Faced with the prospect that West New York Mayor Felix Roque might emerge unscathed from his legal woes, his opponents appear to be getting together to build a coalition that would drive him out of the mayor’s seat via a recall election—which ironically is how Roque was boosted toward the mayoralty in the first place.
Commissioner Count Wiley, at the head of the candidate pack, officially launched the recall on Thursday, starting a series of events that he hopes will culminate in an election in September.
Well-organized and apparently raising significant money for what will likely be a tooth and nail fight, Wiley has been quietly meeting with other anti-Roque people, among them former Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega, the man Roque toppled in their May 2011 election.
A one-time powerful political force in WNY and the county, Vega lost to Roque in 2011 partly as a result of a number of serious political blunders—somehow crossing Rep. Albio Sires at the same time as raising taxes significantly in WNY. Vega also alienated Union City Mayor Brian Stack by opposing Stack in an election that eventually made Stack a state senator. Some of the rhetoric against Stack coming out of the Vega campaign was so vile it made Stack a permanent enemy. Roque benefitted from the rage against Vega, and though Sires never officially came out in support of Roque, he and Stack apparently worked behind the scenes to help Roque win. Roque became visible during an attempted recall effort against Vega, and then won against him in a regular election.
Since that time, Roque has alienated Sires, but appears to still have support from Stack, which makes him a tough candidate in any recall if Roque can get past his current legal troubles – which he may well do. Roque has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with conspiracy for allegedly hacking into an internet site run by some of his adversaries. He recently hired a new attorney with expertise in internet law and filed a motion for dismissal with the court, which may get him off the hook. This may well be the reason why the court agreed to delay the mayor’s day in court again.
Hoboken is still a mess politically
But Roque remains a side show to the events transpiring elsewhere in Hudson County, especially in Jersey City and in Hoboken, where politics is a way of life.
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos’s masterful moves at getting two of his allies to run for Assembly on the Stack ticket would normally have positioned him well in his run for mayor of Hoboken against Dawn Zimmer, except that Frank Raia and Councilwoman Beth Mason may well turn against Ramos and side with Zimmer against him, after both believed they were going to be offered the Assembly slots with Stack.
Mason has already made peace overtures to Zimmer, and it is likely that there will be more. If so, Ramos may be seeing the end of his political career. Some of his close allies, however, are already rubbing their hands together in the belief that they will soon be handed jobs in the city government. Some political jobs, such as freeholder, apparently are being offered to Ramos supporters. This may be why current Freeholder Anthony Romano is being pushed to run for mayor, so as to alienate him from Zimmer.
Last week, the county Democratic committee seats became a battleground in Hoboken when there was a fear that by making Zimmer honorary chair of the local party, she might endorse Republican Gov. Christopher Christie – making it appear as if the Hoboken Democrats were endorsing a Republican. County Democrats, however, say Zimmer has assured them this will not happen.
However, Stack, who is running for reelection to the state Senate as a Democrat, is expected to support Christie. No surprise there. Christie has sent a lot of money into Union City to help Stack.
JC candidate forum to be posted on-line shortly
The Hudson Reporter held its candidates forum last week for the four mayoral hopefuls in Jersey City, a civil debate that will soon be up on the website. Viewers will have to judge for themselves who did best among the four, although they all did surprisingly well, each getting their points across, as well as answering a few surprise questions.
Some political observers say the race for mayor is largely between Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Councilman Steven Fulop and is too close to call. The real poll, however, will come on May 14 when voters cast their votes.
But some believe Healy’s endorsements will give him a boost. He has been endorsed so far by the president of the United States, the mayor of New York City and the mayor of Boston – none of whom can vote in Jersey City.