In the latest round of the West New York race, Mayor Felix Roque asked the state attorney general to look into allegations of electioneering at the board of education, while Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez denied the claim and asked the mayor to look at the company he keeps.
“Our opposition has engaged in the intimidation of untenured municipal workers and Board of Education employees forcing them to campaign and electioneer,” Roque wrote in a March 21st letter to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
” … I have been informed over 200 teachers were forced to request personal days on Election Day to work the polls, which resulted in the Superintendent closing the schools o Election Day.”
Roque reiterated his stance during a short press conference inside the mayor’s office this afternoon, claiming that at least 15 BOE employees had reached out to him in the past three weeks over the fact that they had been asked to campaign for his chief opposition, the New Beginnings West New York team.
He also exclaimed that this is the first time in history that West New York Public Schools have been closed for a municipal race.
“For the first, listen to me, this is the first time, in the history of the West New York school system that the schools will be closed on Election Day … Many of those untenured workers are in fear of reprisals and losing their jobs, others have been promised promotions,” the mayor said.
“I don’t want to put anyone in jail, that’s the last thing I want to do, but I want to make sure that they abide by the law the same way our campaign is abiding by the law.”
The state AG’s office confirmed that they received Roque’s letter, where he also asks for a formal meeting and for authorities to oversee the election, but said they could not comment further.
In response, Rodriguez, who works at the BOE and is heading the NBWNY slate, called the allegations “another ridiculous Roque lie” given that the BOE voted to have the district off on Election Day back in April 2018 and that this was not unusual.
He also welcomed the possibility of the AG overseeing the election, however, for a much different reason than Roque.
“I don’t know if you saw yesterday’s article in the New Jersey Globe: the mayor has chosen to surround himself by multiple convicted felons. Not only to surround himself with them, but has chosen them to run his campaign,” Rodriguez began.
“So I absolutely agree, for that reason, that the attorney general should be present for this municipal election because now, more than ever, we should be concerned what people do, but more so these multiple convicted felons.”
During his presser, Roque gave an answer as only he could when asked to react the the NJ Globe report that said former disgraced Bergen County Democratic Organization Chair Joe Ferreiro, was running his campaign – with Manny Diaz, Renee Abreu and former Commissioner Gerry Lange also providing support.
“The report, it was very well written. All I could say is I did research the character of Mr. – how do you say his last name? Mr. Ferriero, apparently he was a partner with Scarinci & Hollenbeck and apparently he’s a very gifted person, according to what I’ve been reading,” the mayor answered.
“He’s very talented, this is the kind of person, I’m gonna tell you, I would like to reach out to him. If he sees my video with you, please reach out to me: my cell phone is 201-679-0829 – I would love to work with a person like that.”
Roque is seeking a third term, on top of the “Forward with Roque” ticket in the midst of a field that includes 16 candidates in total.