Stevens Hosts Heated Mayoral Candidates Forum

photo by Monica Moser

The Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition and the Student Government Association co-hosted a Hoboken Mayoral Candidates Forum in DeBaun Auditorium on Wednesday, October 25. This event invited all six of the Hoboken mayoral candidates to answer questions submitted by the audience upon entering. The audience consisted of Stevens students and Hoboken residents. The six candidates in the 2017 Hoboken Mayoral elections are Ronald Bautista, Ravi Bhalla, Michael DeFusco, Jennifer Giattino, Karen Nason, and Anthony Romano.

Student Government Association President Tommy Daly welcomed the crowd, highlighting the recent increase of student participation in Hoboken city affairs. Notably, the SGA’s Municipal Affairs Ad-hoc Committee has initiated Project 1870, a student voter registration drive with the goal of 1870 Stevens students registered to vote in Hoboken.

Helen Manogue, Head of the Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition, spoke about the recent work by the Coalition, which has hosted public forums for mayoral elections for decades. Manogue introduced moderator Bob Bowdon, who has previously moderated past forums.

Each candidate gave an opening statement, laying out fundamental ideas of their platforms to the public. Bowdon asked several rounds of questions to the candidates, who answered in random order. After all of the candidates answered, each candidate was allowed one chance to rebut.

Topics included taxes, flooding, the Washington Street Redesign, infrastructure, Hoboken recreation, and (on a lighter note) their favorite takeout restaurants in Hoboken.

Throughout the evening, some candidates were not afraid to directly call out their opponents. Many cited actions and decisions that were made by their opponents while they served on City Council, the School Board, or other positions in local government or civic duty. The majority of accusations came from Councilman DeFusco in his opening statement. While most candidates attempted to refute these, Councilman Ballah remained silent on one specific issue. When DeFusco accused Ballah’s Lawfirm of accepting lobbying fees from Suez water, Ballah did not attempt to respond.

While ideologies differed concerning top development priorities, they all agreed that infrastructure (including flooding management) and city recreation need improvement. They also agreed that the current construction on Washington Street is inconvenient and not well managed, however, they differed on the ways it could be managed more efficiently.

The election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.