• The 14 Hoboken City Council 2017 Candidates {Answer 7 of Our Burning Questions}

    In Hoboken, just like state and federal, we have multiple branches of government. The Mayor is the Executive Branch and City Council is the Legislative Branch, if you will. The City Council is made up of nine individuals, six of whom represent their respective wards, and three “at-large” members. According to the city’s website, “The Council monitors the operafltion and performance of city agencies, makes land use decisions and has sole responsibility for approving the city’s budget. It also legislates on a wide range of other subjects.” In addition to the 6 Mayoral candidates, we have 14 {!!!} candidates running for City Council for 3 spots. Although some of these 14 individuals are running as part of a “slate” with one of the Mayoral candidates, any combination of three can win. Since City Council people also have the ability to affect your every day life, we thought it was important for you to get to know them and their thoughts on Hoboken.

     

     We asked them the following questions:

    • Are you running on slate?
    • Why do you want to be on city council and why do you love Hoboken?
    • In your opinion, what is the biggest concern facing Hoboken and why?
    • Livability issues like transportation, parks, and open space impact quality of life for individuals and community well‐being – economically, environmentally, and socially.
    • What are your one or two top investment priorities for making Hoboken a more livable city?
    • In the past few years, Hoboken has experienced some major flooding issues, and many homes still remain at risk for damage in our community should more storms occur. How should Hoboken continue to address the problem and what are your thoughts on green city improvements?
    • How should Hoboken solve its parking crisis?
    • What else should we know about your run for city council?

    Regardless of who wins for Mayor, three of the following people will be elected to City Council. To learn more about each candidate, we encourage you to check them out on social media, or their respective campaign pages. And here are their answers to our questions:

    1. What is your occupation and how long have you been living in Hoboken? What is your political party affiliation and who do you endorse for mayor of Hoboken?

    James Aibel [Jen Giattino’s Slate]:

    Program Manager for financial services company.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 40 years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Jen Giattino.

    John Allen [Ravi Bhalla’s Slate]:

    I am an attorney, specializing in representing public school and local governments.

    I have lived in Hoboken for five years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Councilman Ravi Bhalla.

    James Doyle [Ravi Bhalla’s Slate]:

    I am an Attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 30 years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Ravi Bhalla.

    Joshua Einstein [At-aLarge]:

     Dog Walker. I have the privilege and trust of many in the community to take care of their furry family members and I am used to picking up #2’s – something that from the Washington St. Destruction Plan, over bonding, and bad contract negotiation – is sadly a fair description of the plans of our city government. I also write a regular column in a Jewish community newspaper and have been published in over 13 websites and newspapers on Jewish and political topics. Most recently I was elected by Republicans in Hudson county to the NJ Republican State Committee.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 10 wonderful years.

    I am a republican. I recommend supporting candidates who address the pressing issues in our city – parking, taxes/cost of living, west side flooding -while ignoring candidates who promise new spending programs, supported prioritizing bike lanes and parks over all else, and are part of the status quo cabal which has ignored Hoboken’s needs for too long. I am running independently, from any and all Hoboken partisan factions, for one of the three City Council At-Large positions on the Hoboken City Council. It is important that whomever the people choose as mayor, that they not surrounded by yes-men, but by independent leaders willing to take a stand for the people of Hoboken.

    Jason Ellis [Jen Giattino’s Slate]:

    I am a Wealth Advisor at Vision Retirement.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 13 years.

    I am a republican and I endorse Jen Giattino.

    Vanessa Falco [Michael Defusco’s Slate]:

    I am a Technical Assistant at Stevens Institute of Technology.

    I am a lifelong resident of Hoboken.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Michael Defusco.

    Michael Flett [Michael DeFusco’s Slate]:

    I work in renewable energy finance and financial risk management at Flett Exchange, LLC.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 25 years.

    I am a republican {Libertarian at heart}and I endorse Michael DeFusco.

    Laini A. Hammond [Anthony Romano’s Slate]:

    I am a Bio-Pharmaceutical Sales Representative.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 10 years.

    I am an independent and I endorse Anthony Romano.

    Andrew Impastato [Michael Defusco’s Slate]:

    I am a small business owner.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 10 years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Mike DeFusco.

    Emily Jabbour [Ravi Bhalla’s Slate]:

    I am a Performance Officer for the Administration for Children and Families {ACF}, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and mom of two daughters, Katherine and Brynn.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 9+ years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Ravi Bhalla.

    Charles “Buddy” Matthews [Anthony Romano’s Slate]:

    I am a retired Hoboken teacher.

    I have been living in Hoboken for 62 years, born and raised.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Anthony Romano.

    David Mello [Anthony Romano’s Slate]:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Sal Starace [Jen Giattino’s Slate]:

    I am a business representative for Local 28 Sheet Metal Workers.

    I have lived in Hoboken for 14 years.

    I am a democrat and I endorse Jen Giattino.

     

    Angelo Valente [At-Large]:

    Executive Director for Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

    I am a lifelong resident of Hoboken.

    I am a republican and I am running as an independent candidate without any affiliation to a candidate for mayor or council slate.

    2. Why do you want to be on city council and why do you love Hoboken?

    Aibel:

    On November 7th, the voters will give their trust to several community members to help chart Hoboken’s future at a genuinely critical juncture: overdevelopment and overcrowding threaten to make our small town unlivable. A deep understanding of the enormous development issues encompassing Hoboken actually matters in this election cycle. I want to be on the City Council because my eight years on the Zoning Board (five as Chairman) have equipped me to address the decisions and planning that we must undertake immediately. I also will bring good judgment and personal integrity I’ve demonstrated in my four decade legal and business career.

    Becoming a City Council member was not on my “bucket list” when Jen Giattino asked me to join her ticket. But I suppose everything happens for a reason. And I can’t imagine a better reason to run for public office than protecting the place you call home.

    Beverly Savage (my remarkable better half) and I moved to Hoboken in 1978. It was a very different city then, putting it mildly, but its charms were irresistible. It provided diversity and a small town scale and intimacy that cannot be found anywhere else within a stone’s throw of Manhattan. And we could afford (barely) to buy a small home on Garden Street. We are still on Garden Street, raised our children here, and are now “empty nesters.” We love sitting on our stoop speaking with our neighbors, watching young and not-so-young parents with babies, children and canines (we love canines; babies and children are nice too) and just being part of a genuine community. Our lives have become inextricably intertwined in the fabric of the city. Hoboken is our home, and we can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    Allen:

    I’m engaged to be married in February and my fiancé, Tara Mullins, and we have planted our roots here and Hoboken is where we want to raise a family. I have direct, personal experience with local government and would like to bring that perspective with me to the Council. As recently reported, Hoboken is New Jersey’s millennial capital. I think it’s time for the thoughts and aspirations of my generation to be represented on the Council. I can be that voice. At the most basic level, I’m running for Council because Hoboken is where I call home.

    Doyle:

    I currently serve on the Council and am running for re-election. I know what the job entails and enjoy serving the City as an at-large council person. I believe that I have skills to continue to improve our City. I am dedicated, hard-working, and passionate about improving our City, and I have particularly focused on issues such as expanding our open space inventory and ensuring development occurs in a sensible manner. I came to visit Hoboken in 1986, and I was immediately drawn to it. I relocated here the next year and have not left since. A lot has changed since then, most good, some not, but I love our City and want to keep it progressing on the right track through, e.g., fixing what needs to be fixed, providing affordable housing for a diverse community, and continuing on the path of open space acquisition and sensible development.

    Einstein:

    Hoboken’s challenges have been ignored for long enough. From the parking crisis, hightaxes and cost of living, regressive zoning laws, west side flooding, over bonding and more – our cities needs have been deprioritized in favor of the pet projects of particular pressure groups. That’s why I’m running. I fell in love with Hoboken when I moved here ten years ago, the amazing communities, friendly neighbors, great night life, terrific eateries, rich history, and the spirit of civic engagement are a unique mix that isn’t found many places.

    Ellis:

    Hoboken is a truly unique community that offers a quaint, neighborhood feel within a densely populated city. With this comes challenges such as affordability, development, displacement, parking, traffic, aging infrastructure, all within a flood prone environment. This is the place I call home and I want to work hard to keep it livable for my family and for everyone.

    Falco:

    I am running for City Council because I am confident that my unique and diverse background, coupled with my qualifications will be an asset to municipal decisions being made that impact the residents of Hoboken. I love Hoboken because it is rich in history. One thing that has remained consistent in Hoboken since I was a child is its safe environment. I have always felt safe in Hoboken, I want it to remain that way.

    Flett:

    Hoboken has been my home since right after college and I am raising my family here. I love Hoboken because it is a small village where we know our neighbors with the close proximity to New York City. When you come home from work, go to a restaurant, or run along the waterfront you will see familiar faces. Neighbors know who my kids are and I get the scoop on what they are doing. I would like to serve on Hoboken City Council to lend my experience in the community to decisions that affect our quality of life, and help keep costs down for homeowners and renters by applying my financial background to help ensure city contracts and budgets are responsibly structured and adequately plan for our future.

    Hammond:

    My goal is to serve the people. I live here and care just as much for this city as my neighbors. As I look around Hoboken I see a great city in need of many improvements. We have some issues that must be addressed, such as lack of parking, poor road conditions, disinvestment in small business development, and infrastructure needs. Our team can put workable solutions to action and that is what we intend to do. I also know that Hoboken is a destination city for many visitors. This is crucial to spurring our economy as we need to reinvest in Hoboken’s retail and business district. I love that Hoboken feels like a quaint, walkable city with pockets of neighborhoods spread throughout. We have eclectic shops, amazing restaurants, and many activities for people to enjoy. We embrace diversity and culture, and we show that through the various parades and events we enjoy that honor different cultures.

    Impastato:

    I am running for city councilman because I am frustrated in seeing many of our problems go unsolved, both as a resident and a Hoboken small business owner. I am tired of watching our elected officials play political games and inflate their egos instead of working to deflate our city’s escalating issues. I represent new ideas, I represent new energy, and I have a progressive forward thinking approach that will get things done. I love Hoboken because of the youthful energy it has and the historical richness that defines it. I am impressed every day with the diverse group of residents that make up who we are and the image we have to others.

    Jabbour:

    When I first moved to Hoboken it was at the suggestion of my now husband who was born and raised in New Jersey. We were engaged and both working in Manhattan, but wanted to live in a place that would give us room to breathe and feel like a small town. Hoboken was a perfect fit, so after two years of renting we purchased our first home together here. Several years later – we now have two daughters and our French Bulldog Daisy! I am running for City Council because I believe in giving back to the community that I call home. I’m also a social worker by training, so advocacy and helping others is something I’ve literally built my career on. Hoboken is a special place with just the right balance of charm and urban grit.

    Matthews:

    I want to be on the city council because I want to better the quality of life for the citizens of Hoboken. I taught in this city for 34 years and was a very successful baseball and basketball coach for Hoboken High School for 26 years. Hoboken is a cosmopolitan city that is on the rise. We have the best restaurants, businesses, parks, and schools.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    Hoboken is my home, where my wife Anju and I have been raising our three daughters. Our city has that special feel of the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up: the combination of a small neighborhood with the options and choices available that only a large city can afford. I want to be on City Council to do what I can protecting our city and ensuring that as it grows/changes it remains a wonderful place to call home.

    Valente:

    I have always believed Hoboken is the greatest city to live in – even as a child growing up here, I was always the city’s biggest proponent – long before the rest of the word saw what I knew to be true about Hoboken. My great grandparents settled in Hoboken in 1903, for the same reason people are still drawn to our community today – because we are a city with a great quality of life. As a member of the Hoboken City Council I will spend every day of the next four years working on improving the quality of life for every Hoboken resident.

    3. In your opinion, what is the biggest concern facing Hoboken and why?

    Aibel:

    I believe overdevelopment and overcrowding are the biggest long-term concerns for our quality of life. Major Redevelopment Areas are already designated for the North End, Western Edge, Southwest and Hoboken Rail Yard; a hotel is also planned for the southern waterfront. How can we in good conscience continue to add significant residential population to our city without knowing what our aging infrastructure can support or what improvements, additional schools and municipal services will be required and at what cost? Future development must be well considered and thoroughly planned, and it must benefit the community. My biggest short-term concern is the fragility of our aging infrastructure and its vulnerability to everyday use and extraordinary events. We need a plan to ensure delivery of our most critical municipal services. We need to continue the efforts to combat flooding, and make the city more resilient and better prepared for catastrophic events.

    Allen:

    Hoboken’s aging infrastructure impacts nearly every aspect of life in our city. From flooding to the state of our roads, nearly every resident has been effected in one way or another. Development threatens to further burden our infrastructure. It should be the next mayor and Council’s top priority to address these concerns by focusing on repairing our roads, examining traffic patterns to alleviate traffic, updating our water mains, and engineering intelligent flood prevention plans.

    Doyle:

    Proper development. It impacts population size, infrastructure (the stresses on roads and the water and sewer systems), transportation (car and mass transit congestion), schools (the student population size and possible expansion of schools), municipal budget (with additional services required), and overall quality of life. It must be conducted in sensible, well thought out manner.

    Einstein:

    Parking, taxes, and cost of living. The people of Hoboken are overburdened and milked for money at every turn. Whether the rising expense of having a car (that the city has encouraged by killing parking spots), high property taxes, the potential water rate increase, or the anti-business climate that prevents more markets and eateries from opening, all of these means the cost of living goes up for everyone. City government can’t solve everyone’s problems but it shouldn’t be adding to our cost of living with outmoded and regressive policies.

    Ellis:

    Hoboken is at a crossroads. The next administration is going to have an enormous say on how the un-developed lots, particularly around the edge of Hoboken from the PATH terminal all the way west and north the north end, are developed. Prior to approving any additional development, we must update the Master Plan that looks at the City of Hoboken holistically to see what we can realistically add given our current infrastructure, educational system, police, fire, municipal services capacity. And how these effect parking, traffic, mass transit, and quality of life issues including outdoor space to indoor multi-service centers.

    Falco:

    In my opinion, the population of Hoboken is my biggest concern. Our population has increased by 42% over the last 15 years. With that has comes challenges such as traffic, development, infrastructure, recreation space, and schools. It has had a domino effect onto other facets of our quality of life as residents.

    Flett:

    Hoboken is always a city in transition. The trend we need to address immediately is that families with children are staying in Hoboken and not moving to the suburbs when the oldest child reaches 2nd or 3rd grade. I see the municipal need to address recreation facilities, and collaborate with the schools to ensure we are adequately using land use to modernize our education facilities. At the same time we need to reduce our tax burden. Currently the lack of educational options coupled with high taxes forces many to leave town. There is a growing demand in this area and we need to satisfy it in the most cost effective manner.

    Hammond:

    At this very moment, Washington Street is our biggest concern. The condition of the road coupled with the limited parking and traffic congestion has caused major problems not only for drivers, but also for commuters, small businesses, pedestrian safety, visitors, and parking. The Washington Street renovation project has taken far too long and has backed up traffic during peak driving times. The condition of the roads itself is problematic with uneven pavement, potholes, and broken sidewalks. I am concerned about the bump outs that are being installed because it limits parking spaces. Then we have the impact on the business sector. With poor street conditions, limited parking, and signs barring cars from parking at various times, our small businesses are suffering. It is a major cause for concern when Washington Street has over a dozen empty storefronts.

    Impastato:

    My biggest concern is the complacency I see as the norm in how we approach significant issues. Government in this city has been dominated by a few closed groups of people focused on small sets of their own priorities, while larger issues that affect the entire city, such as the mess on Washington Street, are ignored. Hoboken is a city full of amazing people who want our community to succeed together, but too many people are just shut out by our current administration. We need new energy in dealing with our issues and new ideas to help restore our quality of life. We can’t let politics get in the way of progress.

    Jabbour:

    The biggest concern facing Hoboken is the need to finish the work of rebuilding and reinforcing our infrastructure. We need to keep our focus on infrastructure because once we tackle these basic needs – the condition of our roads, the availability of mass transit options, the aging water main system etc., we will have the ability to confidently improve other aspects of our city. I live on the western edge of Hoboken and flooding and continued exposure to major storms is a real issue. The addition of a second flood pump by Mayor Zimmer made a positive difference, but there is more work to be done, particularly seeing through the full implementation of the $230M Rebuild by Design project. The use of parks as resiliency projects with stormwater retention tanks is the type of innovative leadership that Hoboken needs to take in this field.

    Matthews:

    The biggest concern facing Hoboken is the continued flooding. Flooding in Hoboken is a top priority for our platform. We want to address this by adding several more water retention systems throughout the city that will allow for proper drainage. We must act quickly and get ahead of this problem, rather than chasing it.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    My main concern is our plan for development, since 35% of Hoboken is still undeveloped. Moving forward, Hoboken needs a solid plan to get development right. With over 20 years of working in the construction industry I have seen many examples of planning with excellent foresight that benefits everyone involved, and other examples where lacking a plan resulted in economic and infrastructure burdens. We need to bring back community development groups made up of citizens who have a vested interest in the development of their own area. On the campaign trail, everyone I speak with cites concerns with population overgrowth, overcrowding, and increasing taxes, and I agree that those issues are why we must encourage commercial development over residential, especially in our Northwest area. Development is permanent; once a building is built, it cannot easily or inexpensively be unbuilt. Commercial development will not only minimize the demand for public services and offset the residential tax burden, but will also feed revenue by creating daytime traffic to local businesses.

    Valente:

    I am extremely concerned that the quality of life we enjoy here is on shaky ground. Recent decisions are challenging that quality of life. First, there is a war on residents who use cars and this war has to stop – immediately. We now have a reputation among visitors as the town that replaced the welcome sign with a tow-away sign. I am also concerned that the ill executed Washington Street redesign will have a lasting negative impact on our community. Another concern, is the decision not to prioritize the creation of permanent recreational and cultural facilities for our children, adults and seniors.

    4. Livability issues like transportation, parks, and open space impact quality of life for individuals and community well-being – economically, environmentally, and socially.What are your one or two top investment priorities for making Hoboken a more livable city?

    Aibel:

    Transportation, in the broadest sense of the word, is most critical to our “livability.” How easily we are able to move around town and get in and out of Hoboken directly affects our quality of life. If we cannot get in and out of Manhattan easily and affordably by PATH, bus or ferry, Hoboken will certainly lose much of its appeal. No one enjoys waiting endlessly for a 126 bus and then standing for the trip into the city, as an example. We need to invest in initiatives to improve our public transportation options; add HOP bus routes around town providing better access to shopping and recreation; and plan the transportation infrastructure for successful development of our redevelopment areas and Hoboken Rail Yard. Second, I would invest in the acquisition of the Union Dry Dock property to create a continuous waterfront walkway and additional open space.

    Allen:

    Ensuring Hoboken has a contiguous, well designed waterfront for the benefit and enjoyment of residents and visitors should be a focus of the next mayor and council. Presently, the only piece of land available on the waterfront is owned by the Union Dry Dock. We should be aggressively pursuing negotiations with the owners to secure the land before it is purchased by developers.

    I am also committed to making sure Hoboken remains accessible to all, regardless of age or disability. My mother lived in Hoboken until the early 2000’s when she was forced to move from her walk-up home because she has multiple sclerosis and her mobility was greatly affected. For me, smart development for our city means development that is open and accessible to all.

    Doyle:

    If you are speaking to livability, development and open space are the two priorities I feel we must consider carefully. Sensible development can provide a mix of housing for people of all income levels, curb the population increase, and reduce congestion, while active and passive park space (and more of it!) can provide necessary light and air to relieve us from our stress-filled lives. Development can help fund some of that additional open space, but I feel the City and its residents have to step up and play a role in that financial chore too, as we do through our open space tax.

    Einstein:

    We live in an urban area, hence open space and parks are going to be limited. If you want more open space feel free to move to the suburbs but if you want more community space suitable for entertaining people of all ages then we need to change the just-say-no to business attitude that killed a private event space (often used for children’s birthday parties) and a bowling alley (proposed in 2014 and rejected by the zoning board) among others.
    Merriam-Webster defines livable as “suitable for living in, on, or with” – Hoboken is already suitable for living in as its already livable. It is as glaringly obvious that Hoboken could use better mass transit as it is that no amount of complaining will make NJ Transit and the ferries come under city control. I will work to bring in a private bus company to bring competition and lower prices for commuting to the city for the people of Hoboken.

    Ellis:

    Infrastructure is probably the biggest one given our history with water main breaks. We must revisit the overall Master Plan and stop allowing zoning variances, ad-hoc approvals, and PILOT programs that lead to developments that put further strain on our infrastructure. We must get the right development, with a fair amount of the costs of updating our infrastructure to be paid by developers, Also, as a father of two boys, I would like to see the completion of the SW and BASF Parks and a focus on keeping our parks safe and clean.

    Falco:

    As mentioned above, the population of Hoboken is a major concern for me. I feel it’s necessary for Hoboken to diversify its land usage and invest in commercial business. We should do so with green initiatives. More families are choosing to make Hoboken their permanent home. In making Hoboken a more livable city, there needs to be a directive from city hall to work collaboratively with our public school district. Both entities can work collectively to secure land and redevelop plans that will house new facilities with upgraded technology allowing residents to have the overall confidence in our public school system. This is a priority for me.

    Flett:

    I am in favor of an “all of the above” approach and not pick winners and losers when it comes to transportation and open space. As for transportation, I will advocate for searching for solutions to improving traffic flow as opposed to the past ten years of intentionally punishing drivers. The demand for bicycle options needs to be addressed from a safety and a convenience standpoint. I will advocate for more bicycle parking, especially at our PATH, ferry and business locations, and would like to see us switch to Citibike to make travel between Hoboken, Jersey City and New York more convenient. Pedestrian safety, especially pertaining to children walking to school, needs special attention. Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians all deserve the same consideration. We need more indoor sports space for our youth during the winter months and also create passive park space with trees for those not looking to kick a soccer ball all the time.

    In the past few years, Hoboken has experienced some major flooding issues, and many homes still remain at risk for damage in our community should more storms occur. How should Hoboken continue to address the problem and what are your thoughts on green city improvements?

    The number one priority for our city is securing federal funding for completion of phase one of the RBD (Rebuild by Design) to protect our city from another storm surge as seen by Sandy. When the risk of a storm surge is eliminated by completion of RBD (without unnecessary walls on the interior uptown streets) we need to re-examine the flood rules which are taking away our garden-level apartments. These apartments are needed because they provide housing, especially for older residents who cannot use steps. The added income is needed by families who own these buildings to offset their tax burden. I am a professional in the solar industry. I will use my financial knowledge in this area to bring green city improvements without taking undue financial risks as other counties/towns have done in New Jersey.

    Hammond:

    Our first step is to conduct a financial condition analysis to provide a long-term budget strategy for Hoboken. Next, we want to invest in two crucial areas: education/recreation programs, and environmental efficiency. In terms of investing in education, we plan to develop rewarding programs that promote innovation. We propose working alongside Stevens Institute to develop robust STEM programs at the middle school level, and college-student mentorship programs. We also want to develop more programs in sports, music, and the arts, and we need to design the newly acquired field space at 13th and Madison to accommodate a variety of programs.

    We also propose retrofitting the city’s buildings and departments with energy efficient technology. We can be the model city in NJ for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. We also need to focus on beautification. There are many areas that need attention. Our team wants to develop a city app that allows our residents to report issues in real-time.

    Impastato:

    We need to devote resources, time, and energy to fixing our infrastructure. Our city streets are a mess: potholes are everywhere, water mains are breaking, roads need to be paved, street lights are out, and our sewer lines need to be enlarged so the flood pumps are no longer stuck running under capacity. We have to refocus on improving our infrastructure, which in the end will improve our quality of life.

    Jabbour:

    In order to maintain the charm of Hoboken, we need to prioritize smart, thoughtful, and sustainable development. It is concerning to look across to Jersey City and watch their skyline get taller and taller. Part of the charm of Hoboken is its modest size – but we need to actively make policies that protect our city in this way. My family is lucky to live close to Columbus Park, which is a beautiful open space – every neighborhood in Hoboken should have easy access to park space. In addition, Hoboken needs to do more in terms of expanding our recreational programs, starting with upgrading community spaces such as the Multi-Service Center. We need to explore a partnership between the YMCA and the city to renovate this space for use by the community. With more community spaces available, Hoboken can then increase the programming options available to our seniors, families, and children.

    Matthews:

    My priority is to complete the Washington Street project that has gone beyond its expected timeline and is negatively impacting the economic viability of Hoboken’s small businesses. The Washington St. project is obscene. Parking is limited, lanes are re-routed, and the condition of the street itself is atrocious. My second focus is to improve transportation throughout the city, but more importantly to add a light rail station on the northeast side of Hoboken to make it more convenient for the people living in that part of the city to travel throughout the county.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    My biggest quality of life concerns are pedestrian safety and infrastructure. Pedestrian safety is a very personal issue for me because my mom passed away four years ago from getting hit by a car. I have three daughters who walk in our city every day. As a city councilman, I will prioritize making sure we are making the right investments in and around our streets, whether through more traffic devices and signals, increasing crossing guard numbers around our schools, or simply completing Washington street. Jen Giattino and the city council budgeted $100,000 this year to have a study done on street safety here in Hoboken, and that study has already resulted in two new stop signs in town: one at 6th and Clinton and another at 15th and Hudson. Infrastructure is my other main quality of life priority; it is ashame Hoboken has been plagued with so many recent, recurring water main breaks, and we need to have a plan to make the necessary repairs and replacements to our system. Additionally, we need to ensure that developers, who are literally increasing our population to increase and for our existing systems to strain, make contributions to the costs of necessary upgrades and repairs. Hoboken has experienced some major flooding issues in the past few years, and should more storms occur many homes still remain at risk.

    Valente:

    Developing a tax rebate plan and adding permanent recreational facilities are two of the top priorities I will bring to the City Council. My tax rebate plan will allow Hoboken homeowners and condo owners to finally see a direct benefit from all of the new development throughout the city. An investment in additional permanent recreation and cultural facilities is also a top priority in my quality of life plan for Hoboken. This includes converting the tops of the municipal garages on First and Second Streets to enclosed recreational facilities, with tennis and racquetball courts, and running tracks. The roofs of these facilities will be “green roofs” to collect rain water and encourage urban vegetation. The details of these and other quality of life plans can be found at ValenteForHoboken.Com.

    5. In the past few years, Hoboken has experienced some major flooding issues, and many homes still remain at risk for damage in our community should more storms occur. How should Hoboken continue to address the problem and what are your thoughts on green city improvements?

    Aibel:

    Mother Nature cannot be denied, and low lying areas will remain at risk. We need to ensure our critical utilities – water, sewage, electricity and gas – can survive natural and man-made disasters. Seeing through the “Rebuild by Design” effort is an important part of long-term resiliency and water storage solutions, but additional flood pumps and sewer reconstruction will provide more immediate relief. “Green” building practices and thoughtful placement of rain gardens and other improvements to the city landscape will provide additional benefits, but enforcing the maximum lot coverage requirements of the Zoning Ordinance will create (where possible) permeable surfaces that will absorb rain and flood water and help moderate discharge into our sewer system. We all can contribute to “green city improvements” by, for example, “adopting” a tree or maintaining a garden to absorb runoff. Every tree and every foot of permeable space are valuable and help address our flooding problem.

    Allen:

    The city’s construction of resiliency parks that also provide flood water retention capacity coupled with the installation of flood pumps is an innovative and strategic way flooding is currently being addressed. That policy should be continued and expanded. To further address flooding, the city has secured a federal grant of approximately $250 million for the purpose of creating a comprehensive, city-wide flood protection plan. This project is the Rebuild by Design project and Ravi Bhalla has been the co-chair of the committee overseeing its implementation. I’m running with him so that we can work together to make sure the money is spent wisely to secure our city against future flood events.

    Doyle:

    As a member of Hoboken’s Green Team, and a 30-year employee of the USEPA, I am obviously an enthusiastic supporter of the many green initiatives in our City, whether they be as grand as the $230 million Rebuild by Design resiliency project, the millions of gallons of storm water detention capacity we are building, or more isolated instances of green roofs, rain barrels and gardens, or solar panels. Implementing the RBD project and other incremental steps are critical to protecting us going forward. Whether the next disaster storm is a year away or 20 or 50 years away, we need to be working to protect against the devastating effects.

    Einstein:

    No city is green, no development is green, and no amount of anti-storm swell measures will stop a traditional hurricane from dumping flood level amounts of rain on Hoboken should we get hit again. What is highly likely is the regular flooding on the west side of town and what is inexcusable is that the anti-flooding measures for this part of town were presented to residents as part of the Rebuild by Design plan when none of the $230 million federal tax dollars is allocated to pay for them.

    Ellis:

    I live on the west side of Hoboken where the neighborhood is plagued with flooding during regular rainstorms. The City of Hoboken should work to implement all phases of “Rebuild by Design” to mitigate future flooding events, while working to make better use of green rooftops on our municipal garages, water retention systems under our parks, and encouraging new development to use solar to offset their carbon footprint.

    Falco:

    The current administration has invested significantly in resilience parks and construction to address the flooding concerns. The next administration should continue the efforts by utilizing the 230 million dollar grant awarded by the Government, Rebuild by Design Project. Additionally, the City of Hoboken should be more proactive with utilizing a great local resource, Stevens Institute of Technology. Stevens houses some of the most technologically advanced students, faculty, and facilities that can contribute to overall planning, construction, and design of future implementations.

    Flett:

    The number one priority for our city is securing federal funding for completion of phase one of the RBD (Rebuild by Design) to protect our city from another storm surge as seen by Sandy. When the risk of a storm surge is eliminated by completion of RBD (without unnecessary walls on the interior uptown streets) we need to re-examine the flood rules which are taking away our garden- level apartments. These apartments are needed because they provide housing, especially for older residents who cannot use steps. The added income is needed by families who own these buildings to offset their tax burden. I am a professional in the solar industry. I will use my financial knowledge in this area to bring green city improvements without taking undue financial risks as other counties/towns have done in New Jersey.

    Hammond:

    Our team’s highest priority is to create a funding plan to upgrade our entire flood resistant system. Our first action item is to install the remaining two drain pumps that have not been installed yet (four drain pumps were planned for installation, however only two have been installed). These pumps retain thousands of gallons of water and it is essential that we complete the project.

    With respect to water main breaks, we need to identify a water company that will give us the best deal possible for our citizens. We want to review comparables from other water vendors so that we can select the best choice for our residents. The water company that is contracted must include funding for repairs that are equivalent to actual repair costs, and a maintenance plan to prevent future water main breaks from occurring.

    Impastato:

    We need to continue to advance underground retention basins at our parks across the city to capture storm water. We need to continue to invest in adding more pumps and evaluate our sewage lines to let them function at full capacity. Our sewage lines are not wide enough to contain storm surges when they occur and need to be widened. I would call for all new development in Hoboken to invest in a dedicated infrastructure trust fund to address needed upgrades, including funding flood prevention projects.

    Matthews:

    We currently have two pump stations for flooding in the southern and northern parts of the city. In addition, there are two additional stations in the city’s midsection that can be made operational. This would drastically reduce flooding throughout the city. We also need to invest in planners and engineers that can help us to develop a solid plan to prevent or reduce flooding.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    We can start by moving forward with Rebuild by design. The city has secured $230 million for parts of the project. We have 2 flood pumps already in the city, one at Maxwell and another by the Path, I feel we should have at least 2 more, one near the NHSA building in the North end and another near the south west. All municipal buildings should have green roofs and rain gardens, adding more permeable surfaces will help collect more rainwater and help slow flooding. We should explore using more retention tanks around the city as well, like the tank that will be installed at the BASF site.

    Valente:

    First, we need to expand the capacity of the pumping stations. However, we also need to utilize a resource that I believe has been untapped – Stevens Institute of Technology. Stevens can provide valuable insight and assistance in developing comprehensive and innovative solutions to our flooding problems. They are experts and, as our neighbor, have a vested interest in solving these issues. Another example to begin green initiatives in Hoboken is to save our trees, not cut them down as the current administration plans to do on Washington Street.

    6. How should Hoboken solve its parking crisis?

    Aibel:

    Let me try to express this a bit differently: Hoboken will have a parking “crisis” if we continue to increase residential populations without adequate planning for the influx of vehicles that will accompany residential growth. While parking is now and has been “inconvenient,” the community and vehicle owners have accepted the burden of ownership. In this sense, we are no different from New York in terms of available and affordable parking. Solving the parking “crisis” has eluded City government for almost two decades. We certainly can improve the situation by a combination of some or all of the following: perimeter garages(s) and shuttle buses, opening up certain corner spots to allow for short-term loading zones with overnight parking, increasing permit fees to create some reasonable disincentive to bringing vehicles into town, improving the bike share system and Zip-type car rentals. The real crisis, however, may be ahead of us.

    Allen:

    The city must approach the parking problem from several angles. First, the construction of parking garages on the periphery of the city that provide low-cost parking to residents can help alleviate some street parking. Second, increasing mass transit options, such as additional route 126 buses during peak hours and lowering the cost of ferry tickets through State subsidies, can provide alternatives to the use of cars. Third, by investing in technology to make traditional Hoboken Parking Utility tasks, like purchasing parking permit or ordering no parking signs, will provide convenience to residents and allow for more effective enforcement of existing parking rules. There is no single solution to this problem, it will require a multi-disciplined approach, but I’m committed to addressing it.

    Doyle:

    We have approximately 9,000 on-street spots and 16,000 permits, and the latter number is rising every day. The solution is not simple – the City’s 2004 Master Plan called for more municipal garages around the perimeter of the City, but we have not made that a reality yet. While one such garage is proposed for the north west, more attention has to be paid to this issue. Also, we need to explore efforts to reduce the degree to which we are a car-dependent culture going forward by making it easier to not need a car, whether through car sharing, alternative transit modes, or technological advances (self-driving cars).

    Einstein:

    A perimeter parking plan should have been incorporated in the master plan years ago. We still have options for parking solutions. First, we must require every large new construction to included more spots per residences than they must currently build. Second, we should study the feasibility of increasing underground parking as was done under the Harlow (the Trader Jo’s building). Third, we must build more parking decks and use revenue collected from the Parking Authority’s very successful ticketing to do so. Lastly, every bicycle lane that meant killing parking spots should be return to parking and bicyclists should be required to share the road with drivers as they already are obligated to do on most streets.

    Ellis:

    Hoboken is known for its challenging parking situation, which is a deterrent for people that come to the city to visit family, shop locally, and dine. Hoboken’s existing street cleaning only forces people to move their vehicle one time during the week. I’d like to pilot a program that moves to alternate side of the street parking – essentially forcing people to move their vehicle every-other day for street cleaning. This would curtail people that use their vehicle sporadically or solely on the weekends from parking on the street, freeing up spaces for guests, visitors, and businesses.

    Falco:

    Parking remains a huge issue in Hoboken, for reasons mentioned above, our population of approximately 55,000 people residing in one square mile. Moving forward, Hoboken will be required to be more innovative and user friendly as it relates to parking. There’s an overall confusion, fear, and major expense for violations as it relates to residents and visitors.

    Flett:

    I feel the lowest hanging fruit to improving our parking problem can be solved by addressing car “storage”. Many of us park our cars in high demand areas of the city and do not use them all week. As a municipality we need to charge more for certain areas and use that money to invest in garages on our city periphery and provide HOP or shuttle service to interior areas. This will provide a car “storage” option. Residents who use the outer garages for “storage” will be free/reduced because it can be paid for by those who choose to park in high demand areas. I don’t favor just increasing fees and adding another backdoor tax. I don’t like taxes.

    Hammond:

    Hoboken needs an overhaul of its parking plan. We need to identify new locations for public parking garages that are not adjacent to parks and that serve the areas in most need. We also need to ensure that developers who are proposing new residential/commercial buildings must include parking in their planning process, and this is something that the city needs to regulate. Finally, we need to eliminate predatory parking enforcement targeted at visitors and residents. I think it is also important to keep in mind that many of these issues overlap with each other. For example, traffic congestion and road repairs directly impact parking. So, while we can focus on one issue at a time, we also need a master plan that strategically targets a number of these issues.

    Impastato:

    Being the founder and director of Parking Dude for the past 1.5 years I have seen first hand how bad our parking crisis is. There is no one in this city that has been down in the trenches more than I have listening to and working with residents and visitors deal with parking in this city. Our parking crisis stems from two main concerns: 1. The enforcement of outdated rules and overly aggressive ticketing and 2. The lack of communication, notification, and alertness of modern day technology. In 2016 Hoboken handed out 141,914 tickets and collected $6.5 million dollars in parking related fines. Those numbers are outrageous and are due to the 20 minute “quota” that this administration places on its Hoboken parking staff to give out tickets. While the administration denies it is a quota, if a worker does not write a ticket in 20 minutes they need to inform their supervisor and may face suspension. This leads to the same result of questionable tickets being written with the assumption that people just won’t bother to challenge them in court. This policy needs to end. We also must change the temporary no parking notice from 72 hours to 7 days prior to the posting of a sign so if a resident goes on vacation or on a business trip they do not get towed, and require prompt removal of these signs after the date has passed. We need to use modern day technology to inform, notify, and alert residents so they can avoid parking tickets, and at the same time allow our city workers do a more efficient job of cleaning streets and clearing snow. Tickets are supposed to be used to correct unsafe situations or punish bad behavior, not to pad the city budget.

    Jabbour:

    Addressing the parking problem in Hoboken requires a multifaceted approach. First, we need to encourage the use of municipal garages by offering low-cost parking in locations that residents can easily access. Second, we should revisit parking policies that make a difference to residents on an everyday basis such as booting policies, temporary no parking signs, and visitor parking signage. Third, we need to expand mass transit options such as the addition of a western edge 126 bus line, expended HOP service, and cheaper ferry service through state subsidies to reduce our reliance on cars. Finally, a thoughtful look at transit options must also consider improvements to pedestrian safety and making Hoboken a more bicycle-friendly place.

    Matthews:

    There are a few ways to accomplish this. First, we need to identify locations for public parking garages. Second, we should review the extended corner non-parking zones and possibly reduce them. By doing this, additional cars could park close enough to the corner without impeding pedestrian walkways. The bump outs are also taking needed spaces away, and I think we should reduce those as well. Finally, we should require developers/builders to assign one parking space for each rental unit.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    That Hoboken hasn’t been able to solve this problem in over 20 years of trying is a good example of why resident and expert input into planning development is so crucial. Residential development is overburdening us. I feel the city should build municipal lots in the north and southwest parts of the city. More public transportation options may help, such as buses that not only go to the Port Authority but also other areas of Manhattan, such as Wall Street. More public transportation options would deter citizens from using a car and would increase foot traffic in Hoboken for businesses to attract. Also, Hoboken should reevaluate the Hudson tunnel project and push for federal funding to support it.

    Valente:

    Parking is the biggest issue impacting our quality of life. I don’t understand why so many of our precious parking spaces have been taken away from residents. I will work with public safety to expand parking in current restricted zones which could create an estimated 350 additional spaces. Also, to increase the limited spaces we do have, I will implement a plan to create pavement markings that will maximize the most spaces available for each block will be available and utilized. Parking meters in residential communities are wrong on all levels. It sends the wrong signal when we are now charging our friends and family to visit our homes, as well as interrupting family gatherings every two hours to feed the parking meters to avoid hefty fines. I will introduce a resolution to the city council to eliminate parking meters in all residential areas.

    7. What else should we know about your run for city council?

    Aibel:

    My principal reason for running for an at-large council seat is a strong desire to continue my public service for our special city. In 2009 and again in 2014, the City Council appointed me to the Zoning Board, and my Board colleagues elected me as Chairman for the past five years.
    We need to keep Hoboken from becoming a victim of its own success. To do that, we need to plan and manage development. I want to join the Council to bring the knowledge I’ve gained in land use and my 40 years of professional experience as a lawyer and businessman to do the right thing for our future. If elected, I expect to provide unrivalled commitment and competency to the Council, and to serve faithfully as a guardian for Hoboken’s future.

    Allen:

    I currently serve as a Hoboken Democratic Committeeman representing Ward 3, District 5. Before moving to Hoboken, I was elected to serve as the President of the Old Bridge Township Board of Education, the town in which I was raised. There, I managed a budget of over $150 million and was responsible for delivering educational services to nearly 10,000 students. I also currently serve on the Board of Directors of Easterseals New Jersey, one of the State’s oldest and largest charities empowering individuals with disabilities. Between my personal experiences as a civic leader and my professional experience as an attorney advising local governments, I believe I’m uniquely qualified to start, if elected, working day-one on behalf of Hoboken.

    I also love to cook, especially exploring new recipes and different cuisines. What I love about Hoboken is the variety of small businesses, from expert butchers to fish markets and gourmet outlets, that provide hard to find or specialty items. And, of course, when I’m not inclined to cook, Hoboken is blessed with an abundance of amazing restaurants.

    Doyle:

    It is a lot of work to put yourself out there to seek to be elected. I appreciate it can be tiresome for the public with twenty-seven candidates knocking on doors around our City, what with the mayoralty and council and school board seats up for a vote. But as long as we as candidates behave properly and ethically, I would ask that the public tolerate these last days before the election and treat the candidates respectfully, regardless of who the candidate is and what his or her positions are on the issues.

    Einstein:

    I’m an independent thinker dedicated to getting city government out of the way so that life in our city can be as hassle free and enjoyable as possible. As a founding participant of a political dialogue group of conservatives and liberals and as a founding member of the Hudson County Regional Jewish Council, I understand and appreciate the value that differing perspectives bring to the table, have experience working with a variety of stakeholders and leaders, and am able to work towards shared goals. I will continue to do so when elected to city council in order to build an even better Hoboken.

    Ellis:

    While my wife and I were dating, we initially viewed Hoboken as a temporary home that offered vibrant nightlife and convenience to New York. Over time it was apparent that this would be our permanent home, a place where we felt a strong sense of community, neighborly love, and a great place to raise a family. It’s important that the City of Hoboken maintains its charm, invests in the future, and is fiscally responsible. As a member of the city council, I will work to balance competing interests for the benefit of all.

    Falco:

    As a member of city council, I am committed to investing my time to ensure that our local government is accountable to ALL of its residents, business owners, children, and senior citizens. If elected, I will be the first African American to serve the Hoboken community. I do not take this responsibility lightly, as I have a responsibility to represent this community with equity, ethics, and advocacy.

    Flett:

    My wife Michelle told me that I “either have to stop complaining or do something”. Well, here I am. I hope I can help my fellow complainers.

    Hammond:

    I think it’s important for residents to know that I am a partner in this effort. I am not looking to dictate policy, but rather to bring people together and empower them with access to the tools that are necessary to work toward common goals and unity. As elected officials, our role is to be an advocate for the people, and to listen to the issues that impact our residents on a day-to-day basis. This level of democratic decision making is what drives good governance. We all live here and care for our homes, the environment, the economic viability, and so much more. The community must be involved in democratic decision making, and we cannot afford to make top-down decisions with little regard for the impact on citizens.

    Impastato:

    For the last 2 months, almost every day at 5:30pm I have gone out walking in Hoboken to knock on doors all over town. I introduce myself and I explain to each person why I am running for city councilman. Whether it’s discussing living conditions in the housing authority, more senior citizen programming over intense bingo, residential development in the northwest, or flooding, taxes, parking, rec programs, education or other issues, the most important attribute I extend with each knock is actually listening to what people have to say and making an honest effort to address their concerns. Seeing that so many of our neighbors share my own frustration in these problems going unaddressed for so long just fuels me to work even harder so I can get to a place where I can help bring about changes we deserve. We need vision, we need energy, and we need professional execution in city projects, budgets and services. I want Hoboken to know that I am listening, and when elected on November 7th I will make sure we are all heard.

    Jabbour:

    I have always been active in my local community, going back to volunteering with True Mentors before I had kids – running for City Council is a next step in that journey, and I think I have a unique perspective to bring. I started my career as a civil servant under the Bush Administration, then Obama, and now Trump. At the end of the day, I’m accountable to the American public, so even when I may not agree with someone’s policies, I have to find a way to build consensus and move forward. I founded the Hudson County Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after learning that my daughter (then in Pre-K) was participating in monthly active shooter drills. This national bipartisan organization did not have a presence in Hudson County when I reached out to them – so I stood up and volunteered to be that leader.

    Matthews:

    My goal is to help the people of the city because I care about making Hoboken a more livable, and vibrant city. I am confident that Anthony Romano can take Hoboken to an even greater level, and that David Mello, Laini Hammond and I would work very hard as a team to earn the trust of everyone in the city.

    Mello:

    Candidate declined to comment.

    Starace:

    My wife and I moved to Hoboken when she was pregnant with our first child. We always viewed Hoboken as a place where we felt a strong sense of community, neighborly love, and a great place to raise a family. It’s important that the City of Hoboken maintains its charm, invests in the future, and is fiscally responsible. As a member of the city council, I will work to balance competing interests for the benefit of all.

    Valente:

    My wife Jane and I are both from generations of Hoboken families and are raising our three teenage daughters here. I decided to run for city council as an Independent because I believe that our city deserves leaders with passion and vision – whose only special interest will be the residents of our great city. Whether you chose to live in Hoboken one year ago or your family has lived here over one hundred years, the future belongs to all of us. On November 7th, I hope that you include me as one of your three choices for the Hoboken City Council guaranteeing an independent voice for you.

    And that is just a peek inside the minds and strategies of our council candidates — so now you have a decision to make. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

    Check out the Hoboken Mayoral Race 2017 and our intro to candidates.


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HobokenGirl.com. She started the site to discover the wealth of fun things happening in Hoboken and Jersey City and surrounding Hudson County areas. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog Pierre + rescue pup Finn, or watching some really bad {but oh-so-good} reality TV and ordering takeout with her husband.


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