Hoping to find success in the midst of a brutal contest between two well-established political machines, West New York commissioner candidate Adil Ahmed says he is running on issues, including abolishing the parking authority and improving the rent control office.
“I realize that there’s so much history between these two camps and it gets very personal. I think the town suffers when the politics don’t function and then the government doesn’t function,” Ahmed said about the bloodsport going on between the Forward with Roque and New Beginnings West New York teams.
While the two factions, one led my Mayor Felix Roque and the other by Public Safety Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez, have received the lion’s share of attention this election cycle, Ahmed is one of six other candidates who will be on the May 14th ballot.
Although he could’ve sat this one out and waited for a less crowded, contentious battle, the attorney says that he’s fed up with the political infighting and knows he isn’t the only West New Yorker seeking change.
“I’m tired of it and I know so many people in town who are too. When we were out there getting petitions and knocking on doors, about 90 percent of the people we talked to were like ‘yes, we want someone who’s completely unchained from the past who can sort of think independently and who has the right values that our community believes in.'”
Roque and Rodriguez, along with Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo, Margarita Guzman and Susan Colacurcio, successfully ran together in 2015, but a public divide began to come to light a little over a year ago.
Now, Rodriguez, Cirillo and Guzman, backed by U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), a former West New York mayor, are forging ahead as the New Beginnings Team, with Roque and Colacurcio breaking off to find new recruits to challenge them.
While split tickets are unusual, many say impossible, in North Hudson, Ahmed says that isn’t going to stop him from pushing what he feels are good government initiatives, such as abolishing the parking authority.
“Since January, we’ve been advocating to eliminate the parking authority and merging it into the town,” Ahmed said, noting that in the midst of the chaos at the April 17th board of commissioners meeting, a measure to dissolve the parking authority failed.
The vote came after the town conducted a study that indicated they could save around $400,000 by merging the autonomous agency with the municipal government, though that report was released late last year.
“… The resolution didn’t have a lot of meat to it and I think it’s important for there to be a lot of substance to that because, yes, you eliminate the parking authority, that sounds really good, but the whole is purpose … is so that there’s more oversight.”
Ahmed, who left his job to run for commissioner, also spoke about making improvements to the rent control office.
For one, he thinks an office of education is essential for keeping residents informed, and that rent control office hours should consistently be held in town.
“I think when we have a government where people are playing different roles and aren’t working together, than that hurts people, that hurts the residents of this time. So what we’re doing is actually creating a program, a platform, so those things can’t happen.”