For the third time in less than two years a controversial Hudson County Political Action Committee (PAC) is attempting to sway a Paterson election.
The Progressive Values Committee of Bayonne put out a mailer on Saturday supporting three candidates in the seven-person school board race. The group is backing Vincent Arrington, Dania Martinez, and Jeyss Abreu.
Some of the candidates in the race slammed the PAC for injecting itself into the local race.
“Clearly this PAC didn’t do any research on two out of three of candidates,” said incumbent Emanuel Capers referring to Martinez and Abreu. “This team had to promise this PAC that’s out of Bayonne something, but my concern is in past debates and community forums they offered nothing of value that involves student academics and achievements because they just don’t know the issues that our students and teachers face every day.”
Martinez and Abreu struggled in a pair of debates this month. Abreu thought the so-called school-to-prison pipeline was a program.
Abreu faced a backlash on social media for his remark. Neither Martinez nor Abreu knew about the Amistad Law that requires New Jersey schools to incorporate African-American history into their curriculums.
Abreu and Martinez did not respond to calls for comment.
“Saturday night, I saw Vincent Arrington. I told him straight up all the information that’s on that flier you know – the other two have no clue about that,” said former school board member Corey Teague, who is seeking a return to the school board. “They are trying to see if they can put those two in with the strength of Arrington.”
Arrington served an 11-month stint on the school board as a replacement for former school board member Christopher Irving. He lost his seat in last year’s election.
Teague said it’s about controlling five votes on the school board for jobs and contracts. “They don’t want to lose the majority. School board budget is the largest budget in the city. There’s a lot of money to play around with.”
The Progressive Values Committee spent more than $15,000 last November supporting five candidates. It sent out a mailer just before the election to sway voters. Three candidates won, two lost.
Before that the PAC spent almost $138,000 to support then-mayoral candidate Andre Sayegh. Sayegh’s opponents criticized the PAC for its spending.
Joe Waks, chairman of the Progressive Values Committee, did not respond to a message seeking his comments for this story.
“The voters have to make a big decision next Tuesday. This PAC and candidates clearly don’t understand that our kids’ education is on the line, teachers and staff jobs and health benefits are on the line. We have to drop playing political games with our kids’ education,” said Capers.