2017 HOBOKEN MAYORAL CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE — Karen Nason
Can you please tell our readers your name (as it appears on the ballot), and how long you’ve lived in Hoboken?
My name is Karen Nason and I have lived in Hoboken for approximately 8 years.
We recently saw a political campaign ad from 1981 that cites, “potholes,” “lack of recreation,” “sewers that cannot hold a simple rainfall,” “overworked police force,” and “enormous profits” for developers as being major issues facing Hoboken. Yet here we are—36 years later—having a lot of the same discussions. Why should voters have any faith in your campaign promises?
As a small business owner here in Hoboken, I have watched the Zimmer administration become the master of how we live, what we need (whether we like it or not), bullying small businesses and targeting those the “Zimmerites” deem not worthy of being in business. I was personally targeted in one of my businesses called “Fuse” on Newark and Park and was not afraid to call out the unfair treatment that shut “Fuse” down. I was the first to declare my candidacy for mayor and the only one who did so before Mayor Zimmer decided to drop out of the race. I was the only candidate who submitted an OPRA request for the City’s contract with SUEZ Water one year ago and I was told, incredibly, that the City did not have a copy of the contract. I was then the only one to appear in front of the City Council asking about the contract and the money involved. The response I received was that the contract could not be broken and shame on me for asking. We now see all the Council candidates campaigning on the lie that they knew nothing of this and instead are playing a blame game as Jen Giattano, Mike DeFusco, Tiffany Fisher, and Rhavi Bhalla claim they knew nothing. Not only are they claiming that, but Jen and Mike, not Rhavi, are throwing Mayor Zimmer under the bus which is so disgusting as their entire careers are due to everything Mayor Zimmer has done for them. I am the only proud Republican who does not run from my affiliation as others have done and I believe in all of us working together to achieve what is best for Hoboken. I am also the only candidate who has donated to charity, time after time after time.
Aside from the aforementioned issues, what else does the City of Hoboken need to address, and how will your administration do it?
We need to address the safety of the Hoboken residents. I would start with requiring all new buildings to be wired for security cameras on the outside façade connected to a monitoring station at police headquarters, such as is currently being done in London. It is estimated that real-time video could improve the closure rate for the detectives by approximately 75%. I would also work to have such wiring and security cameras installed in pre-existing buildings. I would work very closely with Stephens Institute, especially Dr. Alan Blumberg, a renowned ocean physicist, who has developed buoys to predict and assess storm flooding events such as from oncoming hurricanes. I would also like to work with the future Council members to bring more arts, theater and culture to the Hoboken residents. It would be wonderful to see an amphitheater, such as the one in Central Park, for concerts, symphonies, orchestras and other productions in an open space such as the Union Drydock where an amphitheater could face out onto the river.
This campaign to date has certainly been spirited, some might even say divisive. Yet win or lose, many of the candidates will still be actively involved with the administration of Hoboken after November 7th . With that in mind, how would your Mayoral administration work to move ahead the projects and services that Hoboken residents need?
First and foremost, I would hold Town Meetings so that the residents can say what they need. The problem with the current administration is that they never asked the residents what they need. Instead, the current administration decided that bike lanes were more important than maintaining the infrastructure. Also, that eight parks which have given rise to expensive (eminent domain) litigation were so important as to justify in their minds bonding issues of millions of dollars. In the end, it would all come down to working with the Council members to vote on these issues for the good of the Hoboken residents.
Everyone’s a critic. There’s no shortage of negative feedback on Hoboken’s various social media platforms—meanwhile voter turnout for municipal elections is routinely low. How would you encourage effective civic involvement in Hoboken?
I find it nearly impossible to get the average Hoboken resident to engage as they are faced with a numbing tidal wave of fliers crammed every day into their mailbox. There are astronomical amounts of money from sources outside of the community that are being spent to smear, lie about and humiliate the candidates. If I were on the outside looking in, I would be disgusted at the incredible amounts of money being spent on such divisive mailings. Not one resident has received that kind of rhetoric from me. Even if I had enormous amounts of HUDCO money, I would rather spend it on literature telling the community what can be achieved, not what is in the past. The amounts of money spent between all candidates could have paid for a public pool that is needed instead of beating the public over the head to come out and vote. I would like to think the acts of kindness that I have given to the community since I moved here eight years ago would make you want to come out and vote for me – 1H.
What do you feel is the chief criticism of your candidacy, and how would you answer that criticism?
I would like to say that the chief criticism to my candidacy is the lack of experience according to the other mayoral candidates. I would like to point out that on their watch Hoboken issued bonds in the excess of $180 million. We are as a community disgusted in the Washington Street project that is crushing business in Hoboken. As an entrepreneur since the age of 16, I have run numerous successful businesses in Portland, Maine, New York City and now in Hoboken. I believe that the City of Hoboken needs to be run as a business, not as a personal pick-and-choose administration.
Say you win… congratulations. In four years, why would the people of Hoboken re-elect you?
The people of Hoboken should only reelect me on the merits of what I achieve during the next four years.
What’s the very first thing you’ll do after being sworn in?
Last but not least, why you?
Why not me? I am the best candidate for the position and the only one who is not affiliated with the Zimmer administration.