Vas files petitions for mayoral campaign

Attorney Joseph B. Vas, Zoning Board member Vanessa Bermudez, and local businessman Angel Mota Ramirez filed more than 2000 candidate nomination petitions with the City Clerk requesting that their names appear on the general election ballot for mayor and members of the City Council of Perth Amboy. 

Businessman Angel Mota Ramirez, attorney Joseph B. Vas, and Zoning Board member Vanessa Bermudez will challenge Perth Amboy’s chaotic political establishment as the former mayor’s son takes on Wilda Diaz and at least three “Diaz Team” City Council members for mayor.

Some view the race as a rematch of sorts, because Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz –who is seeking a fourth term despite a term limit pledge– defeated her challenger’s father in 2008, after he served as mayor for 18 years and was a member of the General Assembly.

“I am running for Mayor because I believe I understand what matters to our community; lower taxes, strong schools, safe and clean streets and opportunities to succeed,” said Vas. “We need a Mayor who is qualified to confront the complex legal, financial and mismanagement issues facing our city.”

“I have an MBA, I earned valuable experience in public finance working for the New Jersey Department of Treasury and as a tax-cutting attorney, I helped nearly 1000 homeowners fight unfair property assessments and reduce their tax bills,” said Vas.

Joining the Vas ticket is Vanessa Bermudez, who is a member of the Perth Amboy Zoning Board, active with the VFW, the Moose Lodge, Latino American Motorcycle Association.

She is employed as a national sales manager for an LED manufacturing company.

A Perth Amboy resident for nearly 30 years, Bermudez is raising two daughters and a son alongside her husband, Anthony, a Middlesex County Sheriff’s Officer and former member of the Perth Amboy Board of Education.

“Perth Amboy has become so unsafe, that I am frightened to allow my daughters and son to walk to neighborhood grocery or McDonalds,” said Bermudez. “We have never seen the regular gun shootings, stabbings, and attempted rapes the city is experiencing.”

“As a member of the Zoning Board, I have seen firsthand how the city’s overall lack of leadership and political interference and bickering has negatively impacted Perth Amboy’s quality of life and economic growth,” said Bermudez. 

Also on Vas’s ticket is Angel Mota Ramirez, a self-made businessman and property owner, has served from 2002 to 2004 as a member of the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency, which has provided him with insight into the potential improvement and job growth Perth Amboy possesses.

He is a father of two boys and he has dedicated himself to hard work, community involvement and activism. 

“Perth Amboy is blessed with a great geographic location and strong labor force, but political considerations over the past 12 years seems to have rewarded outside developers with tax abatements subsidized by residential taxpayers, denying residents the same incentive and opportunity. It’s simply not fair to the taxpayers and business owners of Perth Amboy,” said Mota Ramirez.

“It’s time Perth Amboy had a qualified team to provide the knowledge and vision to lead our city out of the health and financial crises we are facing,” said Mota Ramirez. “The past 12 years, Perth Amboy residents have seen broken promises and failures at every level of local government.”

Vas is the first candidate for mayor to submit petitions for this year’s election.

In addition to Diaz herself, three “Diaz Team” City Council members are seeking the mayoralty.

Fernando Irizarry and Jelmin Caba — seen here to the right of Mayor Wilda Diaz on election night 2016 — are two of the three “Diaz Team” City Council members who are now running for mayor.

Even with the support of all but one City Council member, Joel Pabon was easily defeated by Diaz in 2016.

He was re-elected in 2018 under the slogan “Mayor Diaz Team” but despite his apparent political weakness and nearly identical track record, Pabon is expected to stay in the race.

Fernando Irizarry is another “Diaz Team” City Council member who is running for mayor. Irizarry was a school board member in 2012, when he and Lisa Nanton replaced Fernando Gonzalez and Kenneth Balut as Diaz running mates at the end of her dismal first term.

The last “Diaz Team” City Council member expected to enter the contest is Jelmin Caba, a $39,000 teacher’s aide employed in the public school system, who attended art school and was elected on “Diaz Team” after an initial run on an anti-Diaz ticket.

Caba is expected to receive significant outside help from as the anointed choice of Middlesex County political boss Kevin McCabe, a lobbyist who served in the administration of disgraced former Gov. Jim McGreevey,

Still, the race will probably boil down to a two-way contest between Diaz and Vas, whose father led a massively successful redevelopment effort in the city from 1990 until his defeat in 2008.

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