Most people don't really know what a County Freeholder is.
And that is exactly why Kurt Gardiner is running in Tuesday's election to become one of nine Hudson County Freeholders, a legislative county board that decides on the county's budget and many projects in and around Hoboken.
"People don't know what that actually means," Gardiner, 44, said in a recent phone interview. "That's another reason why I should run." Another reason, he said, is to challenge incumbent Anthony Romano, who otherwise would have ran unopposed. With a little competition, Gardiner said, "things seem to happen a little better."
Gardiner was also inspired to run because he said he believes that Hobokenites pay too much county taxes without getting the services back they deserve.
Gardiner said he considers himself a long shot to win. Romano, the incumbent, is backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization and is running on the same slate as Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, County Executive Tom DeGise and Assemblyman candidate from Jersey City Sean Connors.
Gardiner is running as an independent in Column C.
And although Gardiner may not expect to win, the point of his campaign, he said, is to raise awareness. "At least we have an election this time," he said.
Gardiner, originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, moved to Hoboken in 2003 from Astoria, Queens. A Hoboken home owner since 2005, he said has found his home in Hoboken and couldn't imagine leaving and said he wants to "fight" for the town.
One of the ways Gardiner has tried to make himself known around town is as a political blogger and commenter on multiple web sites and forums in the Mile Square as Gardiner is known to be a supporter of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and has expressed that on his blog The Hoboken Journal.
Zimmer—who'd have to pick between the incumbent and a political supporter—hasn't endorsed anybody in the freeholder race. "The mayor has a lot of battles to fight," Gardiner said. "Staying neutral makes sense."
Gardiner works for an insurance company in Manhattan and commutes to the city every day. As Freeholder, he said, "I won't take the company car." He said that if he goes to meetings he'll rent a car or take public transit.
If elected, Gardiner said, he wants to fight to make Washington Street a county-owned road, and have the county pay for the re-paving of Hoboken's main drag. "Most people who use Washington Street aren't from Hoboken," Gardiner said. It's also on that street where Gardiner has done most of his campaigning, walking up and down, talking to people. He said he's hoping to get some volunteers to help distribute "low-cost" flyers this weekend and help get the word out about the election.
Gardiner's campaign is completely self-funded, he said. He said he'd plan to spend about $2,500 of his own money.
Besides victory, Gardiner is hoping for a lot of people to come out and vote on Tuesday. "A good turn out, win or lose," Gardiner said, "sends a strong message to the county."