PERTH AMBOY — Vacuous leadership in City Hall has inspired a wave of immigration comprised entirely of potential challengers who moved into town to enter the campaign for mayor.
Since June 1987, Frank Salado and his wife, Lourdes, have resided in a 1,824-square foot, single family home located at 726 Roosevelt Avenue in Carteret, but a day before he would be unqualified to run for mayor in the city, the 65-year-old businessman established residency in Perth Amboy.
Salado has virtually no civic connection to the city but sources say he is prepared to spend a lot of his own money corralling the votes of citizens of Dominican ancestry although polling suggests he has gained no traction so far.
Longtime city resident Billy Delgado, 52, re-established his legal residency in the city several years ago, after he temporarily relocated out of town for business purposes. Delgado and his wife Marilyn have owned a home at 216 Kearny Avenue since October 1988 but that does not preclude critics from calling him “Carpetbagger Billy” in anonymous messages posted on the Internet.
Delgado’s children are enrolled in an exclusive private school in Puerto Rico but the candidate dismisses any suggestion that it raises residency questions, saying that he and his wife make private choices about what is best for their family.
The greatest interlopers are undoubtedly the slew of high paid out-of-town administrators added to the city payroll by incumbent Mayor Wilda Diaz, who vowed during her first campaign not to hire “double dippers.”
Chief among them is city business administrator Gregory Fehrenbach, the de-facto mayor since Diaz was elected, who lives at 40 Yorktown Road in East Brunswick and is receiving $200,000 at taxpayer expense on top of the $90,990 public pension he started collecting in 2004, when he was 57 years old.
Frank Dann, who is paid $106,000 as head of the public works department, is only 58 years old but he also collects a $57,952 pension at taxpayer expense. Dann lives at 8 Cedar Green Lane in Berkeley Heights.
The incumbent also hired a Republican municipal attorney, whose Liberty Corners law firm — Apruzzese, Mc Dermott, Mastro & Murphy — has been paid in excess of $2 million during the four years Diaz has been mayor, and two others who served as business administrator but have since left her administration, all from outside the city.
Announced or presumed to be running for mayor are Robert McCoy, the city’s former director of the Urban Enterprise Zone; Jose Cameron, a former municipal judge; and Tea Party Republican Sharon Hubberman.
Most observers believe the election will boil down to a race between Delgado and Diaz, but more candidates may enter the contest before the Sept. 4 petition filing deadline.
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