Council candidates have also called for public debates with their opponents.
Mayor Mark Smith is seeking his second full term in the May 13 election. He is being opposed by Police Capt. James Davis and bowling alley manager Anthony Zanowic.
Smith and Davis have full slates in place. Zanowic, after two people departed from his campaign and one replacement, is short one at-large candidate (out of two).
The Zanowic slate named a new Third Ward candidate, Anthony Di Iorio, who ran for Hudson County Sheriff last year. In late February, the campaign fired a top aide after he had a texting feud with a supporter of the Smith ticket and allegedly made racially charged statements. Two council candidates, Washington Flores and John Milan Sebik, left the Zanowic ticket at that time.
Campaigns file paperwork
The mayor and his full slate visited City Clerk Robert Sloan on March 7 and submitted in excess of 3,600 petitions, more than three times the required number.
Smith’s council running mates are Agnes Gillespie, First Ward; Joseph Hurley, Second Ward; Ray Greaves, Third Ward; and Terrence Ruane and Debra Czerwienski, at-large. Smith and his entire team were elected in 2010 and are seeking re-election.
“Since taking office, my team and I have fought every day to keep Bayonne moving forward,” said Smith. “We’ve reduced our city debt by over 40 percent, attracted new development, created jobs, and are working to get property taxes under control.”
On Monday morning, March 10, the deadline for petitions, the Zanowic campaign submitted its paperwork. Zanowic’s council ticket consists of Daniel Herrera, First Ward; Chelsea Jeskie, Second Ward; Di Iorio, Third Ward; and Leonard Kantor, at large. One at large slot was not filled.
“We are happy to announce that the #BetterBayonne team has filed their petitions to get on the ballot for the 2014 municipal election,” Zanowic said in an email. “We look forward to a great campaign and a victory come election day.”
In the afternoon on March 10, the Davis slate followed suit. Davis’s council ticket is composed of Thomas Cotter, First Ward; Sal Gullace, Second Ward; Gary LePelusa, Third Ward; and Juan Perez and Sharon Nadrowski, at large.
“We’ve had a great turnout of voters signing our petitions,” Davis said in a statement. “I’ve put together a team of community minded individuals with years of experience in the public sector. We are excited about changing the direction in Bayonne.”
Other candidates that were expected to file by the deadline included Richard McCarthy and John Dolan, First Ward; Michael Alonso and Flores, Third Ward; and Sebik, at large.
The mayor released his first television ad of the campaign, running on local cable channels. It’s called “Five Years,” and in it the mayor listed among his achievements “streamlining local government” and “getting finances back in order.”
Smith’s ad was immediately criticized by Zanowic.
“The ad is full of misleading rhetoric and lies about his administration during those five years,” he said.
Zanowic referenced his own YouTube-posted ad, “It’s Time for Mark to Go,” as a rebuttal to the mayor’s ad.
Smith last week garnered the endorsement of the New Jersey Laborers Union, which cited what it said was the mayor’s record of stabilizing finances, strengthening government services, and supporting middle class and working families.
It is unlikely that the teachers’ union would endorse Smith, due to the four-year-long contract dispute with the board of education.
On March 6, Zanowic said he had sent the state election board a request to investigate the Davis campaign for failing to submit required reports.
“The Zanowic campaign has filed a formal complaint with the state of New Jersey’s ELEC department in regard to the Davis campaign’s [alleged] failure to file expenditure reports in reference to ELEC laws and regulations,” he said. “ … Every campaign is bound to the rules and regulations of the state … Mr. Davis claims to run on transparency, but fails to act on it.”
Calls for council debates
Former Zanowic ticket member and now at large independent candidate Sebik issued a news release over the weekend challenging his council opponents to an open public debate.
“I challenge Council President [Terrence] Ruane and his running mate [Debra Czerwienski] to stop hiding from the people, and try to publicly defend their lackluster record,” Sebik said. “I urge all candidates for the at-large seats to join me in having a free and open public discussion of the issues—at a forum in front of the people of Bayonne, for the express benefit of the people of Bayonne."
Herrera, of the Zanowic campaign, issued a similar challenge to his First Ward opponents, Gillespie of the Smith ticket, and Cotter of Davis’s slate, in a letter he said he sent to them on March 9.
In a related development, the Hudson Reporter newspaper group announced that a mayoral debate was scheduled for March 27 in the company’s office in Hoboken. While the public cannot attend the debate, it will be taped and posted on the hudsonreporter.com website within a week after the event, and will remain online until after the election.
The Davis campaign had scheduled a fundraiser at the Villa Maria, the site of a previous one on his behalf.
Zanowic said he also anticipated having at least two more fundraisers within the next few weeks.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.