In the face of a North Hudson power coup to force him off the line and short circuit his re-election bid, Hudson County Sheriff Juan Perez won’t admit that he changed his party affiliation.
“It’s an option,” he says.
Hudson sources say the clerk’s office processed Perez’s party shift from Democrat to Republican this morning, on the same day Perez fired the man who is mustering support within the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) to replace him as sheriff: Undersheriff Frank Schillari.
“I can’t comment on that,” Perez tells PolitickerNJ.com, when asked if it’s true that he fired Schillari.
“What I can say,” he adds, “what’s not in question, is I am going to fight. I’m going to run. I have brought the morale of this department up, I have increased pay, and brought this department into the 21st Century. I want to continue for the next three years. I‘m going to run.”
Cut loose in favor of Schillari, Perez ran afoul of the northern centers of power within Hudson County – now the center of gravity in Hudson – who say his sheriff’s officers didn’t patrol the parks and too often strayed into local jurisdictions.
Although on the outs, Perez said he would still run with the HCDO if he could get the organization’s backing, “but so far, nobody has called me.”