The Zimmer Challenge Hoboken Soccer Mom looks to unseat Chris Campos in the Fourth Ward

The Zimmer Family   Joe Concha: What was the main reason, the one defining issue, that has prompted you to run for City Council?

Dawn Zimmer: “I am running to represent the 4th Ward because we are not represented right now. Our “so-called” representative is simply a rubber stamp for the Mayor’s agenda. He fails to listen to — and advocate for — his own constituents. As a resident concerned about our neighborhood’s future, I felt I had to stand up and represent the 4th Ward.”

Concha: How would you rate Chris Campos’s performance representing the 4th Ward during his time in office?

Chris Campos Zimmer: Mr. Campos has done an extremely poor job representing the 4th Ward. He consistently follows the Mayor’s agenda — and his own — instead of thinking about what’s best for his own constituents.

Concha: If Mr. Campos is found guilty of DUI, should he resign?

Zimmer: I think Mr. Campos should take responsibility for his actions. I was gratified when he promptly apologized for his behavior, and appalled that he has now changed his story and is seeking to get off on a technicality. Our family lost a loved one to drunk driving, so I take this issue very seriously, and I think Mr. Campos should take it seriously too. Based on his overall record, Mr. Campos’ fitness for office will be decided by the people of the 4th Ward on May 8th. Unfortunately by postponing his trial until after the election, Mr. Campos is attempting to deprive the people of their right to full information when they cast their votes.

Hoboken Mayor David Roberts On a related point, Mr. Campos has taken the controversial action of supporting and advocating a “one strike and you’re out policy” at the Housing Authority. It is incomprehensible to me that he hasn’t applied that standard to himself, and resigned his seat on the Housing Authority.

Concha: What are your thoughts on the Mayor and his job performance in general?

Zimmer: I think we need to look at Mayor Roberts’ actions, rather than his words. By selling off municipal assets to cover current operating expenses, and creating redevelopment zones throughout the City for the sole purpose of maximizing short-term revenues, the Mayor is mortgaging our future to paper over the fiscal problems of our present. We have to ask, where are all the revenues from all these new development projects going? We keep doing more and more development…yet while services remain the same…we have less and less in the bank. The math doesn’t add up.

I am particularly disappointed in the Mayor’s Southwest Redevelopment plan, which significantly impacts the 4th Ward. The plan being put forward by the Mayor and supported by Mr. Campos will cram 3,000 new residents into the Southwest, worsening the traffic and flooding problems, which already plague our neighborhood. Rather than address the open space deficit identified in the City’s Master Plan, by creating new open space for existing residents, the plan will not even provide enough open space for the new residents brought in by the plan. The City’s Southwest Redevelopment plan is designed to benefit those who own property in the redevelopment zone, many of whom are longtime friends and contributors of my opponent, the Mayor and the Hudson County Democratic Organization. It is not designed to benefit the residents of the 4th Ward.

Concha: What political experience do you have?

Zimmer: I am not a career politician. I am a neighbor, taxpayer, and mom running for office because the career politicians have failed us. I do not seek the various political jobs Mr. Campos has accepted. I have no personal agenda except improving my community for my family, my neighbors, everyone in the 4th Ward and throughout Hoboken. I want to be a part of making Hoboken the best that it can be for the people who live here.

Concha: How do you plan to raise funds to help make your candidacy more visible to the public?

Zimmer: As an active member of the Hoboken community, I am reaching out to my friends and neighbors to support my efforts to truly represent the 4th Ward and the interests of all Hoboken residents.

Concha: What do you think of the City’s initiative to take over St. Mary’s, now Hoboken University Hospital?

Zimmer: I fully support Hoboken University Hospital. My family has used its emergency room on several occasions, and my husband had major knee surgery there. I believe that the transaction could have been structured in a way that would have resulted in less financial risk to the City. However, like all Hoboken residents, I strongly hope that the hospital succeeds, and as a Councilmember I pledge to do what’s necessary to see that it does.

Concha: Flooding appears to be a recurring issue in Hoboken and particularly in the 3rd and 4th Wards. Why does this continually occur and what is your plan to solve this growing problem?

Zimmer: The City needs to start by hiring an environmental engineering firm to conduct a capacity study. No one in this town knows exactly what needs to be done to solve the flooding problem, and that’s why we desperately need to take the first step by hiring experts to evaluate the situation. I am extremely concerned that we are rushing to build 1,500 new condo units without taking even the first step to figure out the impact of this increased development on the flooding situation. Our neighboring cities such as Jersey City, Newark, and Guttenberg have all hired engineering firms to evaluate their flooding situation BEFORE they finalized their development plans. Mr. Campos has experienced flooding since he was a child. Development in the Southwest has made the situation worse. Isn’t it time we stop giving lip service to this issue and do a capacity study to find out exactly what needs to be done to solve this problem? Unless we make the solution part of the SW redevelopment plan, then Mr. Campos’ messages about infrastructure improvements just represent more broken promises.

While we are working to figure out these issues, the City needs to focus on requiring new development to use green technology to alleviate the flooding situation. For example, “green roofs”, an environmentally engineered roof, can reduce rainwater runoff by 40 percent or more. Buildings can be designed to recycle rainwater for toilet water or watering landscaping. Porous pavers can be installed so that the water goes back into the ground more easily. This will only happen in the SW redevelopment plan if the City requires it to happen. Right now, the City’s SW Redevelopment plan vaguely calls for some “green” aspects, but, unless the requirements are clearly and explicitly set out in the redeveloper agreements, we will ultimately get nothing but lip service and more flooding.

Concha: How do you differ from your opponent on the SW Redevelopment Plan?

Zimmer: My opponent is rushing to pass a plan before the election that will benefit the many politically connected people who own property in the redevelopment zone. Instead, we need a more efficient government that stops letting politicians throw our tax dollars away on sweetheart deals for developers. We need to examine the flooding and traffic implications of increased density BEFORE we up zone for 1,500 new condo units. We need to do a cost benefit analysis, so we can understand how much of a windfall developers will be getting from this up zoning, so that we can decide how much they will be required to reinvest in the community. Without these figures, the City is squandering its leverage and turning what should be a position of strength into a position of weakness when it negotiates with developers.

In a letter to the editor, Chris Campos expressed his full support for the SW Redevelopment plan. Instead of listening to his constituents and asking tough questions about an ill conceived high-density plan, he’s just rubber stamping the Mayor’s plan. I walked through the sewage backup two weeks ago, and we need to study the impact of increased density BEFORE the City zones for it. My opponent will bring us a flood of problems. He’s not even trying to advocate for us to find out how much development our neighborhood can handle. I support development, but we MUST take a balanced approach. Our area is already plagued by sewage backup. We’re already stuck in traffic getting into or out of this part of Hoboken. Will we even be able to move after this development gets completed?

Concha: If elected, what three things do you hope most to accomplish?

Zimmer: Change the City’s approach to new development to one that incorporates a broader vision of the city’s future: The estimated $300,000 spent on the City’s new Master Plan has been squandered, as new development makes its vision more and more difficult to achieve. At current rates, the population of Hoboken could double in twenty years. We need to plan for that growth before it happens, not figure it out after the fact, when the best solutions will no longer be possible. I will work to establish and implement a vision that works for all of us.

Create a healthier, cleaner city for Hoboken residents by taking the first step in solving the flooding and sewage back up issue with a comprehensive flood capacity study: The first step in solving our flooding issue requires expert environmental engineering analysis. Let’s stop letting the politicians play a guessing game with a serious problem, and hire an expert to help us figure out a feasible solution.

Improve the quality of life for Housing Authority residents: If elected, I am determined to improve the maintenance issues that plague the Housing Authority. I understand this is a complicated issue that revolves around addressing drug addiction, loitering, security, police patrolling, and making sure that money goes where it is needed. I know from friends in Hoboken’s Housing Authority and friends from other public housing that the issue can be addressed and overcome. If elected, I fully intend to focus on improving this situation because the people in the Housing Authority deserve much better.

Concha: In addition to flooding, how do you plan to address the issues of too much traffic, pedestrian safety, and too little parking?

Zimmer: All of these issues need to be addressed by making them a priority with respect to all new development. In addition, local speed limits need to be strictly enforced, and speed bumps must be installed at every location where cars habitually speed. A speeding car on Frank Sinatra Drive, three weeks prior to the Mayor’s re-election, killed my father-in-law and the city installed speed bumps in response to my family’s public demand. These issues need to be addressed before someone gets killed, not afterward because of an upcoming election.

Concha: Should taxes be raised in Hoboken to improve parts of its infrastructure that appear to be failing or not providing proper services?

Zimmer: Providing a solid infrastructure for Hoboken’s future is an essential function of our government. By ignoring the failing state of our infrastructure, the present administration is just increasing the price which will have to be paid when a crisis occurs. Public investment is the only appropriate use of our bonding capacity. Servicing the cost of such investment is an essential public function, just like the cost of providing police and fire protection. It is the responsibility of the Mayor and City Council to exercise the appropriate fiscal prudence to ensure that these essential government functions can be provided without imposing an unacceptable tax burden on Hoboken’s citizens.

Concha: In one sentence, why should residents of the 4th Ward vote for Dawn Zimmer?

Zimmer: Fourth Ward residents should vote for me because I am the only candidate that will be working for them, not for the Mayor, not for political gain, not for a personal agenda, but working my hardest because I care deeply about the future of the 4th Ward and Hoboken as a whole.