"I am sickened and disgusted by the type of campaign going on in the 33rd District," said Sires last week. "We should be talking about the issues that are important to the people of this district."
Stack has been the target of several negative mailers and press conferences by his opponent for the state Senate seat, Mayor Silverio "Sal" Vega, who, like Stack, is currently an assemblyman and mayor.
While Vega is running with the longstanding Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), Stack has formed a new group called the Democrats for Hudson County (DFHC).
Letting the mud fly!
Stack and Vega both decided earlier this year to run for the state Senate seat vacated by state Sen. Bernard Kenny, who lives in Hoboken. The seat represents the 33rd District, including Hoboken, West New York, Union City, Weehawken, and Guttenberg.
Vega's campaign team has take the opportunity to point out that there are various ongoing government investigations of Stack, including a federal probe into state funds received by a Union City daycare center run by Stack's estranged wife, Katia. However, that probe is part of a probe going on into all state legislators (including the outgoing Kenny) to see if they have benefited personally by using funds for projects run by family members.
Stack has said that he and his wife are separated, and that the funds went to the places for which they were clearly earmarked.
But Vega has pointed out other problems with Stack's campaign.
The week before last, he held a press conference to play two tape recordings of what he said was Stack and Freddy Gomez, a Stack supporter, allegedly pressuring local Union City candidates running for committee offices on Vega's ticket to withdraw their candidacy.
Stack claimed the tapes were edited and that the full originals would clearly show that all he did was try to help out constituents.
Gomez has since been suspended from his county position at the Board of Elections, and the tapes have been turned over to the state Attorney General's Office and the FBI.
Since his official announcement in January, Stack has been continuously mailing out literature to the constituents of 33rd District about his promise to work for the people. The flyers highlight his record, in particular his accomplishments in Union City such as building new schools and public safety.
In recent weeks, members of the HCDO called into question Stack's statements, when it was recently noted that one of the new schools to be built in Union City was postponed due to lack of funding from the Schools Construction Corporation (SCC).
While this is the case for several schools throughout the state, the opposition noted that the delayed school project in Union City is also the controversial site of 1501 Palisade Ave., which is still at the center of pending legal action brought by the SCC.
The lot, which was meant for new Christopher Columbus School, was purchased at an inflated price after the owner received variances from the Union City Zoning Board to construct an apartment building on the once empty lot, even though the SCC had already expressed interest in it.
The SCC has taken legal action against the board and the city to retrieve some of the money, but stressed that it had nothing to do with their decision to postpone the project.
In addition, the HCDO also released tapes of recorded conversations of Stack and Freddy Gomez, a Stack supporter, allegedly pressuring local Union City candidates running for committee offices on the opposing ticket to withdraw their candidacy.
Stack claimed the tapes were edited and that the full originals would clearly show no wrongdoing. Gomez, who did not return calls to the Reporter, has since been suspended from his position at the Board of Elections, and the tapes have been turned over to the Attorney General's Office.
Staying focused on the issues
According to Sires, the HCDO hasn't touched upon the issues once throughout the entire campaign, and are utilizing these smear tactics because they have no record of accomplishments for constituents.
"Therefore their tactic is to run a smear campaign against a man who is a product of this district," said Sires. "[Brian Stack] has a proven record of service to his community and to the people. I am honored to endorse Brian Stack and I am honored to endorse this ticket."
Taking the podium next was Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. Turner spoke of Stack's 26 years in politics and stated that until this election, many of his current opponents never said anything negative about Stack.
"He has never done anything, but work for his constituents," said Turner, who also highlighted several of Stack's accomplishments such as the construction of new parks and new schools, the stabilization of taxes, to his numerous town cultural events and festivals, and assisting people with immigration matters or rent help.
"These are the things that make people realize that Brian Stack is here for them," said Turner. "If we don't have a senator that will work for us, then our residents will suffer."
Stack also came up to say a few words on his own behalf.
And then Turner assured all those present that they would no longer respond to the negative campaigning; they would only focus on the issues.
"Throughout this campaign we have tried very hard to [remain] on the issues," said Stack. "We have talked about education, open space, and in Union City we have not only talked about it - we've done it. This is about working together even after the election, working together for the common good."
Promise to constituents
Stack said if he is elected to the Senate he plans to tackle the issue of affordable housing and continued funding for school construction for the 33rd District.
"It saddens my heart that [these issues] are not talked about," said Stack. "I'm running against the machine. I feel sorry for [my opponent]; he is only a puppet for the machine."
"We are staying focused. That is what we are doing here today," he added. "[People] want to see results. I eat, sleep and drink politics. I will be a full-time mayor and senator, the way I have been a full-time mayor and assemblyman." Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com