Former West New York Commissioner Ruben Vargas led a protest in front of town hall Friday night, where a group of individuals of Dominican descent complained that they had no representation on Commissioner Count Wiley’s WNY United ticket. However, Wiley supporters appeared to make sure that the event was short-lived, based on a lengthy YouTube video.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a 28-minute video uploaded to YouTube by user Rich Gomez, town employee John Pinto repeatedly approaches Vargas, as well as a couple of protesters, asking why one of Wiley’s running mates has to be Dominican.
“I have to represent my people here,” says Vargas, who is Dominican, at around the three-minute, 48 second mark of the video.
“You represented them, you never done nothing for them for four years,” Pinto quipped back while filming the conversation on a cell phone.
“I did a lot, you know,” Vargas responded.
Vargas currently works as the head of security for the town’s housing authority.
A couple dozen people appeared to have been in attendance for the protest, which seemed to take place primarily in Spanish.
Nevertheless, signs displayed phrases such as “Wiley don’t you like diversity?,” “Wiley Dominicans will show their power on May 12,” and “Count you can’t count on our vote.”
By approximately the 20-minute mark of the video, the protest already seems to be clearing out, thought it is unclear exactly when the event began.
Pinto continually calls the concept of the protest “racist,” since he feels that by insisting a certain nationality has to be on Wiley’s ticket, it is implying racial superiority – as opposed to advocating for the most qualified candidates for the job.
Despite going back-and-forth with Vargas on a number of occasions, they hug it out towards the end of the video (beginning at the 23:14 mark), with Pinto saying: “Ruben, that was wrong what you did today, c’mon man, that was wrong. You’re better than that.”
Vargas smiles and replies “a politician [sic] is a whore’s game.”
The West New York United team consists of Wiley, who is half Puerto Rican and half Italian, Carlos Betancourt, who is Cuban, Hector Hernandez – an Ecuadorian candidate, Myrli Sanchez, who is Puerto Rican, and Thomas Leung – a candidate of Chinese descent.
Roque’s slate of course consists of the mayor, who was born in Cuba, Cosmo Cirillo, who is Italian, Gabriel Rodriguez, another Cuban candidate, Susan Colacurcio, another Italian candidate and Margarita Guzman – who is Dominican.
Ralph Sanchez, Jr., West New York United’s campaign spokesman – who is Dominican and was originally on the slate, but opted to let his wife Myrli run instead – told Hudson County View that there is nothing wrong with protesting a cause in general, but it should not be used to “manipulate information.”
“Everyone has a right to protest under the First Amendment, but this was a clear stunt to manipulate information to the public,” Sanchez said in a text message.
“Their own protesters were confused as to why they were protesting. Mr Vargas himself admitted he was just following orders.”
Pablo Fonseca, Roque’s campaign spokesman, did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.
The full video in question, which occasionally contains some coarse language, can be viewed here.
Viewer discretion is advised, video contains some instances of profanity: