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War of (Online) words is over, for now

Finally tonight we’ll get to hear words directly from the candidates with both on the stage together facing the voters.  Up to this point, people have had mostly a filter of campaigns and other voices speaking for candidates from the mayor on behalf of Mike Lenz to former Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons backing Tim Occhipinti.

The debate scheduled for 7:30 at the Jubilee Center on 6th and Jackson is in the heart of where the machine generates its illicit paper ballots.  So be prepared to hear an emotional, vocal, “locked-in” audience getting behind the challenger.  That’s how the Old Guard rolls and they will be sure to have their bought and paid voices in attendance.

But how does the debate shape up?  Expectations are always a factor and Councilman Mike Lenz has faced down many a challenge in public forums, most recently in the challenging quagmire of the City Council.  He is expected to not have much trouble distinguishing his record this past year on the Council against Tim Occhipinti’s volunteer website.

Occhipinti has studied government and is expected to speak well on the issues even being just a three year resident of Hoboken.  After all, the newcomer sought this position and needs to show why he should be given the right to put his hands on a $100 million budget.  Mike Lenz has demonstrably showed he’s a big asset on budget matters with his history as a municipal financial whiz while Tim needs to show some coherence on those issues.

On the other current issues of the day, it will be interesting to see what is presented as new.  Occhipinti claims to be independent but ask anyone where he is independent of the Old Guard and the Russo-Mason faction and you’ll draw nothing but a blank.  Funny just the other day when MSV took the photo outside the Russo Civic Association, right above the whiteboard saying “Vote for Occhipinti” was a sign from another campaign for Theresa Castellano proclaiming, you guessed it, independence.

Is that the “brand” of independence we’re talking about?

Since the summer we’ve seen any number of issues brought to the table from the Occhipinti for Council team.  From the pool at the Boys and Girls Club to a soccer field to the Sinatra roadway collapse, nothing has the ring of leadership.  Sadly, it all has the ring of disingenuous “fact” we’ve seen on too many occasions in City Council grandstanding.  Is this the Occhipinti “brand” we can expect to see on the City Council?  If so, a swing vote in favor of this condescension to the Hoboken voter is going to make for a very bad mixture – for all of Hoboken.

Mike Lenz on the other hand may actually suffer from being as well versed on the issues as anyone in town or being the “smartest guy in the room” in his own mind.  If he trails off into too many tangents and then pummels Occhipinti on the issues without a graceful entry, he may engender sympathy for “the underdog.”  He’ll need to walk a fine line on his tone and be careful he doesn’t loose the audience outside of the room.  Most likely, the candidates will have two minutes to answer questions.  It’s not the City Council where five minutes is the typical Mike Lenz timeline for discussion.

No matter what expectations are in this debate, the election may in fact turn on its outcome.  Each side will be looking to declare victory.  In the end, which side will be inspired to GOTV (Get out the vote) after tonight may be the best indicator of who’s won.

Talking Ed Note: People for Open Government (POG) is looking to do a live stream and the Hoboken Journal intends to do a live blog from that feed.  If for some reason POG can’t, Da Horsey will be stepping up.  MSV exclusively showed Gov. Christie’s visit to Hoboken for a tax cap earlier.

The debate at the Jubilee Center is not the candidate’s first debate, it will in fact be the second of the day.  The Hudson Reporter is hosting the first debate earlier.  The Jersey Journal debate traditionally held at its location in Jersey City is now off the table.  MSV has heard that Occhipinti for Council declined the request.

An earlier request for a live online debate with MSV, Hoboken Patch, the Hoboken Journal, the Boken was also turned down by the Occhipinti campaign.

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