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High stakes in the fourth ward special election

The fourth ward is gearing up for a decisive battle in a special election November 2nd and the machinations of power are already lining up for war over the fifth and decisive swing vote on the City Council.

The fourth ward is from a political standpoint demographics hell with a mixed cocktail of every interest group with varying economic interests ranging from safety to a wider range of services and needs distinct from the rest of town.  With the past manipulations of a Hoboken Housing Authority population always at the ready for the service of machine plantation owners, the battle always must begin with concerns on street money absentee ballot fraud, so commonplace, one standby candidate for city wide and Board of Ed elections shamelessly proclaims himself, “the king of absentee ballots.”

Another prominent monied City Councilwoman followed that handbook to perfection there, dumping thousands of dollars into checks made out to “cash” in her 2009 mayoral runs.  How’s that self-investigation on street money going Beth?

In this incendiary backdrop, the question of the day: what’s the winning formula in total number of votes?  If recent history is any marker, it’s in the ballpark of about 1100 to claim victory.  But how would a 350 vote (or more) head start impact the race, the disproportionate number of absentee ballots from that area of the city alone in the spring BoE race?

Politickernj posted a story claiming an Occhipinti supporter bragged there was over
six-hundred absentee ballots lined up but the actual ballots haven’t been printed.  Tim Occhipinti’s comment on the matter of absentee ballots though in an earlier Hoboken Patch story was less than reassuring, unless you find his generic disavowal comforting.  Absentee ballot specialist Ryan Yacco, who recently worked on both Peter Cammarano and Beth Mason’s 2009 mayoral campaigns is already on board with Team Occhipinti, so it should be interesting how a candidate might pretend the arrival of hundreds of “campaign workers” ballots on election day is some shocking event he has no hand in whatsoever.  (In the mayoral election last year, Peter Cammarano’s absentee ballot total exceeded eight percent of his total vote citywide.)

The nasty minions of Hoboken411 following orders from the altar of paymaster Beth Mason ordered the democratic process in Hoboken be ignored along with Republican committee candidate James Sanford.* If you didn’t get the memo, Timothy Occhipinti is the unofficial “Council of No” and Old Guard candidate, deemed the man for the job, even if only temporarily to take down fourth ward councilman Mike Lenz.  A rumor floated among Occhipinti backers suggests another more pliable, seasoned candidate could be easily injected for the spring run, by just removing support, financial and otherwise.  A number of people are standing in the wings eager and available for just such an opportunity.

Councilman Mike Lenz at the last City Council meeting.  

With the anti-Zimmer elements aligning if for no other reason than a weariness of recent defeats to reform, the fourth ward Councilman has a real challenge on his hands.  His earlier run for this seat in 2001 failed badly against Chris Campos.  The battle of wills between City Hall and the police unions on reorganizing the top heavy department may inject another area for rancor into what is historically a challenging seat for reform, the banner of the mayor being held up as the top flag in the race.

Former Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons is heavily involved running Tim Occhipinti’s campaign.  He addressed the issue of who is authorized to speak about absentee ballots generation to Al Sullivan in the Hudson Reporter.  Fitzgibbons is not so fondly remembered among many as the person who laid the groundwork for Peter Cammarano’s entry into Hoboken politics and is tied closely to the HCDO.  The HCDO had provided most of the money for his election to Freeholder.

With the backing of the Old Guard such as former council president Richard Del Bochio and still unknown funding sources, Tim Occhipinti just opened new fancy headquarters on Monroe Street Saturday.  He’s gearing up to take a shot at Lenz in the political consultant Paul Swibinski stylebook of ex-mayor Peter Cammarano.  Sell youthful appeal to the scant paying attention urban professionals while embracing all the old Hoboken methods, practices and attitudes grabbing as much cash out of their pockets as possible while telling them all the while you are just like them.

Will that formula work? Well it doesn’t need to if it damages Lenz enough that he barely makes it across the finish line and he looks ready to teeter over by the required election next May when Terry “that voice” LaBruno and others may lie in wait.  For the Old Guard, that may be good enough but in the interim they are working behind the scenes to raise money to make a run on behalf of Occhipinti.  Maurice Fitzgibbons is the man behind the Cammarano poster child strategy but he doesn’t have the money access to get Tim the loot to make a serious challenge.  Who does?

The NJ ELEC report won’t be required for a spell and even an earlier report is often inconclusive and can mask funding until a later required filing.  Mike Novak is one notable person in town who has been active in trying to take some big shots at Mayor Dawn Zimmer, first in supporting Kim Glatt’s mayoral bid last fall after his close alliance with Peter Cammarano ended with him walking around shellshocked for some time after the FBI’s Hoboken visit.  His entry now on behalf of Tim Occhipinti could very well be full throttle.

Of course they say sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s another.

Tim  Occhipinti talking with Ricky Mason after the 9-11 ceremony at Pier A.  Last spring Beth Mason said she was remaining neutral on the BoE race before a check for $5700 eventually showed up for Real Results from her family.  

Money is of course the mother’s milk of politics but Michael Lenz has a new quiver in his bow: Sam Briggs.  The former campaign manager in Dawn Zimmer’s 2009 mayoral runs, Briggs is back in Hoboken and brings not only superb on the ground execution and day to day message control, but a youthful energy necessary to rekindle support in the reform community.  Some of the support for Lenz’s run was stalled when he failed expectations on spearheading long time ally Tony Soares to a second board position on the City Council to the disappointment of many in reform.

For Hoboken the immediate momentum of the future is now weighted by the outcome of the 4th ward November 2nd election.  The first debate is now scheduled for October 13th at the Jubilee Center.  The results there should prove defining.

Talking Ed Note: MSV extended invitations to Tim Occhipinti to submit a written piece for publication on the issue of the surplus earlier.  At the last city council meeting a brief conversation on that topic led to Tim suggesting we revisit that topic later.

* MSV had also wanted to extend a similar invitation to James Sanford but according to the Jersey Journal he’s pulling out of the race and reconsidering for the round next spring. According to their story, he directed comments to the 4th ward residents stating:


… “after careful consideration I have concluded that the remaining time before the election is not enough for us to truly learn to get to know each other. The 4th Ward deserves more. Therefore, I’ve decided that now is not the time to seek a seat on the city council.”

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