|38th Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey|
July 31, 2009
(Acting July 31, 2009 - November 6, 2009)
|Preceded by||Peter Cammarano|
April 16, 1968 |
Towson, Maryland, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Stan Grossbard (2 children)|
|Alma mater||University of New Hampshire|
|Religion||Judaism (originally Unitarian (Christian))|
Dawn Zimmer (born April 16, 1968) is the 38th mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. As president of the Hoboken City Council, she became Acting Mayor after incumbent Peter Cammarano's resignation on July 31, 2009 following his arrest on corruption charges. Zimmer is the first female mayor of Hoboken. She was first elected mayor in a special election for the balance of Cammarano's term on November 6, 2009 and was re-elected mayor for another 4 year term in November 2013. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, she was ranked #3, #4 and #5, respectively, on The Hudson Reporter's list of the 50 most influential people in Hudson County, New Jersey.
Dawn Zimmer was born in Towson, Maryland, and raised in Laconia, New Hampshire. She is of German and Irish descent. She attended public schools and graduated cum laude in 1990 from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in history.
Zimmer taught English at a private language school in Japan from 1990 to 1993. She worked at Sumitomo Corporation of America doing internal and external communications for four years and in public relations specializing in crisis communications at Edelman Worldwide for three years. She has also worked as a family portrait photographer and as marketing director for her husband's jewelry business. She and her family moved to Hoboken from New York City in September 2002.
Early civic work
Zimmer became involved in civic life in Hoboken in 2006 when she joined the Southwest Parks Coalition Steering Committee to advocate for more park space in southwest Hoboken's 4th Ward. She also served as a board member of the Kaplan Cooperative Preschool and as secretary of the Parent Teacher Student Organization for the Elysian Charter School. In 2007, she ran for Hoboken City Council in the 4th Ward against incumbent Christopher Campos. In the first election in May, neither candidate reached 50 percent, necessitating a runoff election. Zimmer outpolled Campos in the June runoff by eight votes, but Campos challenged the results, charging that absentee ballots were improperly handled. Zimmer in turn charged that Campos had received votes from non-residents. A second runoff was called in November, with Zimmer defeating Campos by a margin of 1,070 votes to 956.
In October 2007, Zimmer, as Hoboken's 4th Ward Councilwoman, supported a voter referendum to create an Open Space Trust Fund. Originally this fund could have been used to pay maintenance on existing parks but Councilwoman Zimmer and other Councilpeople voted to ensure that it would only be used for the acquisition of new space and the maintenance of new space.
Zimmer ran for Mayor of Hoboken in 2009. She lost to Peter Cammarano in the June runoff by 161 votes. On July 1, when Cammarano was sworn in as mayor, the City Council unanimously elected Zimmer as Council President.
On July 23, 2009, Cammarano was arrested by the FBI as part of a major corruption and international money laundering conspiracy probe known as Operation Bid Rig. Cammarano was charged with accepting $25,000 in cash bribes from an undercover cooperating witness. The same witness approached Zimmer's campaign staff and was unsuccessful in setting up a meeting. She joined other local officials in calling for Cammarano's resignation.
On July 31, 2009, Cammarano resigned from office, and Zimmer was immediately sworn in as Acting Mayor. On November 3, 2009, she won a special election to fill the rest of Cammarano's mayoral term. In the special election, Zimmer faced six opponents: City Councilwoman Beth Mason, businessman Frank Raia, former Hoboken Municipal Court judge Kimberly Glatt, Hoboken Republican Club co-founder Nathan Brinkman, management consultant Everton A. Wilson, and former corrections officer Patricia Waiters. She finished with 43% of the vote, with Mason in second place with 23% and Raia in third place with 18%. As it was a special election, no runoff was required. Zimmer was sworn in as Mayor on November 6, 2009, giving up her City Council seat. In 2008, Hoboken City had come under State Supervision due to an 11.7 million dollar budget deficit. By the end of her first term, Hoboken had a balanced budget, had cut taxes by 12%, and the city's bond rating had gone from BBB- to AA+, the second highest S&P rating. Zimmer was re-elected as Mayor along with her entire ticket in November 2013.
Mayor Zimmer played a significant role in privatizing Hoboken University Hospital (formerly St. Mary Hospital), and keeping it from closing in 2011. The hospital—New Jersey's oldest—faced closure due to severe financial problems. The City of Hoboken had guaranteed $52 million of the hospital's debt, so its failure would have had been financially devastating for the city.
Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
In 2012 Zimmer was widely acclaimed for leadership during the aftermath Hurricane Sandy. On September 9, 2013, she was recognized as "Hero of the Harbor" by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance for her work "to make her city a national model for preparedness, meeting with FEMA and state officials, urban planners, scientists and many others to create an 'integrated solution'" For her leadership during Hurricane Sandy Mayor Zimmer was appointed to the President's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
In November 2013, President Obama named Zimmer to the Presidential Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
In December 2013, Mayor Zimmer testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship on Thursday, December. She discussed the impact Hurricane Sandy has had on Hoboken and the challenges still faced with the recovery process. She met with Members of Congress to highlight the unmet needs of businesses and residents.
Same sex marriage
Zimmer has been a strong proponent of same sex marriage and publicly urged Governor Christie to change his position in opposition. On October 27, 2013 Zimmer performed the first same-sex marriage in Hoboken.
Relationship with Governor Christie
In May 2010 Zimmer invited Governor Christie to speak in Hoboken in his first of a series of town hall meetings throughout the state supporting the 2% tax levy cap. She supported the property tax cap as the part of a package of legislation that includes changes to the arbitration process, shared services and the disciplinary process. "There is nothing partisan about being smart and responsible with money entrusted [to us] by our citizens", Zimmer said. That September Christie was invited back to the city to speak at Elysian Charter School about his education reform agenda and the role of charter schools. Zimmer, whose two children attend Elysian Charter School, echoed concerns on the feasibility of funding charter schools, in light of the lack of state aid for facility-related expenses.
On August 20, 2013 The Star-Ledger reporter Jenna Portnoy posted on Twitter that Zimmer had stated she would not endorse either major candidate in that November's race pitting Republican Christie against Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono.
In January 2014, not long after the Bridgegate scandal erupted, Zimmer publicly stated that top officials of the Christie administration deliberately held back Hurricane Sandy relief funds from the city in order to pressure her to approve a Christie ally's developmental project. She said that in May 2013, during a meeting in a parking lot with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Guadagno told her that unless she (Zimmer) approved the deal, the Sandy funds would be held back. Christie officials categorically denied the allegations. Zimmer has stated that she did not come forward earlier because she thought her claims would not be believed. She met with the members of the U.S. Attorney's office on January 19, 2014, turning over undisclosed evidence. A subsequent investigation conducted by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a law firm hired by Christie, found no evidence to support Zimmer's accusations, calling them "demonstrably false" and "unbelievable". Zimmer dismissed the report as biased and said she was still willing to repeat her allegations under oath.
In 2012 the Hudson Reporter named Zimmer as #3 in its list of Hudson County's 50 most influential people entities, behind North Bergen mayor Nicholas Sacco and Union City mayor Brian P. Stack. She was ranked #4 in 2013, and #5 in 2014.
Zimmer is married to Stan Grossbard, who is President of the RCDC Corporation, a diamond manufacturing and wholesaling company that markets the Original Radiant Cut Diamond, which was invented in 1977 by his father, Henry Grossbard. Zimmer converted from Unitarianism to Judaism. Stan Grossbard and Dawn Zimmer have two children.
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Media related to Dawn Zimmer at Wikimedia Commons