Councilman Michael Russo is last man in as the Ravi-Russo Alliance gets dicey


With the unofficial end of summer, can exclusively report all City Council incumbents filed petitions to be on the ballot for the six council ward races this November except Councilman Michael Russo.

Russo is expected to file his required petitions along with with other council candidates today with the official deadline end of day at Hoboken City Hall.

The fifth ward appears to be the highest contested race this fall with Reform Movement stalwart Councilman Peter Cunningham announcing he would not seek a fourth term after 12 years of service.

Cunningham who earlier endorsed for re-election City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in the sixth and second wards is expected to quarterback their efforts for the anticipated entry of Tim Crowell as his replacement later today.

Crowell’s entry and evident backing by the good government – reform team trio of Cunningham, Giattino, and Fisher would mean a highly contested uptown race with three candidates. Phil Cohen and Nicola Maganuco are both already engaging with fifth ward residents for the open council seat.

Russo who will seek another four-year council term will be eyeing another run for Hoboken mayor in 2021. He faces Ron Bautista who made a vanity run for Hoboken mayor in 2017, getting a little over 200 votes in an election drawing well over 15,000.

Councilman Michael Russo stands with Mayor Ravi Bhalla as his special guest at a Hoboken Democratic meeting.
He’s expected to file today joining other incumbents and council candidates for his re-election bid this fall.

Last week, Ron Bautista’s believed campaign manager and Hoboken Democratic committeeman filed an ethics complaint against Councilman Mike DeFusco. The odd unrelated campaign activity linked to the appearance of an invitation by DeFusco to residents for a recent council meeting is considered revenge for his backing an ordinance against City Hall employees politicking on taxpayer time and resources.

Last month, the council ordinance passed 6-2, a veto-proof majority that Ravi Bhalla refused to sign but becomes effective this month. Why a campaign manager for an election would lend their name to the specious ethics complaint in another ward is raising eyebrows.

The Bhalla Administration is complaining about the good government ordinance, claiming it would limit Ravi Bhalla from taking a position on a public referendum. The City Council finds that nonsensical and void. Bhalla’s excuse not to join in closing a loophole in a common-sense good government measure is seen as the latest among his ethical lapses.

Today, Councilman Mike DeFusco requested that his opponent, the Ravi Bhalla backed council candidate Migdalia Pagan-Milano take an immediate unpaid leave of absence from her City Hall position. Pagan works for Ravi Bhalla in his newly created office of constituent services. (See below.)

Bhalla who has made massive increases in the manpower and cost of the mayor’s office after the departure of Dawn Zimmer is unlikely to support DeFusco’s request.

All of this begins what is expected to be another highly contested Hoboken election mirroring dirty tactics seen in 2017.

While Ravi Bhalla’s council ticket has not put forward a candidate for the third ward against Russo, its spokesman said over the summer there was time to identify a candidate. Most do not expect one to materialize today. Michael Russo reportedly bragged at the time he had a deal with Ravi Bhalla he would face no mayoral opponent this November.

The lines, however, are fraying since former mayor Anthony Russo was given VIP treatment and brought into the mayor’s office at Ravi Bhalla’s private swearing-in ceremony in 2017. Anthony Russo was convicted in 2004 for extortion and sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. He held office in Hoboken as mayor from 1993 to 2001.

A low-key unofficial backing of Ron Bautista by Ravi Bhalla against Russo would temper the Ravi-Russo Alliance where Russo is expected to skate to an easy victory.

Talking Ed Note: Hoboken will see one council ticket this fall backed by Ravi Bhalla. Other predictions of a Ruben Ramos headed or Ramos-DeFusco ticket fell by the wayside as 100% incorrect. Fanatical Ravibots are overlooking their record of failure and insisting it will/is happening. #FAIL 

There will be far dirtier and underhanded fabrications coming and big money from outside the Mile Square City undermining its sovereignty. Brace for impact Hoboken.

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