In Perth Amboy this year, Mayor Wilda Diaz is seeking a fourth term in office.
Diaz first landed on the political scene when she defeated 18-year incumbent Mayor Joe Vas, who also served as an assemblyman representing the 19th District.
Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) came to power, in fact, in 2009 as the replacement for the indictment-
jammed Vas. Confronting with a vacancy after Vas resigned, Woodbridge got behind hometown candidate Coughlin to defeat the Diaz-backed retired Judge Mathias Rodriguez.
“I don’t think Judge Rodriguez knows the district as well as I do,” Coughlin said at the time.
Perth Amboy tried to make the case for Rodriguez in part by arguing for the need for an Hispanic to represent the 19th District, an argument the establishment heard by the time Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) retired in 2017 and the Middlesex County Democratic Committee replaced him with Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-19).
This year’s race for mayor contains the curiosity, at the very least, of Joe Vas’s son contending to avenge Diaz’s take-down of his father. He’s running in his own right, but he also doesn’t run from the better parts of his father’s record as mayor.
In addition to the presence in the six-person field of fellow newcomer Justin Maldonado (Editor’s Note: he actually dropped out of the race, so it’s a five-person contest), the contest contains the intrigue of three councilmen: Helmin Caba (who also serves as local Democratic Committee chairman), Fernando Irizarry and Joel Pabon, vying for the seat occupied by Diaz.
Is it too many people in the race to threaten the incumbent?
Formerly a nonpartisan election in May, the Perth Amboy mayoral contest went to a nonpartisan model in November, in time for Diaz’s 2012 reelection bid, and this year is again not unique in the sense that local dynamics in this waterfront town always manage to overshadow what’s happening nationally in the presidential contest.
That said, consider the following question: