Hoboken Mayoral Contest: Buoyed by Her Record, Giattino Confident of Victory

HOBOKEN – Ward 6 Councilwoman Jen Giattino, president of the local governing body, presents her record of consensus building and constituent service as her core argument for why she would be a good mayor of her Hudson County hometown.

A Seattle ballet dancer turned New York Stock Exchange broker, Giattino and her husband moved to Hoboken in 1998 and started their family. She learned discipline from dance, then sharpened her elbows on Wall Street. She retired from the financial business after 12 years when she had her third boy. In 2008, she immersed herself in the reformer candidacy of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, then snagged the 6th Ward council seat in 2011. She defeated a come-backing Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia for reelection in 2015. Giattino fully backed Zimmer for a third term this year, but then the mayor announced her decision not to run for reelection.

“Our biggest problem is planning and not looking at the city holistically,” Giattino told InsiderNJ in her home, located dead center in the mile-square city on a block adorned with Giattino for Mayor signs. “The north end is an empty canvas, and it is important that it be developed commercially.” Giattino wants to see offices like those on the waterfront. She envisions workers in those offices generating afternoon business for Hoboken restaurants, which right now must primarily concentrate on evening and night crowds.

The council president told InsiderNJ that if elected come November she would focus on accessibility. She learned constituent service as a councilperson and wants to apply that priority as mayor. “It’s something really missing in City Hall – just walking the streets,” she said.

The candidate has been running aggressively since she kicked off earlier this summer in the aftermath of Zimmer’s announcement. She finds herself in a large field, occupying a top tier of contenders generally regarded to include fellow council people Ravi Bhalla and Mike DeFusco and Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano.

So far, her rivals have dismissed her as a Republican, which she is, the consequence of her belief that people should depend on themselves more than government as a general matter and a decision she made as a ballet dancer when she registered during the first Gulf War. Hoboken’s a 4-1 Democratic town.

“Eight Democrats elected me three times to be council president,” Giattino told InsiderNJ. “It’s a nonpartisan election. When I knock on a door no one asks if I’m a Republican or Democrat.”

Her statement over the weekend in the face of heaped reminders of her party affiliation rebuked President Donald J. Trump in strong terms.

She trusts her six-year record of working with everyone will stand her in good stead when the candidates collide on Election Day. Since announcing her candidacy, she has met with Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, among others, partly in a gesture of goodwill.

“I will work with them,” she said. “I’m not a bomb thrower. I don’t like to spew things out there.”

Asked about specific accomplishments she listed the following:

getting 1600 Park online;

reworking Church Street Park;

getting Sinatra Field online;

repaving Bloomfield Street, and not just the 6th Ward section.

At least two of her rivals make the case that she is splitting the reform vote with Bhalla, who actually has Zimmer’s endorsement. But Giattino disagrees, and expressed Joe Namath-like confidence about her chances. “I’m not splitting the vote,” the council president told InsiderNJ. “I’m running for mayor and I’m certain I’m going to win.”

She has built more and better relationships over six years than any of the contenders, she says, and when it comes down to it, adds, “I just really like my neighbors.”

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  • Joey Ladron

    Her record is what will sink her. 6 years on council, 3 of them as council president, and didn’t even try to advance a single one of these ideas. Now saying there are things that need to change because Zimmer endorsed Ravi. Typical political nonsense, but how does she think she’s not fighting with him for the same vote? That just makes her sound oblivious.

    • Heather Thomas

      Her record actually testifies to her ability to get things done and work across board. Something other candidates don’t have to show. It’s easy to present voters with wish lists and pies in the sky. No one can say that Hoboken did not move in the right direction in the past years and Jen certainly played big part of it. Things always need to change and get better done, why would that be nonsense?

      • Joey Ladron

        There’s a catch-22 with her campaign message because she was lock-step with Dawn for her entire time on council. Now that Dawn endorsed Ravi she has to try to differentiate herself, but she can’t critique Dawn or Ravi without sharing in the blame. She never had any particular issues that she herself drove on the council, it was all following Dawn’s lead. Either she had no ideas of her own, or didn’t have the leadership skills to bring them forward and get them done. Things do need to change for the better, but it is unrealistic to suggest she is someone who can do so based on her record.

        • Heather Thomas

          She was voted to be the council President by other council members, that says something about her leadership doesn’t it? I watched her twice on TV during the council meeting, looked like being in charge to me. Being part of current administration gives me confidence that she know how things work and how to best get them done. And I’ve heard only nicest things about her, talking about my neighbors and people around Hoboken.

          • Joey Ladron

            She is very nice, agreed. Lots of people are nice, but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to be mayor. She has been saying a lot of bad things about the administration since she declared her candidacy, particularly questioning the finances, even though she served as finance chair on the council. If being part of that administration is why you like her, you make want to rethink that. If you have so much confidence in the current administration, why support Jen over Ravi, who has been there longer and has the support of Mayor Zimmer?

        • Derek Barnes

          What’s happening Mike D?

      • Joey Ladron

        What did Jen get done? Still waiting to hear that, please cite some accomplishments. She criticizes Zimmer, but she never did anything separate from Zimmer. Jen is very nice. Lots of very nice people haven’t done anything to warrant making them Mayor. Jen is one of those. If you want things to change, pick someone who wasn’t council president for 3 of the past 6 years.

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