HOBOKEN – At a Wednesday night ward forum at the Washington Street Elk’s Lodge hosted by the Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition candidates and councilmembers from wards 2, 5 and 6 answered questions from the public in hopes of winning their votes on November 3.
Ward 2 hopefuls Peter Biancomano and Bonnie Murray (Tiffanie Fisher had another engagement), Ward 5 councilman Peter Cunningham and candidate Eduardo Gonzalez and Ward 6 councilwoman Jen Giattino and candidate Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia all fielded questions on topics ranging from business development in Hoboken, reforms to the Hoboken Parking Authority, park and road maintenance, how to avoid flooding and even what their favorite restaurant was in the small but commerce-heavy city.
Tension was high between Gonzalez—a former Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner and current chair on the Board of Trustees at Elysian Charter School—and current councilmember Cunningham as they duked it out over issues that would impact the fifth ward.
“Gonzalez has done a great job with Elysian Charter School but he also has a history with the Hoboken Housing Authority,” Cunningham said. “I’m not sure which Gonzalez we are going to get.”
Cunningham’s statements came after the two vocalized disagreements about how new parcels of land should be acquired but the city. According to Gonzalez, the council should work with developers in an attempt to incorporate no-cost open space into development plans. For Cunningham, however, that would be setting a bad precedent and giving developers too much control.
“Nothing comes for free,” Cunningham said.
Similar tensions were obvious between Ward 6 candidates Giattino and Garcia.
Garcia cited Giattino’s “lack of responsiveness” when moderator Bob Bowdon asked about biggest disagreements with competitors.
Giattino fired back, “I disagree that I am never around.”
“It is interesting because I haven’t seen him around until the past six months when he decided to run,” she said. “Now, all of a sudden, everyone in the 6th Ward is getting birthday cards.”
Garcia left the debate early due to a previous engagement.
Though Biancomano and Murray are vying for the same position, the two agreed that their platforms were similar. They believe that some of the most important issues in the second ward center around the Monarch project, affordable housing and park/road maintenance.
Both Cunningham and Giattino pushed the progress they have made on the BASF project as a central point to why they should be elected again. Both stressed that they project should be seen to completion. Giattino also discussed her stance on holding the line on taxes while Cunningham focused on the city’s improved bond rating as reasons warranting reelection.
The debate was set up like a forum where candidates were asked questions in a random order that shifted each round. Community members wrote questions on cards that were then sorted and asked by Bowdon.
The ward 1, 3 and 4 forum will be held on October 15.