Perth Amboy Councilman Helmin Caba is gearing up for his runoff race against Mayor Wilda Diaz, launching an early offensive claiming the November election’s results suggest the incumbent is headed to a loss.
“I am grateful to voters for decisively supporting the 2020 Vision Team, qualifying us for the upcoming runoff. The latest election results also indicate 9,956 people — or 67% of the total turnout — voted against City Hall’s current Administration,” Caba said. “In a practical sense, Wilda Diaz lost this election for mayor. More voters cast ballots for me or for another of her other admirable opponents.”
Diaz finished ahead of the four other mayoral candidates in the first round of voting, leading Caba 4,942-4,519.
Joe Vas ran in third with 3,619 votes, while Councilmen Joel Pabon and Fernando Irizarry received 975 and 822 votes, respectively.
“The other three mayoral contenders waged worthy campaigns. Each of them advocated ways to improve our city. We are united in that respect,” Caba said. “I am working hard to embrace their supporters and bring about meaningful changes for our city.”
The Dec. 15 runoff between Caba, Perth Amboy’s Democratic Chairman, and Diaz, a three-term mayor, will be the first in the city’s history. Perth Amboy voters in 2019 backed a referendum that would launch a second round of voting if no candidate secured more than majority support in the first round.
The move was opposed by Diaz and pushed by her political opponents.
Council slates aligned with Diaz and Caba will also make the runoff. Junior Iglesia and Bernadette Falcon-Lopez are with Diaz, while Rose Morales and Bienvenido “BJ” Torres are with Caba.
Torres, the fourth-place council finisher, ran 189 votes ahead of Vanessa Bermudez, who said she would seek a recount.
Iglesia, who ran first among the council candidates, is shown in a video alongside a former city council candidate allegedly removing ballots from an inbox.
Election officials in Middlesex County received responses to cure letters sent to seven Perth Amboy voters who said they never returned or received those ballots.
The irregularities have forced election officials to sequester Perth Amboy ballots, and while authorities have been made aware of the oddities, it’s not clear whether they’ve launched investigations.