In a stunning political maneuver that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the county, West New York Mayor Felix Roque endorsed wealthy business owner Larry Wainstein for North Bergen mayor on Saturday.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We must work harder this coming year to replace those who occupy Town Hall with men and woman commissioners concerned about the people first and not large corporations who seek tax abatements at the expense of the people of North Bergen,” Wainstein said in front of supporters during a brief speech at El Farolito Restaurant in West New York.
“We must elect commissioners who care about our young people and provide our students with the supplies and programs so that they are well prepared to advance their education. We must elect commissioners who will put a stop to corruption.”
He further stressed “putting people first before politics,” stopping short of declaring he would rematch North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, also the state Senator of the 32nd Legislative district, in May 2019.
Wainstein run a full slate against Sacco in 2015, and while he made the incumbents work, he was bested by over 3,000 votes (though he had scored more votes than the last handful of Sacco opponents combined).
Most North Hudson observers have considered it a foregone conclusion that Wainstein would again pit a ticket against the Sacco team next year, even though he is yet to formally declare his candidacy.
With that said, the big shocker is that Roque would come out and back him a year ahead of the race – where Roque will also be seeking a third term.
“I am seeing what is happening in North Bergen and I have to tell you the truth: I am not happy. The machine keeps going and going and the reality is that they are not doing what they should for the well being of the residents, but Larry is fighting for your well being,” Roque said in Spanish.
“That is why I am here representing West New York and the commissioners who are with me because we need to help this man because he is fighting with you. Larry: I am here with you.”
West New York spokesman Pablo Fonseca, also Roque’s campaign manager, explained that the mayor always supports his friends.
“Mayor Roque supports his friends and allies and Larry Wainstein has been a strong supports of Mayor Roque throughout the years. They both have common goals which are good government and people first,” Fonseca said.
Wainstein was happy to accept the endorsement when speaking with Hudson County View.
“A special thank you to my dear friend West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque for supporting my vision for a better North Bergen,” he said.
“We applaud Mayor Roque and the rest of the elected officials that are currently fighting to make sure that all the people are represented in our communities.
Roque is currently at odds with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), a former West New York mayor, and Sacco, whose Senate district includes West New York, over next year’s Hudson County executive race.
Sires and Sacco are backing incumbent Tom DeGise, while Roque is joining state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in an effort to oust him.
Sires has teamed up with several political allies, including three West New York commissioners, to begin fundraising for the Roque opposition slate – which is still undetermined – next month.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a statement from the Roque campaign.