Leading Hoboken: Mayor Ravi Bhalla off to a good start in race for re-election

Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Photo hobokennj.gov

Incumbent Indian-American Mayor of Hoboken, N.J. Ravi Bhalla, announced the slate of candidates he would like voters to support in the run up to the Nov. 2 general elections. He also announced the opening of his campaign office at 404 Washington Street starting Monday, August 25, 2021, inviting every one to drop by in the evening, but to keep their masks on when they do.

Mayor Bhalla is the 39th Mayor of this city adjacent to the behemoth metropolis, New York City. He was the first Sikh to hold elected office in New Jersey and is the first directly elected Sikh to become Mayor in the United States, according to his bio. He was elected in 2017 after having served for 8 years on the Hoboken City Council.

Mayor Bhalla is credited with judiciously steering the City through the pandemic with low fatalities.

“While we’ve accomplished a great deal for Hoboken during my first term as Mayor, I know we can reach even greater heights in the years to come,” Bhalla said in his email blast. “But, in order to do so, I need a City Council that will put Hoboken first and work cooperatively with me to continue improving the quality of life for our residents,” he said.

On his #TeamBhalla ticket are Councilwoman Emily Jabbour, Councilman Jim Doyle, and first-time candidates Joe Quintero and Dini Ajmani.

“Together, they bring a combination of seasoned experience, new energy and professional backgrounds that will serve our City well,” Bhalla contends.

He urged constituents to sign the #TeamBhalla petition for all four of our team members to get on the ballot! Even though Councilwoman Jabbour and Mayor Bhalla are incumbents, “we still need to get enough petition signatures to qualify as candidates,” he noted, urging everyone to get their friends, neighbors and others to the petition, the filing deadline for which is Aug. 30, 2021.

“I am excited by Mayor Bhalla’s re-election campaign,” New Jersey State Senator Vin Gopal told Desi Talk. “He’s done an incredible job in the last four year. The fact that he has no real opposition speaks to his record,” Gopal added.

In the city biography about his first term in office, the Hoboken City government website says that in the first few months Mayor Bhalla prioritized fiscal responsibility, introduced a City budget with no municipal tax increase, maintained the City’s AA+ credit rating, oversaw the rehabilitation of Washington Street, formed a Homelessness task force, pursued affordable housing strategies, completed the design phase of Northwest Resiliency Park, secured more than $1 million in state transportation funding, and signed executive orders to expand parental leave benefits, invest in the arts, and protect the civil rights of immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

Bhalla says with an eye to the future, his administration has over the last four years, been looking at ways to create sustainable, environmentally sound infrastructure improvements; beginning construction on the historic Northwest Resiliency Park; kicking off the Rebuild by Design flood protection project; renovating neighborhood parks, and proactively replacing aging water mains for the first time in decades; the Vision Zero pedestrian safety campaign; and a Climate Action Plan.

“And together, we made the tough choices that prioritized the health and safety of our community during a global health crisis, putting our citizens first while also working to protect the local businesses that are the heart of our community,” Mayor Bhalla says, describing Hoboken as being on the forefront in confronting the problems during the pandemic, and foresees his city will be “a regional and national leader in a post-pandemic world.”

On March 14, 2021, it was exactly one year since Hoboken went into lockdown, and Mayor Bhalla was featured on CNN. “Every step of the way during the pandemic, we’ve operated with one main goal in mind: to save lives, and that continues to this day. I’m proud our collective community-wide effort to proactively confront the virus received national recognition today on CNN with Fredricka Whitfield,” the Mayor posted on Facebook.


One Hoboken resident, Casey Shot, had this to say on Facebook on reading Mayor Bhalla’s post – “Thank you Ravi Bhalla. You’ve exemplified true leadership from a place of compassion, understanding, and caring throughout this whole pandemic emergency. While we’re not in the clear just yet, I know Hoboken is in a better place than most thanks your hard work and dedication to the people of our city.”

Even before he formally announced his candidacy, two Latino organizations endorsed him, El Circulo Hispano Americano, and Comite Internacional Pro-Ayuda al Municipo de Boca Chica. In early June, the Hotel Trades Council voiced its support, as did the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) which has 25,000 members in New Jersey, Hudsoncountyview.com reported. Other notable endorsements include the local Police Superior Officers Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, among others.

While Hoboken elections are non-partisan, the patch.com news outlet reported that among Bhalla’s opponents could be Councilman Michael DeFusco who lost by just 500 votes to Bhalla in 2017. That year Bhalla defeated five other candidates to win.

This August 17, 2021, Mayor Bhalla released the first phase of the Hoboken Rescue Plan, which includes allocating more than $13.2 million from the American Rescue Plan to facilitate the City’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hoboken Rescue Plan, as proposed, will assist the City’s vaccination and testing efforts, provide rent relief to residents, provide quality-of-life improvements, and more, a press release from his office said, thanking U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressman Sires “for fighting for this funding for New Jersey.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges to all aspects of our lives in ways we never thought imaginable,”  Mayor Bhalla said. “As we continue to adapt and recover, the Hoboken Rescue Plan will provide critically needed funding to protect our community and invest in our City’s infrastructure for years to come,” he added.

The Plan also supports recovery efforts for small businesses, grant funding for the City’s nonprofit community, ambulance service upgrades, upgrades to the Hoboken Health Department, funding for continued COVID-19 testing, and a vaccine incentive for City Hall employees.

During his campaign kickoff June 24, his fundraiser was hosted by among others, New Jersey’s only Indian-American Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, as well as a number of Hoboken City Councilmembers.

Mayor Bhalla first set his roots in Hoboken at the age of 26, a bachelor fresh out of law school starting his first job at a small law firm in Newark, New Jersey.

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in Political Psychology, Bhalla did his Master of Science from the London School of Economics (L.S.E.) in the United Kingdom specializing in Public Administration and Public Policy. He earned a Juris Doctor Degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mayor Bhalla and his wife Bindya live on Garden Street with their two children, Arza Kaur and Shabegh Singh.




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