In a heavyweight showdown that was a whopping three years in the making, causing “Rumble of the Jungle” level-hype behind it, the end result was pretty anti-climatic when West New York Mayor Felix Roque handily defeated then-Commisisoner Count Wiley in the May 12 municipal election.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Coming in on the list at No. 4 last year, Roque convincingly finished the fight on May 12, 2015 with his five-person slate soundly defeating Wiley’s West New York United team – ending his tenure as an elected official.
The allies turned enemies (Wiley was elected with Roque in 2011) had a relatively tepid election season by West New York standards, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t trade stand in the pocket and trade on multiple occasions.
Predictably, Wiley drew first blood by accusing a board of education employee of threatening teachers to help get the vote out for Roque.
Roque was undaunted by the allegations, not even bothering to publicly address them as he was too busy prepping for a hearty endorsement from the Hudson County Democratic Organization the next day.
Wiley was equally unimpressed, simultaneously hosting a fundraiser at Rumba Cubana, promising he could still taste victory.
One of the hottest topics during the election stemmed from flyers with a cartoon depicting the West New York United slate in some uncompromising situations with racial and religious overtones.
Both sides denied having any involvement in the creation of the flyers and accused one another of engaging in “dirty” politics. In Hudson County? Say it ain’t so!
Another bizarre “only in West New York” type of scenario played out just days before Election Day, where ex-Commissioner Ruben Vargas led a protest against WNY United over the fact that they did not have a candidate of Dominican descent (seriously).
The highlight of the season came when Roque accused Wiley of assaulting his son on Election Day morning.
Roque channeled the late, great former heavyweight champion of the world “Macho Man” Randy Savage when he told Hudson County View that he’d “make a man out of” Wiley for picking a fight with his flesh and blood.
While Roque and Wiley never threw fisticuffs in the street, ring or cage, Roque made sure that Wiley is now an afterthought among West New York politicos and the window for a comeback, if there ever was one, seems to have slammed shut a long time ago.
Life still isn’t perfect for Roque, given that he was hit with his second indictment in the past three years (he beat hacking charges the first time) less than a month after winning re-election.
Nevertheless, he and his inner circle, led by Town Attorney Donald “The Don” Scarinci, have effectively erased any semblance of opposition in West New York. For now.