Congressman Albio Sires endorsed Brian Stack for Senate in the 33rd district today, characterizing the campaign tactics of Silverio “Sal” Vega, his own Commissioner when he was Mayor of West New York, as deplorable.
“In all my years of politics, I haven’t seen tactics — smear, dirty tactics like this — in a long, long time,” said Sires. “My former commissioner, Sal Vega, is responsible for that type of campaign.”
At a press conference held in front of Weehawken’s Municipal Building, Sires joined Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and several Stack-backed candidates to paint the Union City Mayor and Assemblyman as an honorable public servant who devotes his life to the interests of 33rd District residents. Sires and Turner also touted Stack’s success in allocating State Money to the district to build new schools and restore historical sites.
“I remember 20 years ago he was buying groceries for the needy in Union City,” said Sires in his speech. “I remember 15 years ago he was doing peoples’ taxes because he was trying to help them. He has a proven record of service to his community and service to his people.”
In characterizing Stack as a tireless, “24/7” leader always willing to help his constituents, the press conference’s theme can be read as a response to Vega’s recent release of audio tapes in which Stack can be heard offering to help a County Committee candidate Delcia Alexander with finding an apartment and paying her PSE&G bill. Vega claims Stack was bribing some of the County Committee candidates in order to get her to take her name off the ballot. Prior to the speech, Sires told Politicsnj.com that this is normal, laudable behavior for Stack.
“I’ve known him for 25 years. This is Brian Stack. Brian Stack is someone who gives to everyone,” said Sires. “So for them to try to take somebody and to try to say that’s a bribe, it’s just a sleazy campaign.”
While much time during the press conference was devoted to mourning the lack of civility in Hudson County politics, Stack hit back at Vega with some strong words. “He’s only a face,” Stack said of Vega. “I feel sorry for him. He’s only a puppet for the machine in Hudson County.”
But Vega’s campaign kept up the intensity of its attack on Stack’s ethics. Even as Stack was holding his press conference this morning, the HCDO sent out a press release stating that Stack ally Freddy Gomez had been suspended without pay from his job as an investigator on the Hudson County Board of Elections. Gomez allegedly pressured County Committee candidate Angie Espinal, a tenant of his, to drop out of the race, telling her what to write on the affidavit that would formally withdraw her candidacy.