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Perth Amboy Councilwoman Milady Tejeda, right, and council candidates Kenneth Puccio and Hailey Cruz.

Perth Amboy council race will go to runoff

Staffer for one council slate was charged with bribery

By Joey Fox, November 09 2022 3:55 pm

The race for three seats on the Perth Amboy City Council will head to a runoff, with a slate backed by Mayor Helmin Caba facing off against a rival slate embroiled in a bribery scandal.

Caba’s slate, which includes Councilwoman Milady Tejeda (15.0%), Kenneth Puccio (15.4%), and Hailey Cruz (152.%), has a small lead over the Vote for a Better Tomorrow slate, consisting of Councilman Joel Pabon (13.6%), Jeanette Rios (12.3%), and Junior Iglesia (11.8%).

In addition to having the backing of Caba, who first won the mayor’s office in 2020 by unseating incumbent Wilda Diaz, Tejeda’s slate was supported by the Perth Amboy Democratic organization in the officially nonpartisan election.

But the biggest news in the race was made by the Vote for a Better Tomorrow slate. On October 24, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office charged a staffer for council candidate Jeanette Rios with offering voters ShopRite gift cards in exchange for votes.

Caba and Tejeda called for the Rios slate to drop out of the race, but Rios and her ticketmates continued their campaign anyways.

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