Assemblyman Joe Vas’s (D-Perth Amboy) indictmenttoday on state corruption charges sparked the 19th District to action, as the county chairmen from both parties responded less than two weeks in front of their respective conventions.
Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Joe Spicuzzo said he wants to talk to Vas, charged with stealing funds from the City of Perth Amboy while he was mayor,before proceeding with his party’s convention scheduled for March 25 at the Forge.
“It depends on what Joe wants to do,” said Spicuzzo. “I’m sure he’s thinking about not running. I’m going to talk to him first thing tomorrow morning and we’ll see where he stands.”
Vas had submitted his name to Spicuzzo to compete for his Assembly seat along with Assemblyman Joe Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) and South Amboy Mayor John T. O’Leary.
On the other side of the divide, Middlesex County Republican Chairman Joe Leo sees an opportunity to compete for seats the GOP lost a decade ago.
“We felt with or without him (Joe Vas) it was competitive,” said Leo.
The Republicans will run Peter Kothari, a ward leader in Woodbridge and an acknowledged leader in Central Jersey’s Indo-American community. The chairman said his party is still trying to determine who will run with Kothari.
A committee convention is scheduled for March 28 at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High School.
“Rumors about Vas have been bouncing around for a couple of weeks, especially since the AG’s visit to City Hall in Perth Amboy,” said Leo. “As distressed as we are to hear about corruption, it’s not overwhelming or surprising. Of course, the issue doesn’t go away simply because Vas is not on the ticket.
“But there are any more issues for our candidates than just the culture of corruption,” the chairman added. “We’re looking at how the state’s funding government. We’re looking at people who promised change you can believe in and failed to deliver.”