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.”
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.”