Commissioner Wiley, Mayor Roque factions feud over racially tinged protest


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.

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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, like Wiley, was elected with Roque in the May 2011 municipal election. He resigned due to “personal circumstances” on January 22 and was replaced by Cosmo Cirillo on February 4.

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: 


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  1. Why can’t the Column C team be more creative and find other ways to do politics, instead of copying Pastor Sanchez protest a month a go. What haters. Sounds like D is winning. I wasn’t going to get involved in telling my connections to vote for anyone specific but to be silent is to be guilty.

    Vote D
    Vota Columna D

  2. Thank you. John Heinis for reporting this very important story. Thank you, BIG TIME, John Pinto, for providing Excellent questions and commentary to Ex-Commissioner Vargas. Raphael Sanchez is spot on in his responses. Are Roque’s Dominican supporters only voting for Ms. Gizman because she is Dominican?! Did Roque choose Ms. Guzman for his ticket to have Dominican voters vote for her without consideration for IF SHE IS QUALIFIED FOR, AND CAN DO A JOB FOR ALL WNY’ers, Not just Dominicans? All WNY voters ARE AMERICANS. Let’s leave our narrow minded ethnicity litmus test at home on May 12.

    Patrick Cullen
    Column F Commissioner Candidate
    Our Town is not for sale

  3. Of course the protesters are confused. They don’t know how to vote. They don’t even know the issues. 3/4 of Hudson County vote because of the race of the person. This nit-wits have no idea of the issues. They do what there told by radio and the television.

  4. john pinto is the number 1 person to say what has to be said ruben vargas needs to stop talking sh”tt and my uncle who owns la llave a dominican person who filled out paper work to be the town hardware supplier and roque and ruben kept stalling the paper work dont belive this guy nonsense he cant even spell

  5. Pinto nailed him… I can’t believe when Ruben says Politics is a whore game! Why was Ruben and Fior Daliza kicked out of the ticket Roque’s ticket! Because they were both dominican and Sires and company did mot want them anymore!

  6. allow me to take you on an adventure and be your conscience point this out to the Latino community let’s not forget that mayor felix e roque had two Dominicans both commissioners he kicked them off his ticket he got rid of Ruben Vargas because he thought that he was a weak person he got rid of commissioner frias because according to roque she was a pain of the ass always going to his dr office and running to him for everything. He also thought that she was lazy and annoying. He never asked her to come back and she was replaced by another non dominican community apprised mayor roque and his cronies treat Latino community as second class citizens but I know for a fact from talking to so many of you people out here that the joke is on them and he will find out on election day that we the latinos are fed up with all that crap.

  7. Everyone has a right to protest under the 1st amendment, but this was a clear stunt to manipulate information to the public. Their own protestors where confused as to why they where protesting. Mr.Vargas himself admitted he was just following orders. This was a reckless and desperate cry for attention. I was disappointed to witness Sue Calacursio drive by and honk the horn and pump her fist in total approval, especially when the nation is on edge with these types of demonstrations.

    • oh please sanchez one has nothing to do with the other…speaking of protests didnt your group recently lead one?? sounds like a hypocrite to me raffy! bottom line is the Dominican community plays a big role in WNY and column D has no Dominicans representing them…you dropped out because you couldn’t handle being commissioner and also how bad would it look if 5 men ran for commissioner you had to put a woman almost by default…you can’t BS people sanchez

  8. You are absolutely right, Patrick Cullen. “Narrow minded” is a good way to describe Roque and co. They only care about getting votes, not about the having capable people run this town.

    On Election Day, ANYONE but Roque!

  9. The shadow knows and agrees with John Pinto. The Latino community knows Vargas and the administration have the ‘muela’ (gift of gab) but haven’t delivered the goods. The entire community needs to pull together and vote the administration out.

    The shadow has learned that the State AG will be pursuing an investigation into the BOE, specifically Acosta and Reyes.

  10. what a joke! Ralph Sanchez and his bullies Pinto and Rivera bullying people who want to demonstrate to express what they think.

    Mr. Cullen: Ms. Guzman is not only Dominican but she is MORE qualified than Myrli Sanchez. Ms. Sanchez does NOT have bachelor’s degree, ask her to show her school transcript, and name of the school she graduated from. She has been lying to you for a long time regarding her work experience and qualifications.

    Ms. Sanchez should also show the dates and titles where she was the CFO of the company she claims she was. Responsible journalism should investigate those lies Ms. Sanchez is saying.

    Ralph should get a real job, rather than stealing from poor people.

    Vote Anthony De Fino and Juan Espinal for Mayor!

    • Sounds pretty far fetched a Pastor with two henchmen? Ready to kick ass at will? Sounds awesome, I wanna go to that church. As far as Ms. Guzman….are you kidding me have your heard her speak..I’d rather have Ruben back. That’s a joke. Either way I’m not voting for loudmouth Defino he ought to relax before people find out he’s a dummy ticket, or even worse that he’s a drug dealer. At least Espinal is Dominican lol

    • “People who want to demonstrate to express what they think” ??? Are you serious?? These people don’t think. They are a bunch of sheep who do whatever somebody tells them to do. They didn’t even know what they were protesting. Roque likes to keep people ignorant so they will do whatever he wants them to.
      An informed voter is Roque’s worst enemy.

      On Election Day, ANYONE but Roque!!!

  11. Fonseca,

    You said you weren’t going negative, and yet another misleading flyer goes out after you made your statement outside of 6100 Adams.

    Ask Ms Guzman for her transcript from that school in DR.

    Cooler heads will prevail.

  12. Let me get this right: Vargas alleges that Wiley is racist because there are no Dominicans on his ticket. Then using the same logic, Roque is anti-Semitic because there are no Jews on his ticket.

  13. This Pinto guy is the funniest cat I’ve ever seen. Where has this guy been all my life holy crap…I almost peed my pants! Why doesnt he have his own reality show? Somebody send this guy to interview Racist Roque and Slippery Silvio….the two master minds behind foot in mouth Vargas nut job. He made is people look like a bunch of deer in headlights. Wierdo

  14. Let’s not forget that Ruben Vargas doesn’t even have a High School degree and yet is the head of security in housing.

    Then there are rumors of sexual encounters between former commissioner Vargas and a very young woman, whose father supposedly now works for the town.

  15. And remember the job Vargas was given – at Roque’s direction – at the school district and he could not even give a job description. He did not even know what his job entailed. That was in the OFAC report.

    Roque has no principled people on his team, so the decent, principled people of this town are not represented either.

    On Election Day, ANYONE but Roque!

  16. Has everyone lost there minds, Its not “anyone but roque” everyone(SUE CALACURCCIO, Rodriguez, cirrillo, GUZMAN) on his ticket including fonseca and vilma and silvio are part of everything has happened in this town, including extorting and intimidating and lying to residents and business owners and falsifying allegations!!!!

    Vote Wiley, Cullen, Sanchez, Thomas, Rosario

    • Yes, you are right. I should be more clear, “Anyone but Roque or his people”.

      Wouldn’t it be funny if Roque got in, but none of his slate did. Then he’d just be a commissioner, with the mayor and other commissioners (whoever they are) against him. He wouldn’t be the big cheese so he’d probably run away like the little coward he is. lol
      I’d love to see that.

    • what exactly has that guy from the waterfront done for WNY?? where was he back in 2011?? i probably can count the number of times he has been on bergenline on 2 hands…ask him where las palmas is he will most likely use google to answer that! LOL

      • please Use your own Alias, don’t be so cynical,whats so funny? it doesn’t matter what you say, everyone knows Wiley, Sanchez, Leung, Cullen have more to offer this town than just “business as usual”. They will not sell out and make back door deals or take a parking authority job. They won’t do as they are told but make the right decisions for everyone in WNY. just stop the bashing for the sake of our town.

  17. The only guys that have done anything are Wiley and Roque is a two man race easy to see just vote for both again and lets see them kill each other for 4 more years. WNY is going to be boring again like with Vega. So just Vote Wiley, Roque, Sanchez, Cullen, Betancourt with the Pinto Guy as Deputy Mayor taping everything then order season ticket to the meetings

    • Cullen will get as many votes as he did for the school elections…who are Bentancourt and Sanchez??? if you think they will get more votes then Cirillo or Calacurcio then I have a bridge to sell you