While Munoz did not win a seat on the commission, his surprisingly strong vote did lead him to believe his message was valid.
Failing to unseat Sires as mayor, Munoz is challenging Sires for his Assembly seat in November - as a Republican.
"The mayor has too many responsibilities," Munoz said during an interview last week. "He can't be in West New York and in Trenton at the same time."
For the 24-year old Munoz, this is a lifelong dream.
"I've always wanted to get into politics," he said. "But not to be controlled by anyone. I want to serve the people."
Born in Trinidad, Cuba in 1979, Munoz came to the United States in 1994. He is a graduate of Emerson High School in Union City, and attended briefly the University of Northumbria upon the Tyne in the United Kingdom. But he received his two degrees (in political science and criminal justice) from Kean University in Newark. He said he would like to pursue a law degree as well.
Although the 2003 municipal election against Sires was Munoz's first, he said he is quite serious about winning the Assembly seat in November, and sees himself as a legitimate candidate with a significant background in community involvement. Indeed, in college, he won awards for his involvement in programs such as the Adelante, a program to help Hispanic and minority students compete in high education, and the Juvenile Intensive Supervision program, designed to help reform delinquent children.
If elected, public education reform will be one of his top priorities, he said. His list, however, doesn't stop there. He believes taxes should be capped and politics reformed as well.
Munoz said he feels the strong backing of the Republican Party will help propel him to upset Sires or Stack, noting how, with the little money had used for the municipal election, he had garnered 40 percent of the vote in a non-partisan election. West New York, with its sizable and active Republican base, could help him significantly. But Munoz said the recent spate of convictions among Hudson County politicians might help him even more.
"We need good, honest public servants who can respond to the people and who are not elected by party bosses," he said.
Along with tax and political reform, Munoz said he will seek additional affordable housing if he is elected to the Assembly, yet is not willing to give in to overdevelopment. Housing, he said, must be generated from the needs of his constituents, not the need of developers or politically-connected consultants.
Munoz is part of a Republican ticket that features Assemblyman Rafael Fraguela for state Senate and Elise DiNardo for state Assembly. They have an uphill battle in running against incumbent Democratic state Sen. Bernard Kenny, Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
Munoz said he is particularly pleased to be running with Fraguela at the head of the ticket in the 33rd District, partly because Fraguela has a record of accomplishment in the state Assembly, and because Fraguela stood up to the Democrats and refused to be bossed around.
"I know the kind of work he has done within the Spanish community," Munoz said. "I know he has done a lot to help the people who elected him. I would like to do that same thing."
Although rumors are always circulating about future indictments of elected officials in Hudson County, Munoz said, "We cannot depend on the FBI to win this election for us. We must win it ourselves by convincing the people that we are the better choice."
Munoz also said that he is not running to represent Spanish-speaking people only, and said that whomever is elected must represent the entire community.
Surprisingly, Munoz refuses to run a campaign that bashes Rep. Bob Menendez. "I know the congressman is backing the other side," Munoz said. "But I also know that he has done a good job in representing the people in his district. He has even stood up to a Democratic governor over issues."
Munoz even has a kind word for one of his opponents in this Assembly race.
"I worked the campaign for Brian Stack when I first got into politics," he said. "I think he cared about the people of Union City. But like other people who have too many political jobs, he can't do all of them well. If he is going to be mayor, he should not try to be an assemblyman or a freeholder. He should be mayor. He has allowed his political ambition to get in the way of doing a good job as mayor."