West New York Mayor Felix Roque is seeking a third term, while Gabriel Rodriguez, a former running mate, looks to unseat him. Their epic feud will likely end after Tuesday’s municipal elections, which features 16 candidates running for five commissioner seats.
Roque has been throwing punches in bunches this election cycle, which was expected ever since U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) said last year that he planned on ousting him.
In April, Roque called on New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to look into electioneering allegations at the board of education, claiming non-tenured employees were being forced to help Rodriguez and his New Beginnings West New York slate.
Rodriguez essentially said that was nonsense and targeted Roque for people surrounding his campaign that had criminal convictions, specifically Manny Diaz, Ruben Vargas, Renee Abreu and disgraced former Bergen County Dem Chair Joe Ferriero.
For what it’s worth, Roque said on camera twice that Ferriero isn’t part of his campaign, though made it clear he wouldn’t be opposed to working with him.
Just this past week, the mayor said a political supporter was targeted by police at Rodriguez’s direction and he called the arrest, which was caught on video, “disturbing.”
Rodriguez responded that he found out about the incident on social media and police responded to the scene after a noise complaint was made. He was also critical of Roque rushing to judgement of the three officers involved.
Furthermore, strongly recommend checking out the coverage of any the board of commissioners meetings from this year to get a better feel for what this race has felt like:
In the arena
While the Rodriguez and Roque slates are clearly the main event attraction that West New Yorkers have been waiting for, there are still six other candidates on the ballot.
31-year-old attorney Adil Ahmed is running as a progressive Democrat and has said supported ideas such as dissolving the parking authority and instituting a municipal ID program.
Ron Scheurle, a board of education trustee who runs a funeral home, is the only Republican in the race whose slogan is “Make Our Town Great Again.”
The “Take Back our Town” quartet of Anthony Valdes, Armando Galis-Menendez, Manual Andujar, Jr. and Claudio Calderon have spoken of getting rid of wasteful spending and removing the politics from Town Hall, though it’s hard to believe any of them will be competitive with just $585 in their ELEC account as of April 15th.
While it seems unlikely that anyone reading this is unsure, for the sake of clarity, Roque is running with Department of Public Works Commissioner Susan Colacurcio, Board of Education Trustee Maite Fernandez, Richie Acosta and Ana Luna.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez is on the ballot with Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Margarita Guzman, as well as Victor Barrera and Yoleisy Yanez.
Sires, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (both D-32) and Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez (D-7, no relation to Gabriel) are all backing the New Beginnings slate, as are the Communication Workers of America.
Roque says he has the backing of the local Policemen’s Benevolent Association. PBA President Tommy Mannion gave a strong speech in support of the mayor at his last fundraiser.
Sires filmed a commercial for Univision vocalizing support for the Rodriguez ticket, while Caridad Rodriguez was featured in a Facebook video denouncing Roque – who she ran with back in 2011.
The Roque camp believes the CWA endorsement was a hollow one since it came from Trenton as opposed to West New York (Rodriguez of course disagreed when asked about it live).
In a Facebook post, the mayor’s team praised Colacurcio for her “great management of DPW” and expressed that Rodriguez “did nothing” when he had that department.
Finally, Bayonne political operative Pat Desmond says that Roque owes him $10,125 as part of an agreement they had in place for election canvassing.
Sources close to Roque say that Desmond isn’t owed anything since he didn’t meet the parameters of the agreement and that he should give back the $7,500 retainer since he “didn’t deliver.”
Sounds like this one is destined for a court date one way or another, click here if you’re interested in hearing Desmond’s perspective.