PASSAIC – Two mayoral candidates here say it’s hard for one of their rivals, Vincent Capuana, to be a change agent when a former councilman, who pleaded guilty to corruption, continues to volunteer for Capuana’s campaign Marcellus Jackson left the council last year after admitting that he took bribes from federal agents posing as members of an insurance firm.
On Thursday night, he worked the door collecting money as a volunteer at a Capuana fundraiser.
“Twenty years of friendship are 20 years of friendship,” said Capuana campaign manager Jose Alex Ybarra. “Loyalty is very big with many of us.”
Candidates Alex Blanco and Carl Ellen objected.
“They were with him since the day he decided to run for mayor and he doesn’t care,” Blanco said. “How can he talk about change and integrity?”
“Sammy Rivera (Passaic’s mayor, who was jailed earlier this year after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges) and Marcellus Jackson have been backing Vinny Capuana, and this sends up a red flag,” said Ellen. “These are people who are trying to protect their positions, and it definitely raises eyebrows.”
Ybarra immediately hit back at Ellen.
“I object to Ellen running, given his federal drug charges a few decades ago,” he said. Ellen told PolitickerNJ.com that he never looked back after the trouble he got into as a young man, and is proud of his career as a local successful businessman of integrity.
Councilman Joe Garcia, who served with Jackson on the council, wouldn’t respond to the news that Jackson is playing a role in Capuana’s campaign.
“I don’t want to make a comment,” he said. “I’m just walking and talking to people. I don’t listen to what anyone else says. I just continue to campaign.”
A fifth candidate, Jose Sandoval, was not available for comment.