PERTH AMBOY – Mayor Wilda Diaz took the oath of office Tuesday afternoon at Perth Amboy High School as family members, friends and supporters looked on. Diaz, who defeated Joseph Vas in the May 13 non-partisan mayoral election by 1,200 votes, is the first elected female Latino mayor in New Jersey.
A former bank vice president, Diaz plans to make finance the focus of her administration. “Finance is everything. It’s the bottom line,” she said. “To stabilize taxes you have to look at your finances. You can’t continue to have one-shot deals.”
The new mayor also plans to look at the number of municipal jobs. Perth Amboy, a city of 4.8 square miles and about 48,600 residents, has 400 employees.
Diaz also intends to address the city’s crime problem and the need for additional recreation.
County Democratic Chairman Joseph Spicuzzo, who like Diaz was elected mayor without previous experience, believes she can do the job.
“She brings fresh ideas and a new group of people with fresh ideas,” Spicuzzo said. “She’s got a tough job.”
Diaz said that she knows being mayor is going to be a challenge. “I’ll be busy, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m not overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m good at delegating. I don’t need to rule with an iron fist.”
The mayor’s first day in office was filled with fundraising activities intended to help her retire a $60,000 campaign debt. Diaz hosted a champagne brunch at the Raritan Yacht Club prior to her swearing-in ceremony. In the evening, Diaz held a $250-a-person cocktail reception, followed by a $125-a-person gala at Seabra Armory restaurant.
Diaz spent more than $131,000 to defeat Vas, who spent more than twice as much on his losing bid, according to campaign finance reports.
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