Hackensack United for Progress Announces Candidacy with Record-Setting Petition Filing

HACKENSACK, NJ – Hackensack United for Progress filed nearly 3000 nominating petitions today for Lara Rodriguez, Jason Some, Michael Williams, Carlos Merino, and Rommy Buttafuoco, who are running for the five seats up for grabs in the coming election this May. This record-setting amount of support is the team’s first step in their bid to restore honest government and fiscal responsibility to the City of Hackensack, which has been plagued by cronyism, back-room deals, and wild spending under the polarizing Labrosse/Canestrino Administration.
The filing comes just days after Hackensack United for Progress held a campaign kick-off event on Thursday, March 2, which was attended by hundreds of energetic supporters from all parts of the City. “We were pleased to welcome many former Labrosse/Canestrino supporters, including their former campaign treasurer and all three of their most recent School Board candidates,” Campaign Manager Caseen Gaines said. “The fantastic turnout and composition of the crowd perfectly reflected our goal; uniting our City to ensure progress for Hackensack in all aspects of community life.”

Gaines admits that the widespread outpouring of support caught him by surprise, highlighting that, unlike the current Mayor and council, his team has not been campaigning for office for the past six months. “Our early numbers surpassed our expectations,” Gaines said. “I don’t believe there have ever been so many petitions filed in Hackensack just to gain a spot on the ballot. As our volunteers and candidates went around collecting signatures, we found hundreds of residents who were eager to hear more about our vision and join our team. Their level of enthusiasm was unprecedented.”

Gaines attributed the exuberant response to the clearly-qualified team of “United” candidates, which includes active members within the city and school system, as well as a former councilman. More importantly, he says that voters have become exasperated hearing about the harsh treatment toward municipal employees and residents by the Labrosse/Canestrino Team during the past four years. Four of the five councilmembers are currently running for re-election promising “Lower Taxes and Honest Government,” an intentionally-misleading slogan designed to mask their debt increase of $50 million and their blatant acts of corruption.

Just last month, media outlets throughout the state reported on the Labrosse/Canestrino Team’s latest misuse of taxpayer funds when Vision Media, the city’s high-priced public relations firm, was caught red-handed sending what a sitting councilperson described as “thinly disguised political propaganda…financed by the taxpayers,” at a cost estimated to be near $40,000. In response, Mayor John Labrosse admitted that if his team is re-elected, “we will be putting them back on [the city payroll.]”

A key pillar of the Hackensack United for Progress platform includes establishing an Ethics Review Board, which will give residents assurances that an end will be put to councilmembers financially benefitting from their positions in unethical ways, as well as from taxpayer dollars and municipal resources. The Review Board would help put an end to the litany of lawsuits that have been brought about due to the Labrosse/Canestrino Team’s steady stream of unlawful acts and ethical violations.

“The reputation of the city has been in jeopardy over the past four years,” candidate Lara Rodriguez said. “You can put up a million new buildings, but people won’t move here if they believe the Mayor and Council are only looking out for their own interests. Taxpayers literally can’t afford to finance any more of their errors.”

“The Labrosse/Canestrino Team has instituted the worst kind of ‘open-door policy,’” candidate Rommy Buttafuoco said. “Almost anyone is eligible to file a suit against them because of their mismanagement,” she added. “They keep asking for a chance to show they can run this city properly, but my family can’t afford to keep paying for their growing pains. After four years, they’ve demonstrated they aren’t equipped for ‘on the job’ training.”
The Hackensack United for Progress team also includes former councilman Jason Some, a local business owner on Main Street who was appointed in 2015 to fill a seat left vacant after former councilwoman Rose Greenman resigned and filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino made anti-Semitic remarks to her and created “intolerable” working conditions in City Hall. “I have known Mayor Labrosse for a long time, and had high hopes for him and his team,” candidate Some said. “But after personally hearing them express a desire to target residents of our city, I could no longer support their actions.”

“We are committed to ending the Labrosse/Canestrino Administration’s revolving door of key City officials,” said candidate Carlos Merino, noting that Labrosse and Canestrino have had more City Managers and City Attorneys in the past four years than all City Councils combined in nearly three previous decades. “Hackensack taxpayers can no longer afford to underwrite this costly and embarrassing chaos.”

Candidate Michael Williams said that he would lead an effort to generate a better working relationship between the City Council and the City’s workforce. “As a retired Hackensack Police Officer, I know that a positive and mutually respectful relationship is crucial for the City’s success. Most people would see that as basic common sense, but the Labrosse/Canestrino Administration just doesn’t get it.”

Hackensack United for Progress candidates Lara Rodriguez, Jason Some, Michael Williams, Carlos Merino and Rommy Buttafuoco have a long history of community service and are eager to restore honest and responsible government to Hackensack. They plan to increase ratables through responsible development and will end the reckless borrowing which is destroying Hackensack’s future. They plan to hire and promote employees based on merit and put an end to the cronyism and unlawful conduct of the Canestrino/Labrosse Administration.

Hackensack United for Progress is a broad-based coalition of residents, merchants and organizations united to end the chaos and corruption of the past four years and put Hackensack back on the path to success as a community.

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