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Rematch in West New York?

Former Mayor Dr. Felix Roque teases challenging Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez in 2023

Former Mayor Dr. Felix Roque

Former West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque has hinted at possibly challenging incumbent Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez in the 2023 municipal election.

Rodriguez previously beat Roque in 2019 in close fight, with Roque losing a seat on the WNY Board of Commissioners by only 674 votes. According to past reporting from the Hudson Reporter, the campaign leading up to that election was brutal and left Town Hall at a standstill.

On Facebook, Roque posted multiple photos of sidewalks covered in garbage and wrote: “The organization ‘New Beginning’ headed by Mr. Gabriel Rodríguez, present mayor and who was a commissioner in my administration, I don’t think learned to respect and care for the people. We can’t allow the disaster to continue in our beloved city. If they can’t do the job then I’ll have to take the mayor’s position again. Your days are numbered. Put your batteries on and work for the people.”

In another post, Roque continued slamming Rodriguez: “[We] pay too much taxes and soon our taxes will be raised again,” Roque wrote. “Stop the abuse against residents of West New York. I don’t blame the employees of this administration, I blame the leaders who make over 100K… Enough already.”

A photo of a street in WNY posted by Roque.

Observing and waiting

Roque told the Hudson Reporter that he has been keeping on eye on Rodriguez since he took office, and criticized the current mayor over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been observing the job that the new Administration has done in the past two years and if I had to give them a grade it would be a D for deficient,” Roque said. “As a physician it pained me to see how unprepared and unorganized they were in the response to COVID crisis. Due to their mismanagement, hundreds of West New Yorkers will be one family member less at the dinner table this Christmas. The mayor cracked under pressure and people died. End of story.”

Roque again said that the streets in town were dirty and added that rents were high.

“Most of my patients live in West New York and it is disheartening to hear the complaints of higher rent and filthy streets,” Roque said. “In a time where residents are hurting to make an honest living the administration voted to give themselves a 15K raise. Their priorities are not in line with the people’s priorities.”

Roque is referring to an introduced ordinance that would increase salary ranges and raise the minimum wage to $15 for a number of town employees. However, despite the flagrant criticisms of the Rodriguez Administration, Roque has not yet decided for certain if he will run again.

Mayor Gabriel Rodriquez

Rodriguez not phased

In a statement to the Hudson Reporter, Rodriguez was not paying Roque any mind.

“The health, safety, and quality of life of our residents is and will always be our top priority,” Rodriguez said. “With all that is going on in the world today, to entertain this nonsense is ridiculous and distracts from addressing what is most important, our community’s needs, something Roque was not good at and clearly knows nothing about.”

Instead of responding to Roque’s allegations, Rodriguez instead promoted the COVID-19 vaccine site in town, apparently taking the higher road.

“For those who are interested in obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot at our Memorial High School Gym, please use the Holy Name Medical Center link below to make your appointment,” Rodriguez said.

For more information, go to https://vaccine.holyname.org/C19VACWNY.

Meanwhile, the NJ Attorney General’s Office has sought to revoke Roque’s license to practice medicine and surgery after he allegedly inappropriately wrote prescriptions for high dosages of the powerful opioid and cancer pain medication “Subsys,” after allegedly receiving substantial payments from the drug’s manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

From 2013 through 2015, Roque allegedly accepted more than $53,000 in “speaker’s fee” payments, meals and travel from Insys, including allegedly attending a conference in Arizona. According to the Attorney General’s Office, one of Roque’s patients allegedly overdosed on a Subsys prescription he allegedly wrote.

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.