ELIZABETH— Incumbent Nelson Gonzalez’s 2006 campaign manager is behind bars for paying off government officials in exchange for contracts, but he is still seeking another term representing the Second Ward.
Gonzalez is backed by the Regular Political Organization against Carlos Lucio, who is waging a grassroots campaign without help from major contributors, but plenty of shoe leather and good spirits.
“By walking door to door meeting people and asking for their support, I get a better sense of how people feel about the issues,” said Lucio, principal at Dr. Antonia Pantoja School 27.
Lucio was critical of the incumbent’s votes to raise property taxes and his council salary. “While families were losing their homes, city politicians gave themself a pay hike,” said Lucio. “My opponent did not earn a pay hike in his first term,” said Lucio. “I think too many politicians take unearned benefits at the expense of taxpayers.”
Gonzalez has been putting up lawn signs and trying to enforce anti-littering ordinances in an effort to stop Lucio supporters from distributing leaflets that expose his multiple jobs, votes for yearly tax increases and close association with convicted contractor Ray Vella.
“I have a positive impact on our neighborhoods,” said Gonzalez, who was exposed for scooping up Lucio campaign letters by a Rosehill Place neighbor who spotted him in a frenzy one recent Sunday morning.
Gonzalez hotly denied that he has three jobs at taxpayer expense, as was reflected in an Asbury Park Press report compiled from state payroll data. He did acknowledge that his combined public funded salaries equal more than $120,000.
Gonzalez said he expects to be re-elected because “things are going well in the city.” Lucio, the challenger, said the councilman is out of touch.
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