by Leslie Dominguez-Rodriguez, Perth Amboy Democratic Chair
Recently, print and Internet news outlets have given attention to Mayor Diaz’s coalition of former opponents who have called for my resignation as chair of the Perth Amboy Democratic Organization. In so doing, the group claims that I failed the party in a number of ways, which ostensibly caused them to put aside their differences and unify for this purpose. Considering the rhetoric and verbal sparring that previously characterized the political relationships among the group of four, the source of their sudden consensus is likely something other than my leadership of the party.
It is only March and Mayor Diaz has now called for me to resign twice. Apparently, all of the other unfulfilled promises, such as seeking a two-term limit for mayor, have taken the back burner to her back room brokered agenda. It will be interesting to see what materializes from the Mayor between now and 2016. Considering her criticisms of former Mayor Vas, were she to seek a third term, it would be nothing short of hypocrisy.
When she first ran in 2008, then candidate Diaz purported to be the voice of reform and progress. Fast forward 5 years and she appears to have reneged on her promises and is now running her office in a way to bully people with whom she does not agree. These are the same things that she accused Mayor Vas of engaging in. If she was going to evolve into the kind of politician she criticized, the least she could have done was to fight harder to maintain the programs and funding the city has lost. What good does it do for her to forge alliances with elected and unelected officials if Perth Amboy does not benefit at all?
At the end of the day, what did I do that was so bad? Mayor Diaz points to my support for Billy Delgado who was aligned with a Republican ticket. That support was not on behalf of the party, nor was it based on anything other than my position as a union leader whose platform received support from Mr. Delgado. Additionally, they criticize Mr. Delgado’s position as a volunteer legal advisor to the party. Considering the facts of Mayor Diaz’s alliances and endorsements, instead of banging her drum to the tune of “Do As I Say, Not As I Do,” she should be grateful for the time Mr. Delgado volunteers to help the interests of the City’s leaders.
The purported reasons for demanding my resignation, which are advanced by Mayor Diaz, drip with irony. If consorting with Republicans were grounds for someone’s resignation, then surely that same logic would apply to the Mayor equally. Let us not forget that the Mayor gladly campaigned with and accepted an endorsement from Governor Christie, a Republican. Mayor Diaz also supported Maria Garcia’s failed council bid and presently maintains an alliance with Ken Gonzalez. Both Garcia and Gonzalez were card carrying Republicans and Garcia even ran in 2004 with Mr. Delgado who is at the heart of the Mayor’s criticisms of me. Isn’t it funny that Garcia’s alignment with Delgado isn’t enough to get her on the persona non grata list. In fact, in spite of this, the Mayor saw fit to appoint her to the Planning Board. Even now, the Mayor would be hard pressed to name a single accomplishment of that board since appointing Garcia.
Mayor Diaz is proving to have evolved into the very political being she vowed to liberate the city from in 2008. With her latest act of appointing herself to the Library Board, she now holds a staggering 5 board appointments. More than Mayor Vas ever held. Yet, despite all of these appointments, despite being one of the highest paid mayors in the county at $90,000 a year, despite having a business administrator earning at least $200,000 a year, nothing is getting done in this City. Therefore, to then turn around and stop the few things that can get done from happening simply adds insult to the injury being inflicted upon the city and its citizens.
Instead of uniting to move Perth Amboy forward as she previously promised in campaigns, Mayor Diaz has adopted an obstructionist attitude. She recently refused to attend an emergency meeting of the party for the purpose of selecting a candidate from Perth Amboy for Middlesex County Freeholder. She even refused to submit names of Perth Amboy residents for consideration to be nominated as candidates. Imagine if council members refused to attend meetings because they disagreed with the Mayor. Imagine if they refused to move business forward that could benefit the city simply out of spite. How does sabotage benefit Perth Amboy?
This is not a schoolyard dispute. Picking up your toys and going home neither is a solution, nor is it an appropriate response. It is government in action become government inaction because one person does not like another person. Like it or not, I was ELECTED to be chair of the committee for a specific term. When my term is up, Mayor Diaz does not have to support me nor endorse my candidacy for Chair. While I am chair, the Mayor, as an adult, an “honorary” member appointed by me, should respect my position, and the Committee’s decision to elect me, without making it personal, and work to do that which she claims is her goal for the City. For now, it seems her only goal is to make people bow tow to her demands under penalty of being ostracized.