2017 HOBOKEN MAYORAL CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE — Jen Giattino
Can you please tell our readers your name (as it appears on the ballot), and how long you’ve lived in Hoboken?
I’m Jen Giattino (7H) and I’ve lived in Hoboken for 20 years. First with my husband and now with him and my three young boys.
We recently saw a political campaign ad from 1981 that cites, “potholes,” “lack of recreation,” “sewers that cannot hold a simple rainfall,” “overworked police force,” and “enormous profits” for developers as being major issues facing Hoboken. Yet here we are—36 years later—having a lot of the same discussions. Why should voters have any faith in your campaign promises?
Voters should trust my campaign promises because of my record for serving residents, rolling up my sleeves, and getting things done. And because I never overpromise. My campaign promises are about changing our approach on a number of issues so that we can get better results. It is about continuing what I have already begun. I am most proud of leading the effort and acquiring the BASF park in northwest Hoboken and cannot wait until it is completed. I will apply these same efforts to complete the SW Park, and the acquisition of Union Dry Dock, for which I’ve advocated since 2011. I will continue to walk Hoboken streets daily and hold my administration accountable for the state of disrepair on our streets. I was actively involved in the installation of the H5 pump and will work with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority for a third one. I have successfully added economic analysis to our negotiations with developers so we can demand more of those “enormous” profits be shared with Hoboken. I am the only mayoral candidate who voted no to the $100+ million tax abatement given on the out-of-scale 7th and Jackson project on which no economic analysis of the project performed. I am already delivering on my promises.
Aside from the aforementioned issues, what else does the City of Hoboken need to address, and how will your administration do it?
My campaign is about getting development right, enhancing quality of life and keeping Hoboken resilient for all of us. A key difference between me and others running for mayor is that I believe that our over-reliance on residential development is the main cause behind many of our issues. Commercial development has net positive tax revenues, whereas residential does not. It’s not just the money: commercial development creates jobs, has less pressures on both our schools and infrastructure, creates a daytime community that our small businesses desperately need and when negotiated properly commercial property’s parking can be made available to residents at night, providing more alternatives to those who do not have parking onsite. Improving quality of life is about making the government listen and be more responsive to the needs of its residents. I’ll build a team that looks to solve common sense issues. Problems of flooding, infrastructure, and displacement will be tackled cooperatively along with potholes and traffic congestion, with input from all stakeholders including residents, the county, and the state.
This campaign to date has certainly been spirited, some might even say divisive. Yet win or lose, many of the candidates will still be actively involved with the administration of Hoboken after November 7th . With that in mind, how would your Mayoral administration work to move ahead the projects and services that Hoboken residents need?
I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been elected council president three times unanimously by all the people I ran with and all the people I opposed. I think that reflects my faith that whether we agree or disagree, we each, in our own way, want what’s best for Hoboken. Just as I’ve been councilwoman, I will be mayor for every resident of Hoboken and will work with anyone and everyone who can help me deliver the best result for our community. When you don’t care who gets the credit it’s amazing how much you can get done.
Everyone’s a critic. There’s no shortage of negative feedback on Hoboken’s various social media platforms—meanwhile voter turnout for municipal elections is routinely low. How would you encourage effective civic involvement in Hoboken?
This issue has never been more important as we face an election where our next mayor may be sworn in with less than 1/3 of the votes. Whether I’m elected mayor, at the reorganization meeting of the city council I will introduce an ordinance to restore the runoff so we can again have confidence that a mayor will be elected with at least 50% of the votes. Until then, I will increase my efforts to engage more stakeholders around all issues that are important to Hoboken. Everyone’s voice will matter.
What do you feel is the chief criticism of your candidacy, and how would you answer that criticism?
The chief legitimate criticism of my campaign is that in those areas where I’ve differed with Mayor Zimmer I’ve tried to focus on areas of agreement rather than publicizing disagreement. I have found that people are able to come together when you offer solutions rather than try to exploit failures. If that sometimes means that I’m accused of not taking a firm position when I know that I did, then that’s okay. Making things better is what counts.
Say you win… congratulations. In four years, why would the people of Hoboken re-elect you?
Because we will have a master plan that reflects our city and supports commercial development and because new construction has been in accord with that plan and is serving the community. We will have a new deal with Suez, or someone else, that protects Hoboken taxpayers and water users and deals with our aging infrastructure. Dealing with city hall will mean meeting someone genuinely concerned and capable of helping you. Because city parks will have been expanded and will be maintained as well or better than the County maintains Columbus Park. And while parking and congestion will still be challenging, will be improving not getting worse.
What’s the very first thing you’ll do after being sworn in?
First thing I’ll do is hug my family but sometime thereafter I will invite each councilperson and director in one-on-one to understand their priorities, to explain mine, and to figure out how we will work together for the better of Hoboken. And I will make sure Washington Street is completed!
Last but not least, why you?
I will continue the bringing integrity to the office, which Mayor Zimmer restored. I will embrace all that has been working. And I will work harder than anyone to fix all that hasn’t. I will make the quality of life of our residents be my main priority. And most importantly, I will be mayor for everyone in Hoboken whether they voted for me or not. We are all in this together and we are better when we remember that.