Thursday, May 16, 2013

Apathetic voters didn't derail Hackensack reformers

During Tuesday's election in Hackensack, a poll worker at the Fairmount Elementary School, above, told a woman who supported Victor E. Sasson for City Council to vote instead for the Citizens for Change slate at the top of the ballot. Sasson wrote a letter to the county Board of Elections, complaining about the alleged voter steering.

Voter apathy didn't stop a slate of reformers from sweeping Tuesday's City Council election in Hackensack.

Only 3,513 out of more than 20,000 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday -- fewer than in both the 2009 and 2005 elections -- a spokeswoman for City Clerk Debra Heck said today.

In the past, low voter turnout doomed candidates who were seeking to oust the Zisa family dynasty, which has held power since the early 1990s.

But on Tuesday, incumbent Councilman John Labrosse led the 5-member Citizens for Change to victory -- denying a bid by 5 Zisa puppets to hold onto power in what is widely mocked as "Zisaville."

Sasson who?

Independent candidate Victor E. Sasson received 344 votes, some of which might have gone to members of the Coalition for Open Government, which he identified as "the Zisa slate."

The Record of Woodland Park denied Sasson a story announcing his candidacy -- unlike its treatment of the two organized slates -- then virtually ignored the campaign.

The victory of the Labrosse slate took the editors by surprise, forcing them to make it front-page news on Wednesday and to follow today with an interpretative story on A-1 and two related stories from Hackensack reporter Hannan Adely and her predecessor, Stephanie Akin.

'Daunting odds'

Today, the first paragraph of the Page 1 story reports the Labrosse team won "against daunting odds." 

But the total voter turnout, number of registered voters and Sasson's own campaign for reform are nowhere to be found.

Still, the story reveals how The Record and other media cover elections -- by comparing campaign donations, and usually giving more space and more favorable coverage to the candidates who amass the most cash.

Then, reporters call all those pundits and experts they have on speed dial, including a political science professor who also writes an opinion column for The Record.

Weinberg steps up

Even Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, belatedly got into the act, praising Citizens for Change on A-8, even though she had refused Sasson's request to make a robocall on behalf the reform candidates in the election.

That opened the way for Newark Mayor Cory Booker to make his own robocall for the Open Government candidates, bowing to their establishment ties and support from Lynne Hurwitz, Hackensack's Democratic Party boss.

Booker's clueless aide is quoted on A-8 today as calling the Hackensack contest "a tough race with good candidates on both sides, but ultimately the mayor supported what he believed to be the strongest overall ticket."

Christie reforms?

Those experts told The Record the Citizens for Change slate benefited from a reform movement sweeping the state, but how do the editors explain a quote from a professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University on A-8.

Prof. Peter Wooley alleges, "We are in reform period here in the sense that Chris Christie made real change the centerpiece of his first term as governor."

Of course, Christie loves to tout his "reform agenda," but the vast majority of his policies have hurt the middle and working classes, and catered to the rich.

The Borgs

So, it's no surprise Christie's war on the middle class is labeled "reform" in The Record, which is published by the elite Borg family.

The Borgs shut down the headquarters of The Record in 2009, abandoning Hackensack and dealing another blow to a struggling Main Street.

Their 20 acres along River Street have become an eyesore, and they haven't disclosed plans for the property. 

1 comment:

  1. Victor,

    You made a great effort in your bid for a council seat.

    I'm sure that it had some effect on the overall outcome of the election for change.

    You got my mother and me to vote for the very first time in a Hackensack election. Turnout seemed to be much higher than in past elections. We must have voted for you least a dozen times at various polling places and mail-in ballots. If only every one of your other supporters could have made this extra heartfelt effort!

    Keep focusing on the good and bad in Hackensack and maybe we will begin to see some results and improvements, incl. better roadways, downtown renovation, and property tax relief.

    Perhaps, the new team will be open to many of the good ideas that you raised if you follow up.


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