Mayor Ravinder ‘Ravi’ Bhallaof Hoboken, New Jersey has formally announced his re-election bid, pledging to serve as a regional and national leader in a post-pandemic world. “Nearly four years ago, Hoboken residents gave me the privilege of a lifetime, electing me as mayor of our great city,” Bhalla wrote on his campaign website.“Since then we’ve come together, friends and neighbors moving our city forward in the midst of a global pandemic, creating durable quality of life improvements, while also keeping Hoboken on a sound long-term fiscal path.”The campaign will formally kick off June 24, with an event at the PilsenerHaus and Biergarten, beginning at 6 p.m.
The Indian American mayor, who was first voted into office in 2017, has the distinction of being one of the first mayors to issue “shelter-in-place” orders in March 2020, as the pandemic was making its presence known in the U.S. New York and New Jersey were hit particularly hard in the initial months of the global crisis.Bhalla also holds the distinction of being the first Sikh American directly elected to office. He won his seat in 2017, emerging victorious from a crowded field of six candidates, by earning the endorsement of former Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who decided not to seek re-election.Previously, Bhalla had served on Hoboken’s city council for six years. Bhalla serves a town that is exactly one square mile, with 55,000 residents.
A 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that more than half of the coastal city’s residents live in areas that are below five feet above-average sea level, placing them at great risk for flood damage.The city council has acquired eight acres of additional green space, some through eminent domain. The recreational spaces have another purpose: through a novel scheme, the city has incorporated storm water collection tanks underneath the park which can store up to 500 million gallons of water.The water is pumped off the street during flooding and stored in the tanks until it is treated properly, then discharged into the nearby Hudson River, explained Bhalla. “We have made the city more resilient against flooding.”
In a press statement reviewing his first term in office, Bhalla noted: “With an eye to the future, we looked at ways to create sustainable, environmentally sound infrastructure improvements that reflect the values we share as a community.”“We began construction on our historic Northwest Resiliency Park, kicked off our Rebuild by Design flood protection project, renovated our neighborhood parks, and proactively replaced aging water mains for the first time in decades. We’re creating safer streets through our Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign and a more resilient city through our Climate Action Plan.”
Bhalla, who has already secured two high-profile labor union endorsements, as well as the support of the local Police Superior Officers Association to name is few, is currently running unopposed though 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino have left open the possibility of challenging him again.While still a councilman-at-large, Bhalla won a six-way contest that included DeFusco and Giattino in November 2017. He had the support of outgoing Mayor Dawn Zimmer at the time, who unexpectedly decided not to seek a third term.
Bhalla has lived in Hoboken, New Jersey since 2000. He lives with his children, Arza and Shabegh, and his wife, Navneet (also known as Bindya), a human rights attorney.Bhalla received his undergraduate education from U.C. Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in political psychology. He later received his master’s in public administration and public policy from the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and his juris doctorate from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.