Amid what she calls “skyrocketing” water bills and erratic billing practices, Bayonne Board of Education Trustee and City Council At-Large candidate Jodi Casais is criticizing Mayor James Davis for a recent statement regarding Suez Water.
Casais said that Davis asserted in a recent statement that he had not received financial support from Suez in the past, and did not plan on accepting any in the future. She alleges that documents from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Committee (NJ ELEC) prove otherwise.
The quote she is referring to is a statement that was sent to the Bayonne Community News and other news outlets by Davis in response to criticism by Casais over a recent mailer touting Suez’s new website. At one point, Davis said: “I’ve never received any political support from Suez before, and will never accept it in the future.”
Records from NJ ELEC show that Davis accepted a $1,000 donation from United Water Inc. NJ PAC in 2015 and a $2,500 donation from Suez Water Inc. NJ PAC in 2017. United Water Inc. was the immediate predecessor and is now a subsidiary to Suez. Casais provided screenshots of the documents with her press release, which BCN independently verified.
“We’ve heard nothing from Mayor Davis himself for the longest time, and as soon as he chooses to comment he lies to us,” said Casais. “Silence on an important issue is disrespectful, but not telling the truth about political contributions is low, even for this administration’s standards.”
She continued: “So, once again, the average Bayonne resident can’t get a straight answer from City Hall. Our bills are skyrocketing, our mayor lies about taking political contributions from special interests, and the confidence in our government is shattered. We need a change in leadership.”
Casais is running on a council slate with City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, who is running for mayor against Davis in the May 10 municipal election.
Davis campaign responds
In response, Mayor Davis said in a statement that he was not aware of the donations, which he said were solicited by former Special Redevelopment Counsel Joe DeMarco. In the past DeMarco has also served as Davis’ Campaign Manager and Business Administrator before taking on the Special Redevelopment Counsel role.
“I was completely unaware that Joe DeMarco, who is now supporting my opponent, solicited these contributions without my knowledge,” Davis said. “I want to make it clear that I never had any intent of receiving financial support from Suez, and therefore I will be contributing the money to a local charitable organization.”
Davis said that he fired DeMarco last year because of things like this.
“I fired DeMarco last year because I felt that I could not trust him to represent the city’s best interests, and this is another example of why that was the right decision,” Davis said.
It was previously reported at the time that DeMarco had submitted his resignation in October of 2021. And also at the time, Davis praised DeMarco in a statement: “Joe DeMarco, as our business administrator and as our special redevelopment counsel, has been an important part of the City of Bayonne’s tremendous growth over the past seven years. The fruits of his labor can be seen throughout the city. Joe has been an incredibly valuable contributor to Bayonne and I wish him only the greatest of success with his future endeavors.”
It was also reported at the time that tensions began to rise between the mayor and DeMarco after the latter took a private meeting with Ashe-Nadrowski in August of 2021.
The $3,500 in Suez contributions will be donated to The Windmill Alliance, a local 501c3 charity that helps developmentally disabled adults in the community, according to Davis.
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