Touting a record of fiscal responsibility and leadership during a global health pandemic, Wilda Diaz today formally launched her bid for a fourth term as mayor of Perth Amboy.
“I’m proud of all the many achievements of our administration,” said Diaz, the longest-serving urban woman mayor in New Jersey. “We have focused our work on making sure our City’s resources are used to help our community directly.”
Diaz announced that school board vice president Junior Iglesias and Bernadette Falcon Lopez, a senior pastor at God’s Armies Ministries of New Jersey and a local police chaplain.
She faces Helmin Caba, a city councilman, and attorney Joseph B. Vas, the son of her predecessor, in the November non-partisan general election.
She said fiscal discipline permitted Perth Amboy to create a budget surplus to that allowed for “vital services to residents during the pandemic and to aid our small business owners with grants to use in order to prepare for re-opening during this crisis.
“Fiscal responsibility is about making sure we have the funds to help citizens when needed,” Diaz said. “I am committed to continue doing so during this crisis.”
Vas disputed Diaz’s claims of fiscal responsibility, saying that Perth Amboy’s debt is $38 million higher than it was when she became mayor twelve years ago.
“Diaz’s claim that she stabilized taxes in another fiction over fact,” the Vas campaign said in a statement released today. “The tax rate rose from $2.177 in 2008 to $2.978 in 2020 which represents a nearly 40% increase far from stable.”
According to Vas, claims that the city’s bond rating has improved “is a deception resulting from increased taxes not fiscal management.”
Diaz also pointed to the turning of once-polluted sites, known as brownfields, into tax-paying, job creating businesses.
“We’ve reclaimed sites that no one said could be developed including hundreds of union jobs, and long-term local living wage jobs for city residents,” she said.
According to Diaz, the city distributed over 250,000 meals to ensure that local residents didn’t face food shortages during the pandemic.
“You can’t stay healthy if you don’t eat, and you can’t buy enough food to eat right if you’ve lost your job,” the mayor said. “We’ve worked in partnership with community organizations to provide thousands and thousands of free meals and groceries per week to any Perth Amboy resident who needs help.”
Diaz is just the third mayor since 1976, when George J. Otlowski won his first of four elections. Facing a recall election, Otlowski resigned in 1990 and was replaced by Joseph Vas, the city’s first Hispanic mayor. Vas served until Diaz unseated him in 2008.