Councilman Ravi Bhalla: “I’m running” for NJ Assembly seat

In a surprise announcement, Councilman Ravi Bhalla announced yesterday he’s running for the 33rd Assembly District seat.

In a phone inteview on his return from Trenton after filing for the upcoming primary scheduled the same day as the Hoboken Democratic Committee election, Councilman Bhalla gave a succinct reason for his entry.  “I’m running because Hoboken needs another choice, an alternative to Assemblyman Ramos.”

Assemblyman Ruben Ramos is viewed as closely aligned with Union City Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack while Councilman Bhalla is an ally of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Explaining his decision to get into the race and taking the Hudson County establishment by surprise, Councilman Bhalla added, “We need an Assemblyman working with the mayor, not against her.”

Recent redistricting earlier this month in New Jersey may have enticed Councilman Bhalla to jump into the Assembly race.  West New York and Guttenberg were shifted from the 33rd district while areas more favorable to a reform candidate in Jersey City bordering Hoboken were added.

Hoboken has in recent years worked to build advantage by working better on the state level where municipal funding has been critical such as aiding the local hospital.  Mayor Dawn Zimmer broke with some expectations working with Gov. Christie after his election on a tool kit to help municipalities gain control over skyrocketing taxes.

Over the last two years, the State has given Hoboken University Medical Center generous grants helping the hospital to stay in operation.  Typically, those grants are given in one year not two consecutive.

Should Councilman Bhalla win the seat, he’d resign his current Hoboken Council seat.

Talking Ed Note:  This caught a lot of people by surprise and made the phone lines from Trenton burn up when Councilman Ravi Bhalla appeared to file his papers for the election.

A critical sidebar to this filing is the Hoboken Democratic Committee. The primary will be on the same day as that election.  Ravi Bhalla is the current chair and wants to retain the new rules barring developer monies flooding into Hoboken via the local party.

Rumors abound Mike Novak and Union City Mayor Brian Stack want to overturn reform’s control of the local Hoboken Democratic Party.  Suggestions are afloat the rules would be reverted to allow monies from outside Hoboken to again enter the town’s elections.

At the same time, Brian Stack has been rumored to be talking to current Hoboken Democratic Committee members in Hoboken to change sides.  Last year Reform claimed a victory in a series of local election victories before the heavily contested special election in the 4th ward saw Tim Occhipinti take the seat in a controversial election with voter fraud concerns reaching the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

Due to time constraints MSV did not reach Assemblyman Ruben Ramos’ office for comment.

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