WEST NEW YORK – Commissioner Count Wiley announced two candidates for a potential recall election against Mayor Felix Roque at a fundraiser Saturday night. Rafael Sanchez, Jr. a pastor and owner of a local real estate group, and Doug Richards, a class action attorney at a New York law firm, were introduced at the fundraiser, which was held at Marinero Grill on the waterfront.
Wiley needs around 5,000 signatures from town residents to force a recall election against Roque, who he ran with in a failed recall against former Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega in 2010 and in a successful regular election in 2011. He broke step with Roque and his allies after Roque was indicted on federal hacking charges last May.
Over 200 people attended the fundraiser, according to Wiley. The commissioner praised both his candidates in a phone interview Monday morning.
“As far as Ralph’s character, he’s done a lot of good things for the people here, with both his civil service and as a pastor,” he said.
Wiley said that he hoped the addition of Richards, who lives on the Hudson riverfront, would bring the waterfront’s residents to his side.
“The unity of the waterfront and the rest of the town is something that would be really wonderful for West New York,” he said. “If people from the waterfront came up here more, and spent their money here instead of going out of town, that would be good for the community.”
Richards, 60, joins Wiley’s slate as a resident of the waterfront section of town, an indication of a campaign strategy by Wiley to secure the support of Waterfront residents, who are not usually as engaged in local politics as many commute into New York or are relatively new residents.
“I believe that my prior experience with diverse ethnic and economic communities will be valuable in working to bridge differences between the waterfront community and the rest of West New York,” said Richards in a press release provided by the Wiley campaign.
Richards, who is originally from Illinois, and his wife, Cathy, have lived in West New York for five years.
Meanwhile, Sanchez, 34, was born in Secaucus and grew up in West New York, where he graduated from Memorial High School. He currently serves as the CEO of the Hudson Development Group, located in West New York, and as the pastor of House of Worship Ministries, a non-denominational community church in town.
“I believe that a mayor or commissioner should serve well and lead by example as well as inspire all those around them to be professional, while having vision for the next steps of this great American town,” he said in the press release.
Wiley said that he estimated the political contributions from Saturday night’s party to be around $30,000. He said that he is now focusing on finalizing his ticket, and is seeking a female candidate. Dean DeChiaro