PERTH AMBOY — Speaking to supporters at a jam-packed fundraiser at the Armory Thursday evening, Billy Delgado said the field of candidates running for mayor includes “two contenders and four pretenders,” noting that only he and the incumbent have a team running for the City Council.
“If you don’t have a team, what does it about your leadership? A mayor needs support from City Council to get things done,” said Delgado. “Four candidates for mayor are pretenders because they show no leadership, they do not have a team and they are not going to win but they threaten to distract voters who want to make changes in City Hall.”
Housing values have crashed in Perth Amboy, while Mayor Wilda Diaz doubled unemployment and signed five property tax hikes in four years but after acknowledging there is an incumbent during his address to almost 400 people who attended the dinner, Delgado demurred from criticizing his principal opponent and declared that he intends to stick to waging a positive campaign.
Instead, Delgado said he will propose serious solutions that he will implement if voters choose him to replace the current Mayor and he compared the city’s needs with the Kearney Avenue home he purchased in 1986.
“When I brought my wife to show her, it looked like a ghost house so I told her to close her eyes,” Delgado said. “I said we had to use some imagination and see what we could do with it once we rip out the damaged floor boards, install safe wiring and maybe paint.”
After a riff about the city’s proud history, Delgado said Perth Amboy today has enormous potential and he described his plans to rejuvenate the economy with three particular initiatives that will create jobs and lower taxes for homeowners.
“We have a train station that has been totally ignored while other communities have turned theirs into a magnate for private investment and redevelopment,” Delgado said. “Look around at what they have done in South Amboy, Woodbridge, and New Brunswick. In the last four years, Perth Amboy lost 25 percent of the people who ride trains at our station every day.”
Delgado said his plan for creating a transit village is based on NJ Transit’s commitment to spend $50 million modernizing the rail depot, and building on that in a way comparable to Rahway’s successful effort that resulted in $1 billion in private investments for new housing, retail and commercial construction.”
Delgado said he is also prepared to push projects at the former Celotex site, a 36-acre riverfront tract at the corner of Convery Boulevard and Smith Street, which he called “a gateway to Perth Amboy” and he promised to work closely with Buckeye Partners, the company that recently purchased the former Chevron oil refinery, to insure local residents get job opportunities, to prevent pollution and restore the level of property tax payments made on that land.
“City officials surrendered $8 million and cut the assessed value of the oil refinery to $118 million less than a year before Buckeye Partners paid Chevron $260 million for it,” Delgado said. “Perth Amboy needs a mayor who will fight for the taxpayers instead of giving tax breaks to billion-dollar corporations.”
The candidate’s daughter, Ariana Delgado, a student at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, entertained the crowd with her virtuoso voice, accompanied by classical guitar.
The performance was a poignant exhibit of the result of Delgado’s choice to focus on his children following on his challenge to former Mayor Joe Vas in 2004. “My wife and I had created a plan for our children. We wanted them to have a worldly education, and we wanted them to be bilingual and bi cultural,” explained the candidate in a prior interview, responding to critics who questioned his dedication to Perth Amboy.
Observers say the turnout and amount of money raised by the event signifies unquestionably strong dedication to Delgado among Perth Amboy residents.
Attending the Delgado event were a majority of school board members, Councilman Fernando Gonzalez and former Councilman David Szilagyi, Carteret Borough Council members Jorge Diaz and Iris Colon, and Ron Snipes, the heroic host of RU1 Comedy who prevented a man from jumping off the Victory Bridge in February.