Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) is preparing for what he hopes will be a move to Hoboken’s City Council. He recently announced his intentions to challenge incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino to represent the city’s 6th Ward.
After a contentious period where Garcia was let go from the Hoboken Housing Authority—something he called “ethnic cleansing” on the part of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer—Garcia did not to seek reelection in legislative district 33 in March. That came after the Hudson County Democratic Organization, led by Union City Mayor and state Sen. Brian Stack (D-33) decided not to reenlist his services.
For Garcia, though, these changes have all been part of the “natural progression” of his career and the move to councilmember, if elected, would be the next step in that progression.
“My heart has always been local,” said Garcia, who lives in the 6th Ward. “I always say the most powerful thing is an idea whose time has come. They Assembly has been an amazing experience and a phenomenal time in my life but, now, is the time to locally come back home and be closer.”
Garcia does not believe that his past tensions with Zimmer will be an issue when it comes time for voters to cast their ballots.
“Even though Mayor Zimmer and I have had a rocky road relationship, I will work with her because of the interests of the people that I serve,” he said. “It is not about past relationships being embattled or whatever, it is about serving my constituents.”
The challenger’s relationship with Stack and past issues with the Hudson County Democratic Organization also do not seem to be a concern for Garcia.
“Everyone I have worked with recognizes my work ethic so, yes, I believe I have the support from everyone,” said Garcia. “Brian wished me luck so, yes, I believe I have his support.”
For Garcia, facing off against incumbent Giattino is a chance to see changes made in the ward where he lives.
“Locally, we need effective representation,” he said. “My neighbors are tired. People are tired in Hoboken. They don’t feel things get fixed. Taxes are going up like crazy. There is no return on investment.”
According to Garcia, the issues in the Sixth Ward stem from Giattino’s leadership. He called her “absent” and “rubber stamp” for Zimmer’s policies.
“I am going to be a 24-hour councilman,” Garcia said. “I want to utilize social media to my constituents’ advantage. I want my constituents to be able to take a picture of a broken light and they can tweet it to me, instagram it to me or Snapchat it to me and I can get it fixed. I don’t want to tell my constituents who to call at city hall.
For Giattino, though, Garcia is a “welcome” addition to the race in the 6th Ward.
“Serving as both Councilwoman and Council President I look forward to running on my record of successfully working to secure new parks and open space as well as ensuring the upgrading of our parks, including Church Square Park, holding the line on taxes and fighting for open and cost-effective government,” she said. “There will be plenty of time to discuss our different visions for how to move Hoboken forward and our track records during the fall campaign season.”
Currently, Garcia works as the Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer for the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation. While the organization is the primary economic development catalyst in the Newark, Garcia says that Mayor Ras Baraka was not involved in his decision to run for Hoboken City Council and will not be a factor in the election or if he is elected.