WEST NEW YORK – Behind his desk inside West New York Mayor Felix Roque’s campaign headquarters at the corner of Palisades Avenue and 54th Street, Pablo Fonseca sat serenely, issuing orders yet remaining calm, even with reports of bloodshed on Election Day. Maybe Fonseca’s level state had to do with what he called “his lucky shirt.”
“I’ve never lost an election since I wore this shirt,” said Fonseca, describing a blue, short-sleeved shirt with white letters stitched over his heart saying ‘Booker 2006,’ a remembrance of the work the veteran political operative did for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). “Now, I can’t lose today.”
Whether or not Fonseca will win or lose today depends less on luck than on a disciplined get-out-the-vote organization, which was in evidence on Tuesday as waves of red-shirted workers, emblazoned with the name of Roque’s Column C slate, moved in and out of headquarters like a steady red tide, trying to foul the chances of Roque’s rival, Commissioner Count Wiley.
After the 1 p.m. bell rang in West New York schools designating a half day, students and teachers alike came in to volunteer.
“You know it like you’re blind! You’ve been working it for four months!” Fonseca exclaimed as he sent out a crew of just-dismissed students for the day from West New York’s Memorial High School to work their designated districts.
Fonseca noted that he had about 250 volunteers on the ground from West New York, along with another 100 volunteers he brought from Newark. Fonseca also noted that other groups are scheduled to come from neighboring Hudson County communities in groups of approximately 25 to 50 people as the clock ticked closer to the 8 p.m. poll closure.
Shawn “Sully” Thomas-Sullivan, the chairman of the Jersey City Democratic Organization (JCDO) and an ally of Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, came in with a crew of about half a dozen volunteers, including Fulop aide Phil Orphanidis.
“We’re supporting the Democratic process and continuing to build up the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO),” said Thomas-Sullivan. “We stick together and help each other out through municipal elections.”
An even more familiar face for Fonseca was seen throughout the day in Roque headquarters.
“When Pablo asked me to come out and help Felix, I jumped at the chance,” said former Newark Councilman Hector Corchado, a member of the Latino Political Action Committee (PAC), a group that promotes Latino political involvement and Latino candidates, as he sported a dark suit and dark mirrored sunglasses. “Despite the negative incident we had today involving the mayor’s son, Ive been walking around with Mayor Roque, and you can tell the people feel good about him.”
As for Fonseca, he shrugged off the alleged assault of Roque’s son, Joseph, by Wiley this morning, while Roque’s opponent filed counter-charges of assault against the younger Roque.
Instead, Fonseca just kept working.
“Don’t come back here unless you get 247 votes out of that district!” Fonseca yelled at a young volunteer. “And don’t show up to the party tonight either!”