Eyeing North Bergen seat, Vainieri resigns as Hudson commissioners chair during 7th term


Eyeing a seat on the North Bergen Board of Commissioners, Hudson County Board of Commissioners Chair Anthony Vainieri resigned today in the midst of his seventh term in the leadership post.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“As you know, I opted not to run for the county commissioner [this year], I’m running in the Township of North Bergen: in the town where I grew up in, the town that I love, where I went to school, the town where I have my business, the town where I played on the streets, and the town that I have a love for,” Vainieri said from the dais.

“That’s my passion, everybody knows that. This was a jump start for me in the county to get myself out there and let people know that I’m for real and government business comes first. And then I play. I play really good. But I made a lot of friends here. A lot of friends. I think friends that’ll be for life.”

Vainieri is just one of two to be elected by his peers as the chairman for seven terms in a row, tying Sal Vega – also a former West New York mayor and state assemblyman – who held the same post between 1999 and 2006 back when they were still freeholders.

North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco announced Vainieri as one of his running mates in February, as HCV first reported, in a move that was widely expected among insiders.

Also the chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Vainieri will now be on the ballot in the non-partisan North Bergen municipal elections on May 9th, as opposed to the June 6th Democratic primary for county candidates.

He cited the revitalization of James J. Braddock Park, upgrading the equipment/lab at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and establishing the first Hudson County Regional SWAT team as accomplishments he was proud of.

Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez (D-7) broke out in tears during her remarks, prompting the chairman to say “Cary, I’m not dying.”

Nevertheless, she couldn’t hold back her emotion, saying through tears that she appreciated his guidance and friendship, as well as what he’s done with Braddock Park, noting that it’s a block-and-a-half from her daughter’s house and her grandchildren love to play there.

County Commissioner Jerry Walker (D-3) said he appreciated Vainieri’s steadfast leadership during the tumultuous fight with progressive activists over their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2020, noting that he never backed down despite nine hours of public comment against the deal.

He also joked that he was going to North Bergen since “he don’t have that much patience … their meetings go for five, 10 minutes.”

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said he also appreciated what Vainieri did during the ICE “debacle” as he called it, recalling that the issue led to protesters outside his home in the Jersey City Heights.

He also credited the commissioners’ efforts during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the USS Juneau site in Kearny was utilized for testing and later vaccinations, further stating that they managed to keep the county up and running the whole time.

“Nobody else had ever had that challenge in front of them. And between my office and the freeholder board, with Chairman Vainieri, we fought that back. It’s still out there: I spoke to [Deputy County Administrator] Dave Drumeler today, they’re still there three days a week at the Juneau Center,” DeGise said.

“The Juneau Center was a building with holes in the roof before we were able to do it.”

DeGise presented Vainieri with a proclamation for his service, while Hudson County Commissioners Clerk Al Santos, also the Kearny mayor who is being considered for a superior court judgeship, presented him with a gavel as a souvenir.

“We’ll miss his friendship, his sense of humor, and sometimes even his out of control behavior,” DeGise also said.

Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), who said he was proud to call Vainieri a friend, will now serve as the acting chair of the board, most likely through the end of the year.

Bob Baselice, the executive director of the North Bergen Parking Authority who is running with the HCDO’s blessing to succeed Vainieri, is essentially a lock to get appointed to Vainieri’s vacant seat by the Democratic committee members of the 8th District.

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