Washington Flores, a former Bayonne council candidate, will be running alongside Jersey City businessman Bruce Alston in the District 31 Assembly race, after Bayonne firefighter Pat O’Brien backed out of running with Alston earlier this month.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Flores and Alston went down to Trenton today to file their petitions for nomination with the state Board of Elections, submitting around 959 signatures to the clerk’s office between the two of them.
“I spoke to a few people close to me, a few of my supporters … and at the end of the day, I decided we shouldn’t have a candidate forced down our throats,” Flores said when asked about the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s pick out of Bayonne – attorney Nicholas Chiaravalloti.
“I am Bayonne … While [Chiaravalloti] was wheeling and dealing getting people in other areas elected, I was here working for the community.”
In a statement, Chiaravalloti said that he submitted 500 signatures, speaking highly of his running mate, Angela McKnight, and of the opportunity in general.
“For me, this campaign is about reaching out to the entire community – in Bayonne and Jersey City,” he said Chiaravalloti. “I am excited about running with Angela. She is committed to helping others and touches the lives of Jersey City seniors every day through her nonprofit.”
“I look forward to the campaign and the opportunity to talk with residents about how working together we can do more for our community.”
Flores joins a crowded field on the last day to submit petitions, which also includes Joe Conte, Ray Regalado, Dejon Morris, McKnight – the HCDO’s pick out of Jersey City – and incumbent Charles Mainor.
“I think the Jersey City vote is going to split, it’s going to be all over the place. So I think this is an opportunity where Bayonne can carry this race,” Flores rationalized.
Flores was blown out in the May 14 Bayonne council election last year, garnering just 178 votes in the third ward race, getting beaten handily by winner Gary LaPelusa – who pulled 1,670 votes in contest with five candidates.
“My main focus would be on bringing money into Bayonne for the board of education,” Flores added regarding what legislation needs to be brought to District 31.
“Teachers are fighting with the board and the administration, so if I’m lucky enough to get down to Trenton, that would be my top priority: getting money into this school district.”
Alston said that Flores was a natural fit as a running mate, also taking some shots at Mainor’s last-minute decision to rage against the HCDO-machine and run off the line.
“We sat down over the last 10 days, speaking about philosophy, I think it’s a real good fit,” Alston said.
“Mainor said it all himself: If he makes it to Trenton, he’s a powerless Assemblyman. How does that benefit the people? He’s demonstrated that he cannot develop relationships with legislators,” noting that Mainor has burnt bridges with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31).
“What is he going to do to empower legislation?”
Mainor did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.