One is the catalyst behind an elected school board drive. A second is a former candidate for Hudson County Sheriff. A third began the race on a slate, but is now running as an independent. Another is the ward’s former representative seeking to regain his post. And the last is the current councilman the other four are looking to unseat.
They are the five candidates competing to be Third Ward councilman, and the race could end in a runoff:
Michael Alonso, 31, considers himself the only real independent running in the Third Ward council race. (Washington Flores, another independent, started the campaign on the mayoral ticket of Anthony Zanowic.)
“I’m the only true independent out of everyone that’s running,” he said. “I’m the only one who’s running by myself.”
Alonso says this is important because he believes there should be some distance between the city’s chief executive and city council members.
“The mayor and council are supposed to be separate,” he said. “Everyone who’s running is all about the team. They’re supposed to be a check and balance of each other. We don’t have that right now.”
Alonso promises to “stand for the people and have an open-door policy” if elected. But he doesn’t stop there.
“I will never vote to raise taxes, I’ll vote for an elected school board, and I’ll vote for development at the base that helps the residents,” he said.
Alonso, the grandson of a well-known Bayonne physician, wants to help the commerce of the town, which he thinks is stagnant.
“Bayonne is right at a standstill. It’s not going well anywhere. I don’t think we’re really moving, and it's time to get Bayonne moving.”
He’d like to alter the public’s perception of Bayonne.
“One thing I would change is the conception other people have of us,” Alonso said. “I would like to make Bayonne the place that you’d want to move your family to. Let people know that there are job opportunities. Bayonne has a lot of benefits that we don’t highlight to the rest of the world; the proximity to New York, the proximity to the ferries.”
He also wants the town to better manage its assets like the remaining city-owned land at the former Military Ocean Terminal.
“When I go door to door, that’s what people still talk about,” he said of what he believes was a sour deal, the sale of much of it to the Port Authority. “They’re saying we should have done better. It’s a missed opportunity.”
A lifelong Third Ward resident, Alonso was educated at St. Vincent’s Grammar School, Marist High School, Seton Hall and New Jersey City universities.
A civic activist and education advocate, he continues to lead the elected school board effort in the city.
A Bayonne real estate professional for more than 10 years, he also has owned and operated an event planning company that conducts conferences and presentations for individuals and corporations. His clients have included Federal Express, Procter & Gamble, and Teterboro Airport.
In 2005, Alonso was named one of the "Businessmen of the Year" by the Washington-based National Small Business Association in honor of his entrepreneurship and advocacy for the role that small business plays in the U.S. economy.
Anthony Di Iorio
Anthony Di Iorio thinks he should be Third Ward councilman because he brings a positive attitude to the campaign and the city.
“I offer the residents of the Third Ward a positive city,” he said. “I want to ensure we prosper, that we become the absolute gem of New Jersey. We have the potential to be the best city.”
A graphic designer by trade, Di Iorio ran for county sheriff last year. Though he didn’t win, he remains undaunted.
“I have a passion for political activities to effect change and preserve our civil rights,” he said.
“I want to bring that passion to Bayonne City Hall and serve the people of Bayonne.”
Di Iorio has a full agenda of what he’d do in office for the next four years.
“I plan on bringing a year-round soccer field for our residents to use,” he said. “I plan to contract our teachers, work to eliminate litter, improve our schools, and overall make Bayonne a better Bayonne.”
He also wants to rehabilitate the city’s main shopping district.
“Broadway is turning into an avenue of closed stores and empty lots,” Di Iorio said. “If we do not do something about our local economy, Broadway will just be a fond memory, something we were once proud of.”
Why should you vote for Di Iorio over his four Third Ward opponents?
“I am an average Bayonne resident who only wants the best for our city,” he said. “I have the heart of the people in mind and will work around the clock for our residents.”
Di Iorio sees himself, and the whole #Better Bayonne ticket, as an alternative to what he calls the typical “Hudson County politician.”
“I'm running with Anthony Zanowic because he is the right choice for Bayonne,” he said. “We meet with residents every day and engage in Facebook conversations. We make ourselves heard, and we are confident that our positive message will lead us to victory on election night.”
“I will truly represent the people,” Flores said. “I will be the councilman who the people will be sick and tired of seeing. I will already have knocked on their door many times.”
Formerly a member of Anthony Zanowic’s #Better Bayonne ticket, Flores left that slate earlier this year and decided to run as an independent.
Litter, pollution, and a lack of development are his major concerns.
“I feel in my ward in part we haven’t redeveloped property in over 10 years,” Flores said. “There’s been development on 440, on the outskirts of the city, but there hasn’t been any real development in the Third Ward.”
He said the ward’s problems are especially obvious to visitors coming off the New Jersey Turnpike exit.
“The first thing they see is an empty Exxon gas station,” Flores said. “If you come down Avenue E, there are three empty lots; one has a fence that’s falling down. There are others on Broadway, and another on Kennedy Boulevard. They are eyesores.”
“While the rest of the city is getting redeveloped, our ward has been left to fend for itself essentially,” he said.
Quality-of-life issues are what concern him most, and he has taken walking tours through his ward to enumerate them.
“There’s litter all over the place,” he said, “and roads are unpaved along avenues B, C, and E. These are the first things I’m going to tackle.”
Pollution is another problem he would tackle.
“The traffic going out of Bayonne in the morning backs up down to 40th Street,” Flores said. “I would work with the Turnpike Authority on this issue.”
Taxpayers should be “getting more bang for their buck.”
“I just think that I have the necessary skills to represent my ward,” he said. “From the business community, where I have been a manager of people for over 12 years, I know how to work with people. I know how to lead a team. And be a part of a team.”
If elected, he pledges to question every agenda item that comes before the city council.
Flores, 33, attended Marist High School, and Saint Peter’s College. He is married and has four young daughters. He is a product manager for Ill-Eagle Enterprises in Little Falls.
Flores is actively involved with Bayonne Little League, where he serves as president of the softball program. He is also the manager of two teams in the spring and manages the girls’ softball all-star team in the summer.
Ray Greaves joined the council during the worst national recession in decades and wants to be around to see some of the initiatives he helped plant now bear fruit.
“I got involved in this in the worst time,” he said, with the city near bankruptcy. “We’ve made
accomplishments. And now I want to build upon them.”
“We cut overall debt, we increased our Moody’s rating, we’re attracting more revenue, more businesses,” Greaves said. “We're also stabilizing taxes. There was no tax increase this year.”
“Bayonne's booming; developers are interested in building here,” he said. “There are projects all over town: Harbor Station North, Harbor Station South, the Baker Hi-Hat development, the Cali project on 44th Street. They’re all building, and all in the Third Ward.”
As an officer of a state labor union representing thousands of people, Greaves believes he can continue to help Bayonne residents because of his background and the people he knows.
“I have the skills, I have the contacts, I have the know-how to reach out to get things done,” he said. “My experience and leadership skills. My experience in negotiations. My experience in legislative involvement” are all helpful.
Through his involvement in his civic association, established in 2010, he has helped young children with life skills, and building self respect.
“The biggest reason for four more years is my commitment to people,” Greaves said. “Where there was the Country Village devastation after Hurricane Sandy, I was there day in, day out. I helped those people get back to some sort of normalcy.”
He also tackled the issue of helicopter noise in response to his constituents’ requests.
“I’m here seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” he said.
When the area of West 58th street had problems with litter and loitering, those issues were addressed too.
“My commitment to Bayonne is there. I don’t turn a blind eye to anything that affects our community,” Greaves said. “The most important thing for any community is to grow and prosper.”
Gary La Pelusa
For Gary La Pelusa, owner of a landscaping business in town and the city’s Third Ward councilman from 2006 to 2010, it’s about giving back to the community.
He represents his neighborhood as a committeeman and raises funds through his civic association.
“It’s real important to serve the community,” he said. “There are changes I want to make, and there’s no better way to do it than at the ground level.”
He’s against many of the current administration’s initiatives, opposing the city’s sale of
prime MOTBY land to a governmental agency.
“They sold 230 acres to the Port Authority, which pays no taxes, he said. “It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. You have to be a magician to follow what his current administration is doing. Four years ago they had to sell to the Port Authority and now they have 75 interested parties?”
As a member of the James Davis for Mayor ticket, he thinks he and his running mates can make a difference and that his experience with his own company will help him in a return to city hall.
“I have a background in business. We’re celebrating our 25th year in business,” La Pelusa said.
“Being self-employed I’m able to take care of my family and scrutinize my work to live within my means, which the city isn’t doing right now. I know how to run the city like a city that would be fiscally responsible.”
“I think the average person would want to vote for me because I’m the only one who’s proven to put the administration's feet to the fire,” La Pelusa said. “I've spoken out and taken the administration to task. I speak for the community. And most of the people in Bayonne.”
He said he never considered running on a ticket before, but when he met Davis, all that changed.
“As I got to hear him more, it was almost an echo of what I was for the city,” he said. “I really believe in the same things.He’s a lot like me; he’s a family man, and wants good things for the community.”
La Pelusa wants to make the city more attractive at the points where visitors enter.
“What I would do is make the entrances in and out of Bayonne more beautiful,” he said. His years of landscaping experience could help with that vision.
La Pelusa is a graduate of Washington Community School, Marist High School, and Seton Hall University.
In 2004, he was elected a Democratic Committeeman for the Third Ward, and has been re-elected every year since.
La Pelusa is a Fourth Degree member of the Star of the Sea Knights of Columbus in Bayonne, and is a lifelong parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish. He is a lector and former teacher in the Religious Education Program.
La Pelusa is the president of the Sons of Italy of Bayonne.
He formerly served on the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, the Planning Board, and the boards of All Saints Catholic Academy, and the Bayonne Medical Center.