Team Bhalla Council Slate Makes Stamp Out Voter Fraud Pledge

Team Bhalla: Phil Cohen and Cristin Cricco-Powell

Team Bhalla Council Slate Makes Stamp Out Voter Fraud Pledge


The Team Bhalla Council slate today pledged to not hire any election day workers, relying on volunteers to conduct get-out-the-vote activities and challenged all candidates running for Council in Hoboken to do the same.  The Team Bhalla Stamp Out Voter Fraud Pledge is aimed at the illegal practice of candidates paying people to vote for them and then falsely reporting the payments as compensation for working election day.


This was the design of the large-scale voter fraud scheme that Frank Raia was found guilty of organizing and overseeing in City elections.  Two other long time Hoboken political operatives, Matt Calicchio and Lizaida Camis pled guilty for their roles in the scheme and several other Hoboken politicos have been implicated.


The Team Bhalla Slate, comprised of Migdalia Pagan-Milano, Nora Martinez DeBenedetto, Lisa Sprengle, Phil Cohen and Cristin Cricco-Powell,  said, “We are pledging not to hire any election day workers because we believe it is important to go the extra mile to stamp out the voter fraud that has plagued our local elections.  We challenge all candidates running for Ward Council seats this fall to join us. It is important to send a message to all residents that Hoboken elections will be conducted with integrity.”

The Team Bhalla Slate also promised to adhere to the 5 Point Integrity Pledge to Protect Hoboken Housing Authority Residents, put forward by James Sanford, HHA Vice-Chair, with the explicit understanding directly from Mr. Stanford that the second point in the pledge prohibits candidates from campaigning at official housing authority events, but permits direct campaign contact with HHA residents, through activities such as door-to-door campaigning, phone calls or resident hosted meet and greets.


5 Point Integrity Pledge


  1. Unequivocally denounce any GOTV campaign and similarly organized schemes that pay voters to volunteer for a candidate or issue based campaign.
  2. Refrain from campaigning on HHA property or at HHA sponsored events.


  1. Commit to an apolitical HHA where both residents and staff are free from political coercion, intimidation, and interference.
  2. Donate all money received from Mr. Raia, his affiliated third party entities, and any other entity or person affiliated with similar paid voter volunteer schemes.  Further, that all donations be made directly to the Hoboken Housing Authority as contrition for the many years of serial abuses committed against HHA residents and our community at large.
  3. That all city council candidates who sign this pledge will hold accountable all candidates who fail to honor this pledge.



Candidate Bios


 Ward 1: Migdalia Pagan-Milano works for the City’s newly resurrected Constituent Affairs department, where on a daily basis she works to assist residents with problems, such as noise pollution from the rail-yard, unaffordable rents and unsafe living conditions in the senior buildings.  She recently assisted residents of Marineview in the refurbishing of their apartments in the wake of two recent fires.

Migdalia previously worked at the City’s Cultural Affairs Department where she helped organize city events such as the Arts and Music Festival and interacted regularly with business owners.  She was one of the organizers of the first ever Hoboken Pride Week, collaborating with Hudson Pride Center and working to include all LGBTQ residents.  Migdalia, a lifelong resident of Hoboken, resides in the First Ward with her wife, Lisa.


Ward 2: Nora Martínez DeBenedetto is a teacher at Kaplan Cooperative Preschool and the coordinator of the popular Art in the Park program for the City of Hoboken, which is now greatly expanded and running at capacity each summer with almost six hundred children enrolled.


Nora has served as a volunteer organizer of the Hoboken Uptown Farmers Market for ten years, where she was one of the founding members. In this capacity, she worked to bring Jersey Fresh produce to a neighborhood that was in need of more health food options and community events. A graduate of Syracuse University, Nora later received her Master’s Degree from New Jersey City University. She is a lifelong resident of Hoboken and the Second Ward, where she lives with her husband and young son.


Ward 4:  Lisa Sprengle is an attorney, accountant and a mom. She is a business professional and a CPA, with a JD from Chicago Kent. Lisa currently works as the Controller for a large New York based company, actively involved in all aspects of the business large and small, including legal, finance, accounting, human resources and even store construction.


Her active involvement in her community began, as with many Hoboken moms, with her work for the HSA of her daughter’s school. She is committed to using her private sector legal and business experience to help Mayor Bhalla continue moving Hoboken forward, while ensuring that the 4th Ward is not left behind.


Ward 5: Phil Cohen has been an engaged volunteer in Hoboken’s civic life for nearly two decades. Phil is a member of the Citizens Advisory Group for the transformative $230 million Rebuild by Design project, working on the plan to implement protections for our City from rising tides and strengthening storms like Superstorm Sandy.  He is a member of the Hoboken Library’s Space Search Committee working on identifying an uptown branch location to better serve our community.  Phil is a 5th Ward Democratic Committeeperson who has been elected to serve the 5th Ward for more than a decade.   Last year, he was elected by the Committee’s members to serve as Chair of the Hoboken Democratic Party.


A graduate of Rutgers Law School, Phil is a practicing attorney in the New York office of an international law firm where he is a shareholder in the firm’s litigation practice.  Phil and his wife Rebecca are proud to have raised their daughters, Madeline 23, and Anna 19, here in Hoboken.


Ward 6: In Cristin Cricco Powell’s 20 years as an executive producer and director of TV shows and documentaries, she’s worked with everyone from coal miners in West Virginia to civil rights icon Harry Belafonte. Leading teams and directing different (and sometimes difficult) personalities has honed her management skills, while running high stakes projects with fixed schedules and tight budgets has given her the ability to think outside the box for smart solutions to sudden problems.


Cristin is an active supporter of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation and has a soon-to-be 4th grader and kindergartener at Brandt. She is a firm believer that everyone in Hoboken is her neighbor. Cristin’s family has been in Hoboken since 1897. Her great-grandparents Robert and Raffaela Cricco helped build St. Ann’s Church, and her grandfather, Carl, Sr. and father, Carl, Jr. were much-loved surgeons in town.


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