BERGENFIELD, NJ — An eleventh-hour attack on his character by the opponent did not stop this Filipino-American from becoming the next mayor of Bergenfield on the November 5th election.
Democratic council president Arvin Amatorio unseated the incumbent Republican mayor of six years, Norman Schmelz, by at least 166 votes.
Amatorio is the second Filipino-American to win as mayor of this borough – home to more than 5,000 Filipinos, about 20 percent of the town population.
“This is a great night for Bergenfield because of you… despite the malicious attack, despite the negativity that has been thrown to us we kept the fight positive,” says Amatorio.
Just four days before Tuesday’s elections, Schmelz’ camp sent out a press release alleging that Amatorio is guilty of violating the trafficking victims protection act of 2013 — in a case that involved a Filipino physical therapist.
There was no guilty verdict in the case, and it was simply a motion to add Amatorio’s name as defendant because he happened to be the immigration lawyer for the alleged victim.
Another false claim by his opponent’s camp was that Amatorio did not attend a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, and therefore is not licensed to practice law in New Jersey.
“I’m very happy people did not believe those lies and it’s a vindication that all those things that were thrown against me are not true.”
The first-ever Fil-Am mayor of Bergenfield Robert Rivas said, he too was a victim of false accusations in his 2003 re-election bid – he was accused as favoring Filipinos and that he was going to bring Filipino police from the Philippines to patrol Bergenfield — accusations he denied.
“We’ll have the good people remain in control; not these racist, miserable, sad people who tried to win elections by tearing down the other side.”
Fil-Am Salvador Deauna was also re-elected as councilman Tuesday night with more than 3,000 votes.
“My first term was a learning process for me, this is the second term that I will try to work harder.”
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy tweeted his congratulations to the newly elected mayor of Bergenfield.
Amatorio begins his work as mayor in January.