A Union City landlord who recently had an ethics complaint against Mayor Brian Stack, also the state Senator of the 33rd Legislative District, plans on pursuing legal action against him and the city after what she describes as a tumultuous 2022.
“We’re definitely getting special attention from the city: they are calling and there are summonses, [issuing] violations were there were no violations, and just as recently as [last week] we noticed there are individuals from the city coming into the building and looking around,” AVGS Holdings COO Victorina Salvador told HCV.
“Because of their constant political advertisement … since the company purchased the property, they’ve left stacks and stacks of pamphlets that created garbage and then the city code official would come around and say I have to clean up the building.”
Salvador said she first reached out to Stack in February, shortly after her company – which she runs with her husband – purchased a property on 24th Street.
At the time, she sent an email claiming that Health Director Alex Velazquez and her had a tense exchange that she considered unprofessional, and when Stack called her back, he yelled, cursed, and talked down to her before abruptly hanging up the phone.
As a result of this, she filed a complaint with New Jersey Senate’s Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards on March 15th, though the committee did not hear the complaint until about three weeks ago.
From Salvador’s perspective, tensions continued to rise after AVGS Holdings asked Stack, as well as his civic association and Union City First, to stop delivering political mailers to their property – culminating in a cease and desist letter sent on May 10th.
“While we full well understand both your desire for success in your election and the political realities of the world in which we are also mindful that you most certainly do not want to usurp and defy the laws you have sworn to defend and uphold,” the letter from attorney Lawrence M. Centanni said.
“Therefore, please refrain from both the trespass upon my client’s property and the littering of same with political material as aforesaid.”
Salvador noted that every time she receives a citation or summons, counsel must be utilized. She estimates that she’s already spent “a couple of thousand dollars” and expects that figure to double if the situation isn’t rectified soon.
Salvador said neither her company or attorney ever received a response to the letter.
As for the ethics complaint, which was heard on November 15th, the eight-member bipartisan committee ultimately dismissed the complaint since they did not have jurisdiction: noting that Salvador’s allegations are related to Stack’s actions as mayor, not a state senator.
“If the ethics committee cannot involve themselves with, or stop, somehow sanction Brian Stack and how he purports himself, how he behaves himself, then who can?”, Salvador questioned.
She continued that she plans to continue pursuing recourse in the matter, stating that she is being harassed and that Stack has shown a pattern of behavior or talking down and/or berating women, referencing a recent conversation broadcast on police radio and published by HudPost.
“It should come to no shock to anyone that this is how he really feels about certain populations and it’s difficult for someone, such as myself, to work in Union City with someone like that.”
City officials declined to comment, citing the pending municipal court matters against Salvador, which allege that she ran an illegal Airbnb out of the property, as well as that a building superintendent has not been present at the property since their purchase.
Both of those situations, if proven in court, would be a violation of municipal code.
The matter has been moved to Hoboken Municipal Court and is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday as of this writing.
Ralph Lamparello, a managing partner at Chasan Lamparello Mallon & Cappuzzo, PC who represented Stack in the ethics complaint, noted that Salvador’s property only got on the city’s radar after tenants complained of no heat.
“Mrs. Salvador, along with her husband, purchased this holiday through a holding company with her husband in February. Almost immediately tenants complained that they had no heat,” he said this afternoon.
“These are their homes and just because they don’t own the property, that doesn’t mean they aren’t afforded basic rights. Union City will continue to protect the rights of tenants and will not permit violations of municipal ordinances. No matter what the owner of the property threatens.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Ralph Lamparello, counsel to state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack in the ethics complaint case.