PERTH AMBOY — Twice as many city residents are unemployed today as were without jobs when Mayor Wilda Diaz was elected.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,179 unemployed people living in Perth Amboy in August while that figure was just 1,840 the month before Diaz defeated longtime Mayor Joe Vas.
That 127 percent increase in unemployment is a key problem that only Billy Delgado has addressed in the campaign, with his detailed plans for initiating a transit village to inspire private investment in the city and collaborating with the new owner of a 250-acre oil refinery to ensure local hiring, prevent pollution and get relief for heavily taxed homeowners.
Four years ago, Diaz had plenty to say about jobs and the economy but her re-election campaign is silent on the matter.
A few weeks before her May 13, 2008 showdown with Vas, Díaz said, “Jobs were created for people who do not live in Perth Amboy, profits were made by people who do not care about Perth Amboy. There has clearly been no benefit to homeowners whose taxes doubled, whose schools are more crowded and whose streets are rapidly becoming more unsafe.”
“Fewer Perth Amboy residents are working. More Perth Amboy families face severe economic challenges, such as foreclosure and unemployment,” said Díaz, who doubled her yearly salary when she joined the public payroll in 2008. She is currently the highest paid mayor in Middlesex County.
Homeowners have seen the municipal property tax levy double at the same time those jobless figures spiked 127 percent, forcing many into foreclosures and homelessness while city services deteriorated under the Diaz administration.
With a focus on phony numbers cooked up to say taxpayers are less in debt, while they are actually $50 million deeper in red ink according to certified documents filed with the state, Diaz has been waging a negative advertising blitz against Delgado, who is the only one of five challengers expected to have a chance of stopping her from winning a second term.
“I’m running for Mayor because Perth Amboy needs a leader who understands how to create jobs, who listens to people and who cares more about what gets done than who gets credit,” said Delgado. “I’m a businessman. I spent my career in the private sector, and I have created jobs. I believe we can restore the American Dream and give our children and grandchildren the promise of a brighter future.”
Voters will cast ballots for mayor the same day as voting for President and other partisan offices, but local offices will appear on a different part of the ballot, prompting concern that confusion may prevail.