Councilman Ravi Bhalla is running for mayor of Hoboken. “Yes, I’m running for mayor,” Bhalla said. A longtime ally of the siting mayor’s, attorney Bhalla first won his council seat in 2009, running on the Zimmer ticket. This June 20, Bhalla announced his bid for Mayor of Hoboken, and since then a slew of endorsements starting with the current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, have been pouring in.
“I am very comfortable in making this decision because Ravi Bhalla is stepping forward to run for mayor,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said.
The only Indian-American Sikh Councilman and elected official in Hoboken’s history has made a name for himself fighting publicly against racism and because of his accomplishments on the council which News India Times and Desi Talk in New York have reported on previously.
Just this April, Bhalla was campaigning hard for his third term as Councilman-at-large for the Nov. 7 elections. But with Zimmer declaring she will not run for another term, and endorsing Bhalla, he is gunning for the top office. Several other candidates are in the running or considering it, including Hoboken Council President Jen Giattino, a Republican, and community organizer Ronald Bautista.
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.”