Mayor Dawn Zimmer won an early battle in her fight to keep control of the Hoboken Democratic Party this week, when nine candidates on an opposing slate for party committee were removed from the ballot.
The official Democratic Party committee consists of one man and one woman from each district from Hoboken's six wards, totalling 72 members. Zimmer is being challenged by a slate which has won the endorsement of the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
The mayor's group, Democrats for Honest Government, initially challenged 20 of their opponents, according to current Party Treasurer Gary Holtzman. The request was denied by City Clerk Jimmy Farina. After the superintendent of elections granted the challenges, Holtzman said, Farina researched the names and removed nine people from the slate. Those seats will be empty on election day on June 7.
According to a letter signed by Farina, four First Ward candidates were removed from the list, as well as one Second Ward, two Fourth Ward, a Fifth Ward and three Sixth Ward candidates (the letter is attached to this story).
"Incredibly, of the 9 individuals that have been removed from the HCDO line as a result of our successful challenge, several were actually registered Republicans when they submitted their petitions to run," said Hoboken Party Chairman Ravi Bhalla in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. "Others were not even registered to vote, and still others were registered as unaffiliated rather than Democrats."
The other two candidates who were challenged, John Castellano—son of Councilwoman Teri Castellano—and his female counterpart, Eileen Carvalho, both in the First Ward, remain on the ballot.
Earlier this month, the HCDO slate was endorsed by Chairman and Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. The "line" (which is Democratic party jargon for the slate that is endorsed by the party) and Hoboken party chairman Bhalla. In most other towns, the local mayor holds "the line."
"It's a pretty egregious situation," Holtzman said. "It begs the question: why would the county chairman, without research or anything else, be backing a slate of people where nine of them are confirmed invalid?"
The HCDO slate was compiled of 60 candidates, as filed with the City Clerk on Monday April 11, committeewoman Ines Garcia Keim said in an earlier interview. The Democrats for Honest Government slate is made up of 59 people.
Bhalla and Ramos in June.