In what will be one of her last moves as Mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer has rejected the Hoboken City Council’s 7-2 decision to put forth a referendum to restore runoff elections in municipal contests.
Zimmer opted not to run for re-election this year. On January 1st, she will be succeeded by Ravi Bhalla—the candidate she supported in the recent, very contentious election. Bhalla defeated five other candidates, but only managed to secure 32.75% of the vote. Councilman Michael DeFusco, who came in second with 29.6%, put forth the referendum, saying, “I believe reinstating runoff elections is essential to bringing new energy and new ideas to our political discourse.”
The outgoing Mayor, however, sees the move from a different point of view.
In her veto statement, Zimmer says, “This Ordinance was passed in the immediate aftermath of a hotly contested election, in which Mayor Elect Bhalla won with approximately 33% of the vote. It was sponsored by the candidate who finished 2nd, almost 500 votes behind. It was adopted by a lame duck City Council, in the last City Council meeting of the year. Every single Councilperson who voted in support of this Ordinance was either a losing candidate in the election, or actively supported a losing candidate.
This hurried way this Ordinance was handled reflects the personal frustrations of those dissatisfied with the election result. Indeed, it appears to be an attempt to de-legitimize the election of Mayor Elect Bhalla. I suspect that the losing cand idates would have a far more favorable view of our existing system had they won in November, even if the victory was achieved with as little as 29.5% of the vote, the total received by Councilman DeFusco, who is the sponsor of this Ordinance.”
DeFusco has responded in kind:
After City Council passed ordinance for Runoff referendum 7-2 this week Mayor @dawnzimmernj just vetoed the measure as one of her last acts in office, on the Friday afternoon before holiday. Merry Christmas democracy! Will reintroduce in 2018 @HudsonCoView @hMAG @hudson_reporter
— Michael DeFusco (@mike_defusco) December 22, 2017
… and a Happy New Year.