Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres raised $105,125 in a fundraiser at the Brownstone in late July in which he declared his candidacy for re-election as a small band of protesters rallied outside against his early shutdown of recreation programs for young people.
Torres, who is in middle of his third nonconsecutive term as mayor, is bound to have a tough time running for a fourth term, according to political strategists. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is investigating the mayor for allegations he utilized public works employees to handle tasks at his home and brother’s business.
The allegations came to light when NBC New York aired footage captured by a private investigator showing city workers doing work on the mayor’s home and his brother’s liquor establishment.
Half-dozen of those city workers billed taxpayers overtime while working on Torres’ private projects, according to NBC News.
Torres has also alienated many who supported him in the 2014 election. He forced the city’s parade organizers to pay fees for police and public works. Many have yet to forgive Torres for squeezing them for money.
Torres tried to squeeze the same organizers a second time this year. The property revaluation completed at the end of last year left a third of property owners, whose taxes went up, angry at the mayor.
For example, a contingent of homeowners from Garret Heights staged repeated protests against him at city council meetings. He also insulted those homeowners by describing them as free riders who have hitherto avoided paying full taxes.
Torres further infuriated homeowners by attempting to raise more funds from taxpayers by levying a recreation tax. Torres’ recreation tax was badly defeated by voters at the polls while his detractors celebrated.
The mayor’s supporters argue he obviously has a great deal of support as exemplified by the impressive sums of money he’s been able to raise consistently. Torres is hosting yet another fundraiser on Thursday – tickets go for $100.
Though he raised $105,125, he had to refund $8,975 in excessive contributions and pay the Brownstone $67,000 for catering.
Torres raised $426,997 for his 2018 re-election bid. He has spent much of that money leaving him with $68,193, according to his quarterly campaign reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
The 2018 mayoral race is likely to be a crowded one. A number of candidates, who have yet to officially announce with elections two years away, are seeking to oust Torres.
Some of the mayor’s opponents are even hoping for an early election.