After the most recent November elections, we’ve had many conversations about how we can get off the sidelines and make Hoboken even better. A similar collective sentiment reverberated after the 2016 election of President Trump. Back then – and now again – I write to provide you a few ideas about how to get involved and make a difference:
Run For Office!: During his farewell address in 2016, President Barack Obama had a clear message for people who are disappointed in their elected officials. “Grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” Now more than ever, we in Hoboken need committed, qualified, and honest residents to raise their hand and answer this important call for service.
While I am proud of what our Administration has accomplished in a year, it has been despite – not because of – the City Council. Rather than work collaboratively with me to honestly engage in deep and thoughtful policy deliberation, certain Council Members have politicized the City Council, treating politics as sport and throwing public service for the public good to the side. It is unacceptable, and needs to change.
I know there is a great talent pool of ordinary citizens who have no agenda other than to see Hoboken succeed. A great way to advance that goal is to run for City Council in 2019. If you are interested, the time is now! We are in the process of screening candidates to make sure Team Bhalla 2019 has the strongest slate of ward candidates and a reclaims a majority of the City Council in 2019. Please join our efforts. I guarantee you that with a City Council working collaboratively with City Hall, there is so much more we can do for our community.
Run for Democratic Committeeperson! If running for City Council seems too daunting but you are still interested in exploring elected office, running to be a committeeperson in your local neighborhood is a great starting point. In fact, it is how I started in 2007, when I ran for Democratic Committeeman in my district and ward. Running for committeeperson is a great way to dip your toes and see if elected office is the right thing for you. This year, we intend to run a full slate of 80 committee candidates in Hoboken. The bar is not high. If you are interested or have questions, email me so we can get the ball rolling!
Serve on a Citizen Board or Agency: Often times, many consequential decisions in your neighborhood aren’t made by your Mayor and City Council, but by the many smaller boards and agencies that focus on particular topics, such as land use, historic preservation, the housing authority, historic preservation, and others. A great recent success story is that of the Hoboken Green Team, which recently advocated for, and helped write the ordinance for our new plastic bag ban (going into effect next week).
If you are interested in serving on one of these boards, download this application form on the municipal boards section of the Hoboken website. As all boards and the appointment processes are different, please review the City website and always feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Be a Poll Worker: Do you ever get frustrated by long lines at the polls? Have you ever entered your polling location with no idea which of the several lines to go to vote? Well there’s nothing stopping you from doing something about it and being a poll worker yourself! I tried being a poll worker a few times. It’s a really nice and rewarding civic experience. It’s also not a “volunteer” position as you get paid $200 for your day of service. If you want to be a poll worker, fill out this form, email it back to me, and we’ll work to get you in the pipeline to serve in the next election.
Make your voices heard!: Residents sometimes feel like no one will listen to them if they express an opinion or provide feedback on any particular issue. As someone who has served on the City Council and now the Mayor’s office, I can personally tell you that this is not true! Both Council Members and I receive and read your emails and letters, and public comments at City Council meetings. I can guarantee you that your voice, especially if it is one that is organized collectively with others, can have a big impact on important issues. Don’t be afraid to organize a group of your friends and neighbors to attend a City Council meeting and advocate for a certain issue or voice an opinion. Trust me, your opinion matters to those elected officials behind the Council dais, so don’t be afraid to voice it. That’s just a small part of how we make positive change!
Thank you for reading through this email. I look forward to a more engaged and active community in 2019! Please feel free to also email me if you are interested in any of the above.
Ravi S. Bhalla
Team Bhalla for 2019