Ex-Backer Tries to Cut Term Diaz Would Extend

PERTH AMBOY — Mayor Wilda Diaz hopes to extend her term of office by six months with an ordinance moving the city’s non-partisan municipal elections to the same date as the November general election but Miguel Morales is spearheading a recall effort that would cut her reign short.

City Council members unanimously introduced the ordinance, which will be the subject of a public hearing on Wednesday, March 24. The measure could be adopted by the governing body that same night.

Diaz said if the change is approved, municipal elections will be held in November starting in 2012.

The office of mayor and two council seats will be up that year and winners would take office Jan. 1, 2013, six months later than Diaz’s term will end under current circumstances.

Morales, a city employee who helped Diaz defeat former Mayor Joseph Vas in 2008, wants voters to remove her from office.

“Wilda Diaz has relinquished all her power to Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum, who is not a Perth Amboy resident,” Morales said. “She’s given all her appointing authority up to the business administrator and made her acting director of the police department.”

“The business administrator is running the town,” said Morales. “The mayor is not doing anything.”

Morales filed with the Perth Amboy City Clerk’s office a notice of intent, which would give organizers 160 days to collect signatures from about 6,000 registered voters on a petition.

If they are successful, the city would hold a special recall election to determine if Diaz should be removed frmo office and, if so, who will succeed her in the job.

State officials adopted a legislation two months ago that allows municipalities with nonpartisan forms of government an option of switching election day from the second Tuesday in May to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Diaz said the May election costs the city about $50,000, but critics say the measure will disguise local issues in the cacophony of political noise surrounding campaigns for president and other higher offices.

On the same day Morales delivered the recall notice to the City Clerk’s office, Feigenbaum transferred him from the police department’s traffic maintenance division to a detail collecting garbage.

Feigenbaum said Morales, a city employee for about eight years, was only assigned to the public works department’s sanitation operation temporarily because some workers are out sick.

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