Hoboken Councilman DeFusco WILL NOT Run For Mayor, This Year

Hoboken’s 1st Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco, a mayoral candidate four years ago, announced today in a statement that he has decided against running for Mayor in the upcoming November election.  His decision not to challenge incumbent Mayor Ravi Bhalla was made in his newsletter to his constituents.

It’s certainly been a hectic few days and I hope you are safe and have not been too negatively impacted by this weekend’s storm and related flooding. With the November election nearly upon us, I wanted to quickly provide you with an update on where I stand.

AN UPDATE ON THE NOVEMBER MAYORAL ELECTION

I first ran for City Council against a 21-year incumbent because I knew Hoboken and First Ward residents were ready for new energy and new ideas. I’m so incredibly proud to have brought creative and thoughtful policy to our mile square, including expanded business districts, improved pedestrian safety, lowered taxes and investment in green space, like a new downtown dog park. This advocacy has been, and remains, the honor of my life. I’ve never been more energized to continue fighting to improve my neighbors’ quality of life and to be a voice for accountability in City Hall.

Many know me as a passionate and effective politician, but at times over the past few years, politics became a toxic force in my life. Mental health isn’t something you typically hear those in elected office talk about but today, it’s a topic I want to address. I’ll be honest, when I lost the 2017 mayoral election by 400 votes after being wrongfully associated with a racist attack on the now Mayor, it impacted me dramatically.

Politically, the two years that followed were wildly successful for me: I lead a referendum to bring democracy back to our elections, held the administration accountable for overspending, defended our hardworking City employees when they faced unnecessary layoffs, and spoke out against the Mayor’s broken campaign promise to serve in a full time capacity. But while I was politically strong, my personal life and mental health suffered. I gained 40 pounds, my eight-year relationship ended when I ran for re-election, and I lost touch with many of the things that mattered most to me outside of public service. 

I knew that I needed to make a change, so shortly before the pandemic, I decided to concentrate more on policy and less on political noise. I also invested in myself and elevated my health, my family and my career in ways that I hadn’t since before I was elected to City Council. This investment has paid off — I was nominated for two Emmy Awards, regained strength through daily workouts, spent more time with my aging parents and young nieces, and expanded my advocacy efforts volunteering at an LGBTQ+ center in Colombia for Venezuelan migrant youth. All of this while still maintaining my strong commitment to Hoboken, and my neighbors. But although my efforts shifted, others’ did not and the callous and destructive attacks on my personal life from the Mayor and his allies continued at a feverish pace. Consistently, my reaction has been to avoid the toxicity of their predatory politics and I still refuse to let it back into my life.   

For all the reasons above, as I shared with those closest to me a few months ago, I have decided not to run for Mayor this November. Many of my neighbors and supporters have reached out to me in recent weeks urging me to toss my hat into the ring again. This support has meant everything to me and actually briefly made me reconsider my decision. But for now, I’m looking forward to continuing to bring my healthy spirit — new energy and new ideas — to the City Council and also to the upcoming City Council race.

But to be clear, don’t count me out for mayor in four years time.

As of this date, there are no announced challengers to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is seeking a second term in office after serving on the City Council.