Councilman Ravi Bhalla: Opting out in Assembly race, declares Carmelo Garcia double dipping at expense of HHA residents “blatant” travesty
From the desk of Councilman Ravi Bhalla:
My decision is driven by yesterday’s refusal by the New Jersey Supreme Court to consider a challenge to Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) Director Carmelo Garcia’s candidacy to serve in the State Assembly, while simultaneously serving as Executive Director of the HHA. As a result, it is not prudent to expend substantial resources in continuing my candidacy now.
At a minimum, Director Garcia’s candidacy is a blatant violation of the spirit of both federal and state laws intended to address the kind of conflict of interest represented by Mr. Garcia’s candidacy. The residents of the HHA are completely dependent on the federal program administered by Mr. Garcia, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the consequences of the conflict of interest created by Mr. Garcia’s candidacy, and ultimately his dual office holding since Mr. Garcia has stated that he intends to retain both positions.
Mr. Garcia holds a highly paid, full-time public position running the Hoboken Housing Authority with a current salary of $157,500, increasing to over $172,500 over the next two years. In addition, he would receive a $49,000 salary as an Assemblyman and receives a $5,000 stipend as an aide to another elected official. Mr. Garcia’s work at Hoboken’s Housing Authority is also extremely challenging. In the last month alone, a methamphetamine lab was discovered in a housing authority apartment and just yesterday, police found 300 bags of heroin at another housing authority apartment.
I (remain) committed to serving the residents of the 33rd Legislative District of New Jersey. However, right now my time and energy is better spent supporting Mayor Zimmer’s initiatives and working towards her re-election this November and that of her City Council slate.
I am grateful to all the residents in Hoboken, the district and elsewhere who have supported my efforts. I look forward to our collective success in the future.