Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer will not pursue re-election to the office she has held since 2009. During a Tuesday morning press conference outside city hall, Zimmer endorsed Council President Ravi Bhalla for the job.
“I am very comfortable in making this decision because Ravi Bhalla is stepping forward to run for mayor,” she said.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, Zimmer seemed ready to run for another term. She had held events with influential Hudson County Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson) and with Democratic nominee for governor Phil Murphy. But, on Tuesday, Zimmer credited President Donald Trump’s environmental policy as part of her decision to leave office.
“While our city is on the right track, the country no longer is,” she said. “With president Trump having pulled our country out of the Paris accord, demonstrating a lack of commitment to addressing this critical issue at the federal level, I have decided that it is time for me to take on a new role working more directly on this important issue. Once I complete my mayoral term —which I will be here for another six months to complete my term— I will decide on the best way that I can devote my time and energy to the fight against climate change.”
Zimmer’s unexpected departure from Hoboken has led to speculation that she might be in consideration for a position in Murphy’s administration. On Tuesday, Zimmer said she has no position lined up. For now, she said, she plans to focus on resiliency efforts in the Hudson River city until she leaves office.
Bhalla, a long-time Zimmer ally, will now face a crowded field in the November municipal election. That field includes business owner Karen Nason, activist Ronald Batista and Councilman Michael DeFusco, a former Zimmer ally who was first elected to office in 2015 as a part of Zimmer’s slate. Freeholder Anthony Romano is also reportedly weighing an entrance into the race but his possible candidacy is complicated by the fact that he won the Democratic primary for county freeholder earlier this month and is slated to appear on the primary ballot for that position this November.
Bhalla said that his decision to enter the race stems from a desire to continue moving Hoboken forward after Zimmer’s departure.
“I am here today to announce the I am running for mayor of the city of Hoboken, the city where I chose to put my roots down and raise a family, the city that I love,” Bhalla said. “Under the leadership of mayor zimmer we have transformed the city.”
DeFusco said that Zimmer’s departure and Bhalla’s entrance into the race does not change his strategy and that he still plans to continue “full-speed ahead.” So far, DeFusco has been successfully fundraising and had raised $90,000 as of April according to filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“I think Hoboken voters are looking for a breath of fresh air in city hall, and I don’t think most people see Ravi Bhalla as a vehicle for that,” DeFusco said. “I’ve said from the start we need to challenge the status quo, but Ravi seems to me like a step back even from where we are now.”
News that Zimmer would not be pursuing re-election was first reported by InsiderNJ late on Monday evening.