Wiley welcomes two candidates to recall effort
Commissioner Count Wiley announced two candidates for a potential recall election against Mayor Felix Roque at a fundraiser last Saturday night. Rafael Sanchez, Jr. a pastor and owner of a local real estate group, and Doug Richards, a class action attorney at a New York law firm, were introduced at the fundraiser, which was held at Marinero Grill on the waterfront.
Wiley needs around 5,000 signatures from town residents to force a recall election against Roque. Wiley used to be Roque’s ally, and was elected with him in 2011. He broke with the mayor after Roque was indicted on federal hacking charges last May.
Over 200 people attended the fundraiser, according to Wiley. The commissioner praised both his candidates in a phone interview Monday morning.
“As far as Ralph’s character, he’s done a lot of good things for the people here, with both his civil service and as a pastor,” he said.
Wiley said that he hoped the addition of Richards, who lives on the Hudson riverfront, would bring the waterfront’s residents to his side.
“The unity of the waterfront and the rest of the town is something that would be really wonderful for West New York,” he said. “If people from the waterfront came up here more, and spent their money here instead of going out of town, that would be good for the community.”
Richards, 60, joins Wiley’s slate as a resident of the waterfront section of town, an indication of a campaign strategy by Wiley to secure the support of Waterfront residents, who are not usually as engaged in local politics as many commute into New York or are relatively new residents.
“I believe that my prior experience with diverse ethnic and economic communities will be valuable in working to bridge differences between the waterfront community and the rest of West New York,” said Richards in a press release provided by the Wiley campaign.
Richards, who is originally from Illinois, and his wife, Cathy, have lived in West New York for five years.
Meanwhile, Sanchez, 34, was born in Secaucus and grew up in West New York, where he graduated from Memorial High School. He currently serves as the CEO of the Hudson Development Group, located in West New York, and as the pastor of House of Worship Ministries, a non-denominational community church in town.
“I believe that a mayor or commissioner should serve well and lead by example as well as inspire all those around them to be professional,” he said in a press release, “while having vision for the next steps of this great American town.”
Wiley said that he estimated the political contributions from Saturday night’s party to be around $30,000. He said that he is now focusing on finalizing his ticket, and is seeking a female candidate.
Mario Blanch, homegrown lawyer, is West New York’s new assistant town attorney
Mario Blanch, Esq., a lawyer who owns a private practice in West New York and is often involved in North Hudson municipal politics, was hired on Monday as the town’s new assistant town attorney, and will work under Gilberto Garcia and the town’s Board of Commissioners.
The former assistant town attorney, Joe DeMarco, was promoted to the position of municipal administrator in November.
Blanch graduated from Seton Hall Law School in 2002 and worked as a clerk for the Honorable Marguerite Simon in the Superior Court of New Jersey, where he assisted the court with business litigation, estate matters, and intellectual property disputes.
He is originally from North Bergen and now lives in West New York. He has made a name for himself in municipal politics in recent years, especially in his hometown, where he has represented the Concerned Citizens of North Bergen and argued several wrongful termination suits against that city.
In a press release, Blanch said that he was looking forward to working with Mayor Felix Roque to improve outdated town ordinances and meeting directly with citizens in an effort to bring the public’s legal concerns to the town’s Board of Commissioners.
“I’ve known Dr. Roque for many years, and he’s always been a strong, honest force in the community as an activist,” Blanch said in the release. “I think the doctor’s ideology is similar to my own in that I’ve fought hard to create an open and honest government in North Bergen with my legal work, and the mayor is trying to do the same.”
St. Augustine School to hold scholarship fund dinner
The St. Augustine School in Union City will hold its inaugural scholarship fund dinner on Friday, March 8 at Antonia’s by the Park, located at 9011 Palisade Ave. in North Bergen. Union City Mayor Brian Stack, alumnus John Meditz, and retired Judge Marie Garibaldi will be in attendance. There will also be a silent auction. For reservations, write and send a check to St. Augustine School, 3920 New York Ave., Union City, NJ 07087. For more information, contact Sister Johanna at (201) 865-0072.
Local blood bank seeking volunteers to work drives
New Jersey Blood Services, a division of New York Blood Center, which supplies blood products and services to 60 hospitals throughout the state, is in need of volunteers at blood drives. The blood service volunteer is an integral member of the collection team whose task it is assist donors with registration, escorting and canteen duties, and to watch for post donation reactions. Volunteers should have the ability to relate to the public, be able to perform different jobs as needed and have the willingness to follow the rules. For additional information contact, Manager of Community Relations, R. Jan Zepka at (732) 616-8741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anti-drug group seeking commercial ideas from middle schoolers
Calling all future movie writers and producers! The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is calling on New Jersey middle school students to write, star in and produce a television commercial with a substance abuse prevention message for their peers by entering the 14th Annual Middle School Public Service Announcement Challenge (MSPSA).
Students in the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade are invited to create a 30-second television Public Service Announcement (PSA) script designed to get a substance abuse prevention message out to their peers.
“The students who submit the winning script not only write the 30-second PSA, but produce, edit, and star in the spot that is often filmed at their school,” said media director Angela Conover. Each school can enter multiple teams, but each team may only submit one PSA.
All submissions must be received by Friday, April 19, 2013.
For additional information contact (973) 467-2100, ext. 11, or visit: DrugFreeNJ.org.