As he worked in the East Ward on Election Day, veteran North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos said he had nothing to do with a pro-Chigozie Onyema flyer circulating in the West Ward, which prompted a cry of foul from West Ward contender Dupre Kelly.
“I did not authorize that,” Ramos said of the flyer, which he says incorrectly identifies him as endorsing Onyema in Onyema’s showdown with Kelly.
“They actually misspelled my colleague’s name,” he added, in reference to Councilman Carlos Gonzalez.
Ramos and Mayor Ras Baraka struck a deal, which required Ramos to stay out of the West Ward, and he honored that deal, the councilman said.
“I know the mayor is fully engaged in the West Ward,” said the North Ward councilman.
Baraka backs Kelly, who yesterday posted a video of himself denouncing Ramos, Gonzalez and their colleague Councilman Luis Quintana, for allegedly backing Onyema. Alluding to the deal with the Barakas, Kelly said the three Latino councilmen stabbed “[him] in the back.”
Ramos didn’t like that, and made a phone call to correct the record.
“I was definitely offended by Mr. Kelly’s statement,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that someone who wants to represent a ward growing in diversity would make such a statement. The mayor and others reached out to him to take the statement down.”
Kelly did take it down.
“If he’s successful, I’m hopeful we can work with him,” said the North Ward councilman.
He added, to be clear, “We didn’t endorse anyone [in the West Ward]. We were asked by the mayor and his brother to not get engaged and we honored that request.”
Besides, he is putting his political capital entirely behind Mike Silva in the East Ward.
Silva is running for seat now occupied by retiring Councilman Augusto Amador.
“I’ve known Mike Silva for 20 years, and we’ve built a special relationship,” Ramos told InsiderNJ. “For me is about lending a helping hand to continue the legacy Augie built. The residents of the East Ward are looking for someone who can advocate for them. They’re concerned about basic quality of life issues. They want someone who can stand up for them when corporate interests and development bring some environmental issues into this community.”
Ramos said he is confident about Silva’s chances tonight in his runoff with former Police Chief Anthony Campos. “We wouldn’t be involved here unless we could help secure a victory for Mike,” he said.
“I respect Anthony Campos,” he added.
But he backs Silva, and said his support goes beyond merely authorizing his face on a piece of literature. It means organizational heft and work.
Ramos said he looks forward to the new governmental season on the council on the other side of today’s runoff election.
“I will do the same thing I’ve done for 16 years, which is to maintain an independent outlook and perspective on how I vote on things,” he said. “We look forward to working with new colleagues. It takes time for people to gel.
“I probably vote with the mayor 80 or 90% of the time,” the pro-labor Ramos noted, as he considered the coming policy terrain.
“I’ve been one of the leading advocates for special improvement districts,” he said. “We have two [in the North Ward] and I am definitely committed to a third along Broadway. There is a lot of potential for growth. We also have historical preservation issues. It’s a big concern amid legal conversions and we are working on legislation to hopefully create better permitting requirements.”