all over town. Jimmy isn’t saying much publicly about his renegade run, but those who know say he is running to protest the fact that nobody else picked him for the job. When Inclan stepped down last year, Farina’s name was printed as a likely candidate. Instead Desmond was picked to be acting clerk. When the HCDO went with Netchert as their candidate over Farina and Desmond, the longest running member of the Hoboken Board of Education got upset. This is said to be one of the (many) things that led to the “Brawl at City Hall” with Mayor Roberts. While not saying so publicly, Farina is believed to be peeved that Davey didn’t push harder to make him the HCDO’s choice for County Clerk. Insiders say Roberts dropped the ball on Farina’s hopes to move into a new office in Jersey City, much like he did with the floating pool that ended up in Brooklyn.
County Sheriff Perez vs. Cassidy
Joseph Cassidy has been Hudson County Sheriff since 1996. He served 32 years in the Jersey City Police Department until his 1995 retirement at the rank of Deputy Chief. Though he is the incumbent, he is running with the support of Brian Stack’s DFHC.
HCDO candidate Juan Manual Perez is the challenger. Perez is currently deputy director of the Jersey City Police Department. He joined the New Jersey State Police in 1977, retiring in 2004 at the rank of Captain. If successful, Perez would be the first Hispanic elected to the job.