Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz — the first woman to serve as the city’s leader — is entangled in a bitter battle for reelection against Billy Delgado. Delgado’s political consultant James Devine e-mailed insulting comments about Diaz to her government address. Diaz told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that she was outraged by the actions and disappointed that Delgado kept Devine on his payroll.
Devine’s e-mails called Diaz stupid and lacking intelligence. “I believe now in this day and age comments that he was making against a mayor and one that has been working hard during the last four years was very telling,” she said. “I believe it was an intimidation tactic for me not to seek reelection.”
Diaz has stayed in the race and said she “wanted to make it clear that that type of behavior is not acceptable.”
She is also disappointed with her opponent Delgado’s reaction to Devine’s e-mails. While Delgado distanced himself from Devine’s remarks, he continues to pay Devine. “He could’ve easily severed the ties and even paid him severance,” Diaz said.
Delgado’s action, or lack thereof, shows his lack of judgment, according to Diaz. She said voters should think about what has transpired during the campaign before casting their ballots.
Perth Amboy has had debt issues. Diaz claims that when she became mayor, the city had $250 million in debt and since then she has decreased the debt by $54 million. But her critics have said she refinanced existing debt instead of eliminating it. While Diaz said she has refinanced debt, the city has received a positive outlook from Standard & Poor’s, which proves her administration has been financially responsible. She said the work needed to be done to save the taxpayers.
Diaz has also been criticized for not fighting when Chevron wanted its taxes lowered. She said Chevron was asking for $12 million and the city settled for $7 million, a savings. She said a lengthy court battle would have cost the taxpayers. Buckeye recently purchased Chevron for more than $250 million and Diaz said the company is spending $200 million in upgrades in Perth Amboy and staying in the city.
Diaz said her greatest challenge is the debt of Perth Amboy, but corporations are moving in. “We have three large corporations recently relocated to the city of Perth Amboy and bringing in $600 million of investment for the city,” she said.
When asked why there has been so much animosity directed at her during the campaign, Diaz said it shows there is a lack of respect for women. “Yes, I happen to be the first woman mayor of the city of Perth Amboy but I have shown to them that I can do the job,” she said, adding that she has overcome corruption and mounting debt.
“We’re showing the other cities … that we can do it during the worst times, the worst financial crisis in the country, right here in the city of Perth Amboy,” Diaz said. “I was able to again do the work and do the task and there was no need to do what they did.”