HOBOKEN- Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33) is running to represent Hoboken’s 6th Ward on the City Council because he believes he transcends divisions in Hoboken between long-time residents and the younger, more-recently-arrived families and Manhattan commuters. Despite past tensions with Mayor Dawn Zimmer—a representative of Hoboken’s new faction—and former state Senator Bernie Kenny—a lifer—Garcia said he has the “distinction” and experience to change the Hoboken council.
“I have lived in Hoboken my entire life but I also have the distinction of my pedigree from Harvard, Stevens, and Seton Hall. I am a hybrid,” said Garcia at his Wednesday night campaign kickoff announcement at Hoboken’s Church Square Park. “If I am elected it will no longer be about ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It will be about effective representation that will get things done.”
Chris Campos is a former 4th Ward Councilman who now works with Garcia’s campaign. Campos agrees with Garcia’s opinion that he is the representative that can bridge gaps between old and new Hoboken residents.
“It was a diverse community and remains a diverse community,” Campos said. “We welcome young families and young professionals. We need someone who is in touch with both. Hoboken is a microcosm of the U.S. We have poverty. We have wealth. Carmelo is in touch with both.”
While Garcia makes the assertion that he is understands both the “old” and “new” Hoboken, he once accused Mayor Zimmer of “ethnic cleansing,” leading to his dismissal from the Housing Board. On the other side of the division, Garcia faced off against former state Senator Bernie Kenny when he recorded a conversation between the two without the Senator’s knowledge. Though past conflicts may make the race seem like a non-starter, Garcia is confident neither incident will impact his chances.
For Garcia, the event in Church Square Park and the subsequent fundraiser at the restaurant Mickie Squared—where attendance ran $300 a head—were opportunities to show the unity he so strongly feels he can bring to the Ward where he is running.
“If you look around you can see people from all different walks of life,” Garcia told PolitickerNJ in Church Square Park.
Notable attendees in the park included Ruben Ramos, a candidate for Hoboken’s 4th Ward seat who, like Garcia, once faced off against state Senator Brian Stack. After stories surfaced about the Kenny conversations, Stack booted Garcia from the LD33 ticket this year.
“We will support each other when we can but these races are so neighborhood oriented that I can’t really ask him to leave his neighborhood or vice versa,” Ramos told PolitickerNJ. “We are friends and I wish him the best.”
Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, a Republican from Burlington County, came to the Garcia fundraiser to show her support for the candidate who she also called a “friend.”
“I think he will approach this new position with the same energy and integrity he did on the Assembly,” Rodriguez-Gregg said. “I support him in this new endeavor as I know he would come out and support me.”
Other notable attendees included Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano, Ward 3 Councilman Michael Russo and rumored Ward 2 challenger and member of the Hoboken School Board Peter Biancomano.