Once political allies who helped each other get elected as part of the same five-person commissioner slate in 2011, that’s now ancient history as West New York Commissioner Count Wiley has been fighting to unseat friend-turned-foe Mayor Felix Roque since June 2012 and their final showdown could commence this May.
Wiley quickly transformed from a Hudson County Democratic Organization byproduct to a reform fighter during an infamous June 2012 board of commissioners meeting, where he went off on Roque for the first time for switching the departments of all five commissioners (h/t The Jersey Journal).
He’s never looked back since, blasting Roque on matters ranging from the way the town zoning board is run, the municipal funds being spent to settle lawsuits and the mayor’s alleged relationship with indicted West New York contractor Victor Coca.
That doesn’t mean Roque hasn’t rattled off some offense of his own in recent memory, hiring Wiley’s former campaign manager, Dave Hepperle, in the department of public works in January and the board of commissioners appointing him to the planning board in June.
Furthermore, Roque has turned former bitter adversaries Frank Ferreiro and ex-Mayor Sal Vega into allies, which certainly can’t hurt his chances in May where he’s all but guaranteed mayoral endorsements from HCDO heavyweights U.S Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and State Senator (D-32)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco and Assembly Speaker/HCDO Chairman Vincent Prieto (D-32).
Let’s also not forget that Roque has become a master of getting good PR since recruiting spokesman Pablo Fonseca, who helped bring U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to prominence, and attorney Donald Scarinci, a childhood friend of Menendez, as part of the team.
Additionally, Roque flexed his political muscled when his four-person Children First team won every vacant board of education spot up for grabs in November.
Although Wiley formed an alliance with Carlos “Chucky” Betancourt to form the West New York United ticket earlier this month, they will have their work cut out for them when the HCDO more than likely turns this municipal election into a money spending contest.
Still, even if he loses, don’t expect Wiley to do it without throwing at least a few more wild haymakers on the way down.