CLARK, NJ — Mayor Sal Bonaccorso claimed on Saturday that Clark was one of the largest Trump supporting towns in New Jersey, amidst a rally which drew Trump fanatics from across the state.
Nancy Sheridan, Clark Democratic Committee Chair sees it differently. “Mayor Bonaccorso doesn’t represent the whole of Clark by any means,” she said.
Gathered in the parking lot of Arthur L. Johnson High School, Bonaccorso addressed around a hundred Trump supporters about to hit the highway for the “MAGA Drag the Interstate Rally.” Cars held large Trump and American flags, and on some vehicles, pictures of the President himself.
“Twenty years we’ve had it red,” Bonaccorso said, referring to the town’s Republican voting habits. “One of the biggest Trump supporting towns in New Jersey. We love America, we are patriots here and we're proud to stand behind our president.”
Sheridan said, “People who don’t support the President, are American too, they love this country too.” She continued, “Somehow Trump supporters think you are only a patriot of this country if you are for Trump which is untrue.”
Bonaccorso, a Republican, has been an incumbent since 2000. Clark has voted for Republican presidential candidates since 2004, according to available state election archives. Archives do not show individual municipality votes prior to 2004.
The crowd, decked out in Trump apparel, with very few masks and scarce social distancing cheered and broke into chants of “we love you Trump,” recited the pledge of allegiance and held a prayer hoping Trump be cured of the coronavirus.
Supporters were also confident Trump could win the election come November, despite his recent hospitalization and lagging poll numbers.
“How’s Sleepy Joe gonna feel when he gets his ass kicked from a guy who's gonna be lying in a hospital bed for five days?” Bonaccorso asked the lively crowd.
Bonaccorso also shared his affinity for law enforcement, drawing on a national debate over policing, promising to keep steady funding for the Clark Police Department.
“Twenty years as mayor we never defunded one dollar [from police],” he said, though police funding has fluctuated over the years. “And for the next 20 years we won’t defund one dollar.”
John Victor Jacobson, a Democratic candidate running for town council this election cycle, went to check out the event. He said Bonaccorso, through his comments, implied that if given the chance Democrats would change police funding. “It’s not true, we (he and his running mates Natalie and Charles Bassinski) would never defund the police either,” Jacobson said.
“I’ve always been a law and order kind of guy, we need them (police) now more than ever,” he said. “I consider many of Clark’s finest to be my friends. They are responsible, respectful and respond to so much activity in our town.”
Sheridan weighed in on the topic too. "We are not in favor of defunding the police, nor if elected have any plans to do so," she said. "Unfortunately, a recent mailing by the Bonaccorso team totally misrepresents our position on this. It is regrettable that they feel that they have to rely on such distortions."
Supporters at the rally said they came to Clark from across the state — ranging from Bergen to Ocean County — united by their loyalty to the President.
“You have to stand up for what you believe in,” said Kristen Collver, who drove from Forked River to attend the event. Standing in front of her car decorated with Trump flags and wearing a scarf reading “God Bless Trump” she added: “We’ve been the silent majority for a long time. We need to stand up and support our president.”
A Democrat in the crowd, who wished to remain anonymous said, “it is frustrating to see the mayor of our town speak like he represents what everyone in Clark thinks. The truth is he doesn’t, and it seems like this rally is a personal agenda for him.”
Mayor Bonaccorso told TAPInto Clark he invited the rally to Clark after meeting event organizers a few weeks ago.
In response to Bonaccorso inviting the Trump rally to town hall, Sheridan said, “It’s municipal property being used for political purposes,” said Sheridan. “It’s not illegal but it certainly isn't fair to those residents that don’t support Trump, he (Bonaccorso) doesn’t represent the views of all Clark residents.”
During the event, an organizer announced on the scene that there would be another rally in two weeks at the same location, which the Mayor instantly said he would attend.
“See you here in two weeks," he said to cheers. “Let's get a big win in November.”