By David Cruz
Mayor Felix Roque rode into office in 2011 as a populist reformer, making fast friends with Gov. Christie, who’s been here several times, announcing the new Formula 1 Race series in town and new schools construction. In this largely Cuban immigrant community, there is evidence that Roque’s personal popularity is still high, but even some of his once staunch supporters are wondering if the mayor has begun to undo his good start.
“We hate to see this happen because what we want is stability; we need stability in West New York,” said West New Yorker George Gurdak. “We need to have a game plan here to spur business in this area. Just not too far away from us in Hoboken, things are going very well, thank you very much, but here in West New York we need to make things happen.”
Roque and his son are accused of hacking into, and then taking down, the website of an opponent who had started a recall effort against him. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. The governor has distanced himself from Roque, and while he hasn’t specifically commented on Roque’s indictment, Christie has said “I don’t call on public officials to resign until and unless they’ve been indicted by a grand jury,” which does not bode well for Roque.
Roque’s medical practice is said to be in some financial trouble as well, and, on the day the indictment against him was announced, the mayor’s mother underwent major surgery. Roque couldn’t speak with us today, but sent a text message saying, in part:
“I am a firm believer in the Lord and justice will be done. My priority is my mother now.”
The revolt has moved into Roque’s own administration now, as commissioner, and former ally, Count Wiley, told NJ Today today that he will announce another recall drive against Roque in September.
A few weeks ago Mayor Roque stood on the steps of town hall and addressed a large crowd of supporters. Then, he was defiant; today he was silent, and no other demonstrations of support are planned.