Sires versus Roque for WNY mayor in 2023?

Both former West New York mayors are strongly considering a run

Roque (left with blue tie) and Sires (right with red tie) may both run to be mayor of West New York again in 2023. File photo.

Outgoing Rep. Albio Sires, a Democrat representing the 8th Congressional District of New Jersey which encompasses Hudson County, is planning to run for mayor of West New York in 2023.

Meanwhile, Dr. Felix Roque is also consaidering a run for mayor as well. This may mean the two former mayors of the town are set for a collision course in the upcoming municipal election.

- Advertisement -

Sires looks forward to a homecoming

In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, Sires said he seeks to tie up some loose ends in the town. The 71-year-old was mayor  until he took office in Congress in 2006.

“There’s some unfinished business that I left when I left for Congress,” Sires said. “I am looking forward to working on those again, like a new library for the town of West New York, an overpass to the waterfront so that people can get across River Road safely. And the third project would be to make a park off a pier in West New York.”

Sires said he has been working behind the scenes with the current administration under Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez on several projects in town.

“I’ve been working with the administration to get those things started,” Sires said. “Since the mayor decided to run for the assembly, I’m going to run from there so I can get some of those projects done.”

According to Sires, he made sure there was money in the federal budget for the ongoing projects.

“I put some money aside for some of the projects,” Sires said. “I’m on the Budget Committee so I made sure some money got to West New York.”

Frustrated with gridlock in the House of Representatives, Sires is looking to get back to a job where he can actually affect change.

“The best job I ever had was being mayor because you could get things done,” Sires said. “I’ve been in Congress 16 years and it took 16 years to pass an infrastructure bill that is one of the best infrastructure bills that we ever passed. But it took 16 years. The infrastructure has been falling apart and nobody did anything about it. It’s very difficult to get anything done here and I like to do things.”

Rodriguez is planning to run for the new state Assembly seat for the new 33rd Legislative District following statewide legislative redistricting. According to Sires, Rodriguez used to work for him back when he was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly.

“He always liked being involved in the assembly,” Sires said. “And I think he thought that this was a good opportunity for him to move on.”

With Rodriguez running for a state elected office, Sires does not face opposition from an incumbent. However, another former mayor may being eyeing the same municipal office in 2023. Roque has signaled he was contemplating challenging Rodriguez, and it may now be a showdown with Sires. But Sires was seriously unfazed.

“He’s entitled to run if he wants to,” Sires said.

Regardless, Sires is looking to return to West New York and hit the ground running.  

“It’s not as if I haven’t worked with this administration before,” Sires said. “I worked with all the administrations that I represent when I was in Congress. But obviously, West New York is closer to my heart.” 

However, Sires said it will be up to residents if he actually runs, although he said he has had a warm welcome back. Meanwhile, Robert Menendez Jr., the son of U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, has the establishment’s backing in the November election for Sires’ old seat.

“The final decision will be made by the people of West New York, whether they want me to run to become their mayor. So far, quite frankly, I’ve gotten such a good reception in town wherever I go anywhere, that it seems that people are happy I’m making an effort to come back.” 

Roque may throw his hat in the race too

Meanwhile Roque was contemplating a similar future. In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, he said he has remained active in the community since leaving office.

“Since I left office, I have been here to take care of my residents of West New York as a doctor,” Roque said. “My passion as a doctor and as mayor is to take care of people. And what the future may hold, I don’t really now. But let me tell you something, I’m going to keep all my options open.” 

Roque previously alluded to challenging Rodriguez for mayor. While he would not yet commit as to whether he would actually run or not, he chided the current administration for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and crime as well as garbage issues. 

“There has been complaints with a lot of the COVID deaths,” Roque said. “West New York ranks one of the highest ones in the county as far as the number of deaths. There’s also been a lot of complaints recently about all the crime. Our statics are the highest also right now for crime. Everything is mess, especially the streets. The employees, they took away their good insurances. Yesterday, the Board of Education, one of their employees they put him on Omnia, which doesn’t allow out of network.” 

Roque continued bashing the current state of the town, calling it a “dump” under Rodriguez.

“Take a walk in West New York and see how dirty it is,” Roque said. “You can’t compare it to Union City. You can’t compare it to North Bergen, even Guttenberg. West New York is the dump of Hudson County right now. And it’s all due to a lack of leadership. Or I should say no leadership at all.”

According to Roque, West New York is failing due to a “lack of leadership.” He chided Sires for saying he has been involved when the town has been “going downhill” in his opinion.

“You read about Sires boasting how he’s getting involved,” Roque said. “The reality is, what is he doing? What are we doing for West New York?”

When asked if he would run again, Roque doubled down that he was not sure yet.

“People are just frustrated,” Roque said. “They are complaining and they keep coming to me. I have a really good life, I can’t complain. I have a 6-year-old boy. I’m enjoying myself a lot. It’s a tough decision to make. Because once I make the decision, I have to go full force like I’ve always done in the military. So I’m contemplating it right now. But I can tell you it hurts, seeing what the town is going through right now. It just bothers me.”

Roque concluded with an analogy that suggest he will likely run for mayor in town come 2023: “West New York is like a patient dying in the ICU. Somebody has got to give West New York a transfusion, and it might have to be me.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.