Young Councilman Seeks Mayoralty Of Young City

By John Celock

A thirty something councilman in New Jersey is seeking to unseat the mayor of one of the state’s youngest cities.

Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco (D) announced Monday that he would seek to unseat Mayor Dawn Zimmer (D) in November’s nonpartisan election. DeFusco, who was elected to the Council two years ago with Zimmer’s backing, seeks to run a city that has become a hub for New York City area young professionals.

“There are many areas where our city can serve you better,” DeFusco said in an announcement video.

DeFusco has long been expected to take on Zimmer as the incumbent seeks her third term in City Hall. DeFusco has been establishing relationships with some in Hoboken’s long time political class, who have long viewed Zimmer, a pubic relations executive turned stay at home mother and activist, warily.

Zimmer though starts the election as the frontrunner, with popularity among many young families in the city and an alliance with state Sen. Brian Stack (D), who has endorsed her bid for a third term, which will likely put Stack’s powerful get out the vote operation at Zimmer’s disposal in November.

Zimmer has been mayor since August 2009, when she succeeded former Mayor Peter Cammarano III (D) in the job after Cammarano’s resignation following federal corruption charges. Zimmer has since won election to the job in 2009 and 2013, following a loss to Cammarano in the June 2009 election. Hoboken changed its municipal elections from June to November starting in 2013.

In his announcement, DeFusco touched on a series of issues he’d like to address in the city, including the construction of a new police station, investment in children’s programs, the construction of a new high school, opening a market in Hoboken’s train terminal and bringing wineries and microbreweries to the city. DeFusco also said that Zimmer has neglected flooding and water mane issues in the city.

“These issues have gone unresolved by our long term mayor, Dawn Zimmer, who is seeking a third term and asking voters to extend her time in office to almost 13 years,” he said.

DeFusco is seeking to pull off the same sort of election that Cammarano did in 2009, when the then 31-year-old Cammarano was elected by combining an appeal to young professionals with one to lifelong Hoboken residents. Cammarano, the city’s youngest mayor, only served one month in office before his resignation.

Zimmer was elected to the City Council in 2007, representing southwest Hoboken, based largely on an activist platform, including addressing flooding in that section of the city. She surprised many by advancing to the 2009 mayoral runoff with Cammarano and then electing her allies to the City Council that year while losing the mayoral race. Zimmer then became city council president, an office which allowed her to step in when Cammarano resigned.

Zimmer’s tenure in City Hall has been dominated by emergencies, with Zimmer leading the city though Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the fatal train derailment at Hoboken Terminal last year. She has been an advocate for disaster preparedness as mayor.