Hoboken’s 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher has analyzed the At Large Council results from Tuesday’s election in her latest newsletter:
- Money Talks – Elections are expensive and those with the most money often win. When campaign funding is limited, spending is targeted to when people are most likely to be aware and voting. Team Bhalla had the financial backing from the mayor who had about $200,000 in his arsenal and also had a professional campaign manager (the city’s communication director) being paid $10,000 per month. Seven candidates had to initially self-fund, had campaigns run by volunteers and started fundraising activities only after they were on the ballot in early September. ADVANTAGE TEAM BHALLA
- Finding Voters – Voter data is a decided advantage. Access to an app driven voter data system (aka “the van”) that directs you to voters who have the greatest probability of voting is a decided advantage. Team Bhalla was granted access to New Jersey’s statewide system and Independently Together’s request was rejected and had to purchase it through the national voter data system. My guess is the four remaining independent candidates, if at all, only accessed the county voter data which is a big spreadsheet that has not been updated for about 20% who have moved or passed away. ADVANTAGE TEAM BHALLA WITH INDEPENDENTLY TOGETHER JUST BEHIND
- Emails are Campaign Gold – The cheapest way to deliver messaging. Mayor Zimmer gave her email to Mayor Bhalla who then lent them to his candidates. Independently Together cobbled together some emails lists, but certainly not with the same reach as Team Bhalla. The other independent candidates had access to very few emails. Add to this that Mayor Bhalla has used the city’s Nixle emergency system to communicate with residents daily for the past two years and if you look closely, it was repeating the positive messages around COVID and avoiding messaging on anything controversial. ADVANTAGE TEAM BHALLA
- Timing is Everything – VBM voters were targeted first because they could vote as soon as the voter receives the ballot. Here is where Team Bhalla got a jump start and helps explain a lot of the gap between the incumbent-led team and the others:
- ballots hit mailboxes on September 28th
- with funds, a marketing firm and campaign manager on retainer, Team Bhalla had their websites up early and sent three city wide mailers (@ ~ $11K each) that hit mailboxes before the ballots arrived and importantly – before voters knew there were other candidates competing for City Council.
- Independently Together’s volunteer-led marketing effort got their website running and their first mailer to those with VBM’s four days after the ballot arrived; Ian and Cindy had their only citywide mailer out around the same time.
- In those few days where Team Bhalla was the only known candidates to most, almost six hundred people had already voted.
- Mailbox Election – Reaching Voters. Mailers are expensive – printing and postage combined costs about $.60 per mailer and the design costs another $.50 at least. I counted eleven city-wide mailers by Team Bhalla that my guess is cost $125,000. Independently together sent five which I estimate to be around $30,000 as they had volunteers do the design. And Ian and Cindy sent one together – a clever one that could be opened and use as a window sign on the back (note to self…) – that probably cost around $12,000. Can you see how money talks in an election? ADVANTAGE TEAM BHALLA
- Lack of any proactive steps to everyday flooding. We learned in this election is that the NHSA only cleans out our sewers once every three years. This seems like a logical place we could make a change that could have an immediate, big impact.
- Vanishing parking spaces and more cars. Lack of parking singly impacts the quality life of most people in Hoboken every day. The solution cannot just be a war on cars, it has to include an understanding of this necessary amenity for so many of our residents and a focus on solving.
- Feeling that our streets and sidewalks are less safe. Vision Zero can no longer be only bump outs and resurfaced roads. It must include resident input to create a culture of safety that residents deserve which includes reduced speed limits, all-way stops at intersections and more enforcement of our traffic laws.
- Little vision around development and its impact on the community. Team Bhalla said more development will improve everyday flooding. I can tell you that no discussion exists around the impact of significantly increasing our population and what demand does to our sewers, our water, our traffic congestion and the capacity within our schools.
- No focus on affordability concerns. Concerns about rising rents, rising property taxes, low wages, rising transportation and parking costs and rising food prices impact Hoboken residents of all income levels. This administration’s response to date has been to gut the rent stabilization office, offer rent relief that favors landlords, and hire an inexperienced elected official to run a new housing division (to keep her from running in this past election). This. Just. Needs. To. Change.
- Insufficient recreation offerings. The Bhalla administration needs to stop making redevelopment decisions as election driven ones and actually sit down and plan for the needs of our community including a state of the art community center and pool. We have literally made zero headway in four years. Whether it is working with the team at the former Y to rebuild it or building a new community center next to the NW Park, or both. Hoboken needs to figure out how to make this happen ASAP.
- Homelessness. As Paul Presinzano said during a campaign debate, for such an important issue, we need to have more than a headline grabbing task force that has only met three times since 2018 and whose only accomplishment was these “homelessness donation meters” in December 2018:
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Good luck to All.