Breaking for a second time her initial campaign promise of serving no more than two terms, Mayor Wilda Diaz filed to seek a fourth term and there are five challengers hoping to take her place in City Hall.
Three of them are ‘Diaz Team’ council members, including both of her 2016 running mates, Fernando Irizarry and Jelmin Caba, and Joel Pabon — who was her unsuccessful challenger that year but ran for re-election in 2018 under the banner “Mayor Diaz Team.”
According to the City Clerk’s office, the candidates for mayor are Joseph B. Vas, a attorney whose father served as mayor from 1990 until 2008; Councilmen Helmin Caba, Joel Pabon Sr. and Fernando Irizarry, plus Justin Maldonado, a political newcomer who seems fixated on opioid drug overdoses.
Irizarry, the only Council candidate who ever ran with Diaz more than once, and Maldonado apparently could not recruit running mates.
Vas is running with City Council candidates Angel Mota Ramirez, who served on the Redevelopment Agency from 2002 to 2004, and Vanessa Bermudez, a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
A retired postal supervisor, Pabon is running with City Council candidates Doris Fonseca and Terotha L. Frederick.
A teacher;s aide in the local public school system, Caba is running with City Council candidates Rose Brion Morales, a curriculum coordinator at Middlesex County College, and Bienvenido “BJ” Torres Jr., 45, a graduate teaching assistant at Rutgers University.
A former assistant branch manager at Banco Popular before her 2008 election, Diaz is running with City Council candidates Junior Iglesias, vice chair of the Perth Amboy Board of Education, and Bernadette Falcon-Lopez, senior pastor at God’s Armies Ministries of New Jersey, a fundamentalist church operating out of the Raritan Bay Area YMCA.
Vas is framing the contest as a two way race, offering a choice among “more of the same” or his leadership, which is the only chance for real change.
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