By VICTOR E. SASSON
Behind the facade of Hackensack's non-partisan City Council elections, the two major parties battle for the hearts and minds of an apathetic electorate.
Only 3,000 to 4,000 votes are cast in the May balloting every four years in a city with about 20,000 registered voters.
Now, the city's Democratic Organization is trying to claw its way back into power after its entire slate went down in defeat in 2013.
Bergen County Democrats were part of the political establishment that kept the Zisa family in power for decades, filling jobs with loyal party members and contributors.
In a message to Bergen Democrats, Lynne Hurwitz, head of city Democrats, is asking for financial support to elect Board of Education President Jason Nunnermacker to a vacant seat on the council.
Nunnermacker was part of the Open Government slate, allied with the Zisas, that lost the May 2013 election to reformers who ran under the banner of Citizens for Change.
Since losing the election, Nunnermacker, former running mates and fellow board members have appeared at nearly every meeting to attack the reformers, including Councilwoman Rose Greenman, who resigned, setting up the special Nov. 3 election.
In her message, Hurwitz claims Nunnermacker "has dedicated himself to improving his hometown," but provides no specifics.
Other candidates on Nov. 3 are Richard L. Cerbo, the son of a former mayor; businessman Jason Some, who was appointed to fill Greenman's seat; and Deborah Keeling-Geddis, a teacher's assistant in the city schools.
Any of them have greater appeal than Nunnermacker, 38, an attorney some Democrats refer to as "a turkey."
Editor Martin Gottlieb again devotes most of Page 1 today to two of The Record's burned-out columnists (A-1).
Writing from Havana, Staff Writer Mike Kelly perpetuates media stereotypes of the Cuban Revolution.
But Kelly didn't find any political prisoners.
Instead, he focuses on pianist Angel Cabo, who left the island because he needed "more freedom to choose the songs he wanted to play" (A-7).
The Record's copy desk dusted off a photo over line the paper used the last time a pope visited the Caribbean's biggest island in 2012:
Meanwhile, it's hard to believe Gottlieb would allow Columnist Charles Stile to report Governor Christie is campaigning for president as a defender of the middle class without challenging the GOP bully in print (A-1).
Gottlieb and Stile are being irresponsible by not listing all of the programs and policies Christie has used in his war on the middle class in New Jersey, and his repeated veto of a tax surcharge on millionaires.
Stile's columns often are the print version of the sound bite that dominates TV news.
Christie is allowed to go unchallenged when he claims the middle class are "getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton" -- exactly the opposite of their record.
There are few municipal-news stories in Local today to tell readers how well or how poorly their towns are being run in return for all those property taxes they pay.
Except for the centerpiece on new immigrants, including a man who left Cuba nine years ago, the entire Local front today is devoted to Law & Order developments and settlement of a lawsuit against the Teaneck Public Library director (L-1).
On L-3, no one asked the new superintendent in Englewood what he will do to integrate the elementary and middle schools.
Instead, Robert Kravitz was praised for his management and business skills, including starting a company that sold desserts to local restaurants.
Staff Writer Kim Lueddeke doesn't say where Kravitz lives, whether he has children and where he will send them to school.
Kravitz has been superintendent of the Englewood Cliffs district since 2012.
Freelancer Julia Sexton warns readers that the chef at Grange in Westwood has given the New American menu "a sugary, pan-tropical spin."
One dish, Floribbean Shrimp, is made with spiced rum and pineapple cream sauce ($12).
The delicate flavor of the shellfish, Sexton explains, "struggled to be heard in all that sugar" (BL-16).
Yet, one of the two dishes she recommends in the 2-star review is creme brulee "whose warm crust of caramelized sugar yielded with a pleasing crack."
Sexton is no better than Elisa Ung, the dessert-obsessed chief restaurant critic.
With both, the legions of diabetic readers also are struggling to be heard.