May is almost here and with it will come a showdown the Township of West New York is looking forward to. The incumbent Felix Roque has an arsenal and funds to make life miserable for his challenger, Count Wiley. The disdain has been brewing for years now and it will culminate on Election Day. With the addition of Gabriel Rodriguez and Cosmo Cirillo on his ticket, Roque is making it clear; the Hudson County Democrat Organization is showing their allegiance to him. These odds could be insurmountable for Wiley who is essentially going against the establishment, with little to no political help. Has it been done before? Sure, let’s look at 4 years ago. Roque and Wiley worked together to unseat what was considered to be unbeatable and that was Sal Vega, who had the firm backing of political powerhouses such as U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and the HCDO. Surprisingly, Roque and his entire ticket, including Wiley, pulled off the upset. Wiley is hoping to duplicate this feat. Is there enough anti-Roque sentiment throughout West New York to enable this? It’s too soon to tell, but Wiley certainly has his supporters who continue to work hard for him.
Surprisingly, a name that continues to surface as a possible 3rd party candidate is former Hudson County Freeholder Jose Munoz. Munoz was soundly defeated by Caridad Rodriguez and the HCDO in June 2014 during the primary and by all accounts, any political clout he once had all but disappeared with this loss. Hudson County TV learned Wiley had reached out to Munoz during the selection process, but Munoz respectfully declined the invite. This is a savvy political move by Munoz because this may be his last opportunity to remain politically relevant in West New York. Roque, along with Rodriguez and Cirillo, already are an imposing trio on their ticket, but speculation continues to run rampant on the remaining seats for the ticket. While Fior D`Aliza Frias has been a Roque loyalist, there is no guarantee she will be asked to run on the ticket again or if she even wants to. There is some doubt if she would be willing to run off the line for her seat as Commissioner, since support for her could limited based on support and funding.
One of the talking points consistently recited by Roque opponents, whether it is during town meetings and/or social media is the issue concerning municipal debt. Anonymous sources have told Hudson County TV the township’s debt has risen from approximately $37 million when Roque took office in 2011 to $47 million starting now in 2015. Roque has gone on the record by saying a large portion of this was allocated to rebuilding an fragile infrastructure and also reminding residents the purchase of new police cars and ambulances has added to this. Wiley insists there is still waste being overlooked in West New York and this has emboldened him to challenge Roque. In the coming weeks, fundraising for Wiley will be crucial, because political support as it stands, is firmly in the corner of the incumbent. Then again, a lot can happen between now and May.