- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 1, 2009

HOBOKEN, N.J. | Mayor Peter Cammarano III resigned Friday, just three weeks after taking office and a week after vowing to stay in office and fight federal corruption charges against him.

Mr. Cammarano, who won a June runoff election, was snared last week in a sweeping federal corruption probe that resulted in the arrests of 44 people, including rabbis and dozens of public officials.

The 32-year-old attorney - Hoboken’s youngest mayor - sent a letter to the city clerk Friday saying his resignation was effective at noon. City Council President Dawn Zimmer entered the City Council chamber to a standing ovation and was sworn in moments later as the city’s first female acting mayor.

“I apologize to the residents of Hoboken for the disruption and disappointment this case has caused,” Mr. Cammarano said in his resignation letter.

Mr. Cammarano, an election-law attorney, is accused of accepting $25,000 in bribes in exchange for help on a purported high-rise building project in the city. He is the second elected official to resign in the wake of the arrests.

In the letter and through his attorney, he reiterated his innocence and said he still intends to fight the charges.

“It became clear in the past six or seven days that, given the controversy surrounding his case, he could not perform his duties,” said Cammarano attorney Joseph Hayden. “It was injurious to Hoboken government for him to stay in there, not to mention the fact that the controversy was a burden on his family.”

Gov. Jon Corzine had praised Mr. Cammarano as a rising star in the Democratic Party. But that turned to disgust after Mr. Cammarano’s arrest, and Mr. Corzine announced on Thursday that the mayor would resign.

Miss Zimmer, who lost the June 10 runoff election to Mr. Cammarano by 161 votes, said he called her Friday morning and wished her luck.

“I am committed to open, honest government and to set a new direction for Hoboken,” she said.

A special election will be held in November to fill the remainder of Mr. Cammarano’s term; Miss Zimmer said she plans to run in it.

Mr. Cammarano’s arrest came at a tough time for Hoboken, which has become a bedroom community of sorts for Manhattan, N.Y., professionals. Financial industry layoffs have hit the city hard, flooding the real estate market with homes for sale or rent.

Residents seemed relieved Mr. Cammarano is leaving office. Many have protested outside the mayor’s home and at City Hall with signs that said “Shame on You” and “Resign.”

Dinorah Vargas, 50, a lifelong Hoboken resident, said she didn’t vote for Mr. Cammarano and was hopeful his resignation would be the start of reform in the 1-square-mile waterfront town that served as the setting for “On the Waterfront,” the 1954 Marlon Brando film about dock worker union corruption.

“I’m glad it’s over,” said Miss Vargas. “We have to move forward, and I think it’s going to be a different city.”

Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, who was among those arrested in the corruption sweep, resigned earlier this week.

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