Hackensack Councilwoman Deborah Keeling-Geddis is challenging incumbent Mayor John Labrosse and his team in the city’s May municipal election. Last week, Labrosse’s team and another slate — known as Hackensack United for Progress — sparred over claims that Labrosse had improperly used city funds to mail out campaign-style flyers. While Labrosse and his team denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the flyers were appropriate and related to city projects, Keeling-Geddis’s team (Hackensack Strong) has renewed criticism of the mailers.
On Wednesday, Keeling-Geddis issued a statement asking for the removal of the flyers from the Hackensack website.
“The so-called newsletters are out of date, contain misleading information and are nothing more than political propaganda paid for by the taxpayers of this city to benefit the re-election campaign of the mayor and deputy mayor,” said Keeling-Geddis in a statement.
While Keeling-Geddis is not a part of the slate who raised issue with the flyers last week and filed a complaint with the Bergen County Prosecutor and the New Jersey Attorney General on the matter, the councilwoman addressed the mayor and council in February with concerns over the “impropriety” of the mailing. She is now demanding that the Labrosse team pay the $50,000 cost of the mailers from campaign funds, not taxpayer funds.
In her statement, Keeling-Geddis also raised concerns over the Labrosse team’s hiring of Vision Media for the re-election campaign, the same company that produced the mailers in question. In previous statements to the press, Labrosse spokesman Phil Swibinski of Vision Media has denied improper conduct.
The mayor’s team includes Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, Councilman Leo Battaglia, Councilman David Sims, and council candidate Stephanie Von Rudenborg. Hackensack Strong includes Richard Cerbo, David Dungey, Angelica Carfi-Meneses and Rafael A. Del Rosario. Hackensack United for Progress includes candidates Lara Rodriguez, Jason Some, Michael Williams, Carlos Merino and Rommy Buttaf.
UPDATE- Labrosse spokesman Phil Swibinski issued the following statement following the publication of this article:
“Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse and his City Council team believe it would be a serious mistake to remove four highly informative official city newsletters from the city website. The newsletters were prepared by Vision Media Marketing Inc. on behalf of the city as party of a citywide public information campaign.
None of the newsletters make any reference to any election, any candidates for office or contain any mention of any political issue. They all deal exclusively with legitimate city issues such as the dramatically improved state of city finances, the major investments being made in city recreation facilities and the Downtown Redevelopment initiatives that are revitalizing Hackensack.
Councilwoman Keeling-Geddis is simply trying to manufacture an issue to prop up her campaign and gain media attention — there is no substance to her allegations of impropriety. The Labrosse Team is focused on communicating its record of lowering taxes, delivering honest government and preventing the Zisa machine from retaking control of Hackensack.”