Wes Bell’s “Wacky” Gubernatorial Bid…

Wes Bell, a guy who was recalled from office as mayor of Stafford in the 1980’s for corruption, is now running an anti-corruption campaign for governor of New Jersey. Yeah, that makes sense…

From the Press of Atlantic City:

It’s hard to take Wes Bell seriously, but he demands it. He demands you take not only him seriously - but his run for governor, too.

“When I first ran for mayor (of Stafford) people laughed, and after I won, well …” Bell said Friday.

“If they ever want New Jersey straightened out, it’s going to take a guy like me to do it. Who’s a guy like me? There are no others. There are a few people that have some of my traits but not many. I’m a no-nonsense guy.”

Bell is one of the eight candidates who are challenging the Republican and Democratic Party candidates for governor.

He is in the same company as the Socialists, the Libertarians, and a man from Pemberton who, with a platform devoted to marijuana legalization, goes by the name “N.J. Weedman.”

These candidates normally garner little electoral support, the majority going to the Republicans or Democrats. But Bell is not running to make a point. “I’m running,” he said, “to win.”

“I feel I can do the best job that any governor has ever done in the history of the state,” Bell said. “I’m going to shake up Trenton. I’m going to get rid of the political hacks and the unnecessary departments and cut the budget.

“Think about it,” he said, and he laid out the scenario by which he says he will become the next governor of New Jersey.

“If you’re from North Jersey and you don’t like (Republican Doug Forrester or Democrat Jon Corzine), you have to look at the independents … if you pick one, you’re going to pick the most qualified. That’s me …”

Still, the skeptic finds it hard to believe. Bell has no full-time staff, but only a smattering of volunteers. He’s spent, by his own admission, less than $10,000 on his campaign.

Does he really think he can win?

Absolutely, he says, and anyone who knows the man from Manahawkin, wouldn’t be surprised.

Bell served on the township’s governing body, then a township committee, from 1970 to 1975 and 1978 to 1982. He was mayor in 1972, 1975 and 1980-81. He won the mayoral seat in the 1982 mayor-council election. Bell held the post until he was recalled from office in December 1983 amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

Through the years, Bell, now 68, has gotten something of a reputation for wackiness. He’s run against Stafford Mayor Carl Block a total of six times since being recalled from his mayoralty. He’s lost every time.

He holds a U.S. patent for the methodology and equipment associated with a proprietary way of salvaging sunken yachts and other vessels.

“It’s not a wacky thing,” he insists, “otherwise I wouldn’t have got a patent. The patent people are very excited about what I’ve come up with.”

He insists he formulated a solution partly responsible for averting a natural disaster some years back in the Gulf of Mexico. An oil well was leaking oil into the gulf, and he said he came up with a way of capping it.

“I mailed Red Adair, the guy who capped it, and they took my idea. I got nothing. If I had waited for my patent they would have had the Gulf of Mexico polluted. They couldn’t stop it.”

That idea is only one among a trove of ideas. “I have a lot of ideas for patents that I didn’t get and someone else did get. I have a file I’m not going to tell you what they are.”

Why?

“Because they’re not patented yet.”

Bell has made a living of living outside the mainstream, doing things most people would not even consider.

“When I ran the town (of Stafford) if someone did something improper, I fired him. There should be no corruption in government and New Jersey is the most corrupt state around,” he says.

“I fired the chief of police. I fired the municipal court judge. The municipal court clerk. The chief of police’s secretary. I fired two building inspectors, two zoning officers.

“If you’re going to do a job, you got to get rid of the people who are no good,” Bell adds. “And I’m guy to do that. I’m the guy to clean house.”

Besides, he insists, they all deserved it. (Everyone he fired, that is.)

It’s easy to misjudge Bell. But there’s intelligence behind his assertions, conspiracy theories and related adventures. You just have to take the time to see it, and, perhaps initially reserve judgment.

For in the very same breath that he says of his plans for election night. “I can’t say for sure. My wife may want to go to Atlantic City,” he turns around and lays out an array of figures and bureaucratic details that would be the envy of any Trenton policy wonk.

Bell is not a millionaire. He said as much. But he’s been quite successful in his business dealings.

He owns a billboard sign business called Wes Outdoor Advertising - his father began the company - that once had more than 150 billboards around the state. The rent from just one for a month can run upwards of $20,000.

He does not have a college education: “Barnegat High School grad,” he says.

Despite his recent political losses, Bell has an extensive - if chronologically distant - history of success.

So who knows? Maybe this quixotic run for governor is just another example of Bell knowing something that others don’t.

One Response to “Wes Bell’s “Wacky” Gubernatorial Bid…”

  1. esso Says:

    Haha! What a character. I wonder who he’s married to? lol