Grist for the Mill: Rebirth of Reform?

Tonight the last of the four major mayoral candidates, City Council President Jen Giattino is hosting a kick-off for her launch tonight at Moran’s.

This won’t be your typical reform movement kick-off. With four major campaigns in the mix, there’s a sense anyone can emerge between now and November and win the chair to the mayor’s office on the second floor at City Hall.

This of course is nothing like what anyone has seen since the fall of 2009 when Reform united under one banner behind Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the unlikely mayoral candidate who threw in her hat to claim that mantle. The quiet council member as many saw her, was viewed as the silent one among two reform oriented members coming on board in the 2007 election and the current senior reform statesman Peter Cunningham. When Dawn Zimmer got ahead of the competition declaring her intent for mayor, many Hoboken observers saw her dividing the nascent reform movement’s effectiveness by splitting it with another now notorious name: Beth Mason.

Apologies to those having a late lunch. The horse just threw up a little with the afternoon Lasix. Early 2009, the sense of fear there was a reform split mirrors the concerns today. Both mayoral races then and now featured multiple mayoral candidacies and some bit players thought inconsequential. In the spring of 2009 however there wasn’t four major mayoral candidates dividing two major camps as today.

Beth Mason’s mayoral campaign polled as likely in shouting distance of winning the spring mayoral election outright on the first ballot but crashed and burned plunging harder than the Hindenburg. Former mayor and felon Peter Cammarano exploded out of the gate in the first round running neck and neck with then councilwoman Dawn Zimmer, both seeing well over 3,000 votes. Beth Mason came in a distant third with less than half of the votes of each of the top runoff candidates and would reportedly suffer a nervous breakdown. After her crushing defeat, Mason disappeared for almost four days and some say she had to be carried out of her bedroom by two assistants several days later. She would never forget or forgive the defeat emerging as a linchpin underwriting the Russo Clan and hating Hoboken residents’ guts. On the way, she literally tried to destroy the Mile Square City, its hospital, publicly backed a frivolous lawsuit against residents and bloggers and lashed out against those she thought stood in the way of her believed entitlement.

Fast forward to 2017 with Mayor Zimmer who looked like no one wanted to get into the ring and compete this November. Her sudden withdrawal and the expected baton toss to her ally Councilman Ravi Bhalla didn’t go off as planned and the botched power play created resistance clearly miscalculated among her inner circle. Enter City Council President Jen Giattino and the Hoboken reform resistance.

Tonight at Moran’s, that resistance and with it a new energy for reform will take shape. Both City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilman Ravi Bhalla are seeking to breathe new ideas and a new energy in a post Mayor Zimmer political universe in the Mile Square City.

The idea of a sheer Reform split may however prove a misnomer, exactly as it did in 2009.

Grist for the Mill is MSV’s rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to All email is kept confidential and is protected by Da Horsey’s proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.

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