Latino Seeks to Be Mayor of Hoboken

Ron Bautista (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Ronald Bautista, 31, likes to be called Ron – the North American way – and is aiming high: He wants to change the face of Hoboken through an ambitious plan.

To do that, he wants to become mayor of his city.

According to the 2010 census, Hoboken, famous for being Frank Sinatra’s birthplace, has a population of 50,005. The majority – 82.4 percent – are white, and 15 percent are Hispanic. Behind the city’s prosperous appearance lies a big transportation problem and a high cost of living. Its annual budget is $107 million.

In order to solve the traffic problem, Ron is proposing a system of exclusive lanes for public transportation for NJ Transit buses and jitneys.

“The system is going to be implemented on Staten Island and it is also operating successfully in Quito, Lima and Bogota,” said Ron, adding that he worked as a consultant in the design of the project on western Staten Island.

This method would improve traffic, service punctuality and safety the way it does with trains. Ron’s vision is to implement it in Hoboken first and, once its efficiency is demonstrated, see it expand to the rest of New Jersey to relieve the vehicular chaos in our cities.

Moreover, Ron has set his sights on promoting local culture with the purpose of opening up spaces for artists of Latino heritage, as well as from all other ethnicities. This includes making an intensive use of the Hudson River bank, which “could become a square where events are held in the style of the Viña del Mar song contest in Chile.”

“Another aspect of our campaign is based on promoting entrepreneurship through art and music. Artists are an integral part of our society, not just for entertainment purposes, but also because they create resources and earnings for the city,” he said.

His campaign is also concerned with Hoboken’s high cost of living, which threatens the well-being of seniors in the area. He wants the city to intervene by taking preventive measures to benefit seniors.

Ron immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 1999 with his mother, an English professor, after the economic collapse that made his parents’ savings vanish.

The following year, his father, a commercial engineer working in marketing, followed them here.

Ron has lived in Hoboken, in Hudson County, ever since he arrived. He studied there, and says he knows the city’s problems like the back of his hand.

Despite the fact that whites are the largest demographic group in the city, Ron said that he has a great chance of winning if he can get the entire Latino community behind his proposals, particularly Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, who are the majority of the city’s Latino residents.

“We have 7,000 Latino residents, of whom 5,000 are registered voters. If we take into account that no mayor has been elected with more than 6,000 votes, I think we have a chance,” said the aspiring politician.

That would be the case in an average three-candidate election scenario. However, there are currently seven mayoral candidates, which could signify an advantage for Ron.

“I am the only Latino among the seven candidates. If we go by the numbers, I have a high probability of winning if the Latino population votes en masse,” he said.

To that, he would like to add the support he has been asking from other communities where he has been working for four years.

Moments before this interview, Ron had registered his candidacy with 427 signatures. The minimum is 360. He is now ready to start campaigning to replace current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose term ends on Dec. 31. Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 7.

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