Doria pulled out his victory against a strong challenge by retired Municipal Judge Patrick Conaghan, who had proposed a change of plans for the MOTBY that would have included a container port as well as light industrial, office space and retail uses as opposed to residential development.
"We believe that the container port is the big issue of this campaign," said Michael O'Connor, in favor of Doria.
Conaghan, however, said the container port was less an issue than the overall development plans.
"I believe the MOTBY should provide jobs for the community, not homes which Bayonne residents can't afford to purchase," Conaghan said.
Polls suggested a close race
Although pre-election polls varied from dead even between the two candidates to a significant lead for Doria, strategies for the Doria camp changed going into the runoff election.
On May 9, Conaghan's workers swept the city after 5 p.m. to get out the late vote that eventually allowed him to get into the runoff. The Doria team, in contrast, ran a conventional election that had his workers winding down in the last few hours. Plans for the June 13 election changed as the Doria team created a three-tier plan to get out the vote, concentrating on senior citizens during the day, parents after school, and commuters after 5 p.m.
The plan would have campaign workers reaching out to seniors prior to 3 p.m., assuring them rides to the polls in order to make certain they vote. Women campaign workers would be sent to each of the schools prior to the end of the school day to approach parents and remind them to vote. After 5 p.m., Doria campaign workers were to focus on the light rail and bus lines to greet commuters, offering them a ride to the polls and then a ride home.
Other municipal officials split in their support of mayoral candidates Doria and Conaghan faced off in the June 13 runoff after finishing first and second in a four-way race that pitted Doria, Conaghan, Vincent Militello and Leonard Kantor in the May 9 election.
After being eliminated from the mayoral runoff, Militello threw his support behind Doria, although many of those who ran on his ticket eventually backed Conaghan, as did Kantor.
The May 9 election, however, saw a complete council elected free of a runoff with incumbent Councilman at-Large Anthony Chiappone dominating the election results, and because he won more than the necessary votes to avoid a runoff, Councilman Vincent Lo Re - who came in second - also won an at-large seat.
Chiappone and newly elected 3rd Ward Councilman Gary LaPelusa threw their support behind Conaghan.
Lo Re, as well as re-elected 2nd Ward Councilman John Halecky and 1st Ward Councilman Ted Connolly endorsed Doria.
"I think Mayor Doria is the best choice for the future of Bayonne," Lo Re said.
The Conaghan team believed the parade of endorsements would make the difference in the close race - and believed that most Militello voters would vote against Doria despite Militello's endorsement for Doria.
"The big issue is the rise in taxes over the last eight years," said Chiappone. "I believe Judge Conaghan is the best person in this race to address the issue of taxes."
Last weekend campaign surges
Both Doria and Conaghan campaign teams were active in the weekend before the election delivering flyers throughout the city.
School-aged kids wearing Doria Team T-shirts had gone door-to-door throughout the city drumming up support for Doria.
Some residents complained about the kid brigade, claiming their arrival only pushed them to vote for Conaghan. But confident Doria campaign workers believed the kid brigade formed a vital link with voters and increased the number of people that actually voted.
Conaghan workers continued to visit local supermarkets and other areas of the city meeting and greeting the public.
"We got nothing but positive support for our campaign," Conaghan said.
Negative campaigns The last weekend of the election also saw a surge in negative campaigning with the Doria team slamming Conaghan on residency and on environmental rulings he made as a judge.
A sexual harassment lawsuit filed against some city officials in the closing days of the campaign was - according to Doria people - politically motivated, a last-minute cheap shot to throw the Doria administration into a negative light.
But negative advertisements plagued the whole campaign with both sides making dramatic claims about the other candidate. How much this impacted on the final result has yet to be determined.
Al Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org