Zanowic’s #Better Bayonne campaign has seen a lot of change in a short time, first with the naming of Chelsea Jeskie, an intern for the Department of Homeland Security, as his Second Ward candidate, to complete his ticket on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Then there was the departure of council candidates Washington Flores and John Sebik, Third Ward and at-large respectively, on Monday, Feb. 24.
In between, Zanowic’s campaign was rocked by a scandal involving his aide Peter Franco, who allegedly sent profane and racially charged texts and emails to a supporter of Mayor Mark Smith, according to published reports.
Zanowic is challenging Smith in his bid for another term as mayor on May 13. Daniel Herrera, First Ward, and Leonard Kantor, at large, remain on the ticket.
The departures of Flores and Sebik were linked to Franco’s messages to Demetrious Terry, both men confirmed. Zanowic fired Franco from the campaign.
“He had an ongoing text message and Facebook feud with that one person (Terry),” Zanowic said in an interview last week. “He said something he shouldn't have said, and I just let him go.”
Regarding the Flores and Sebik departures, Zanowic has said that while he was disappointed, he understood their making the choice they did.
“There were personal decisions they made,” he said. “I’ll take them at their word about what they said that was in the paper (about leaving the ticket),” that it was in regard to the Franco-Terry incident.
Zanowic said he made an effort to persuade the two candidates to stay, but that they were not amenable to the idea.
“We discussed it,” Zanowic said. “We gave each other the pros and cons about running on a full ticket versus running as independents.”
“They made a decision based on what was best for them,” he said. “So I respect that.”
Still will file
While the campaign has hit a major bump, Zanowic said all those still aboard are looking forward.
“Everyone still on the campaign is very positive,” he said. “The candidates themselves did nothing wrong. I made the decision that was necessary and took care of the problem that we did have.”
Zanowic said he and his slate are moving forward to complete the necessary paperwork to run for office, and that he did not think the two departures will greatly affect his campaign.
“Overall, no, by the time we file petitions. Everyone will make the ballot,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a full ticket.”
“We may be short one spot [at large],” Zanowic said. “A Third Ward [candidate] we’ll have. But I’m not ready to make an announcement yet. We’ll announce our Third Ward candidate by the filing date, possibly sooner.”
In the meantime, Zanowic said that his campaign is happy with the emphasis of youth on its ticket. Herrera and Jeskie are both in their 20s.
“We have a lot of young voters that are energized by this, and that’s going to be a big part of our campaign,” he said. “We look at it as positive, age wise and ethnically, and we feel we’ll do a good job.”
“I will fully stand with Mr. Zanowic on his campaign for mayor of Bayonne as his running mate for the First Ward,” Herrera said in a statement. “I cannot and will not abandon Mr. Zanowic. Our team is strong, the message is stronger, and we are confident that it will carry the day.”
Police Capt. James Davis is also opposing the mayor. Davis announced his ticket on Thursday, Feb. 27, officially launching his mayoral bid at his campaign headquarters on Broadway.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.