Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) swore in former Freeholder E. Junior Maldonado as the new Hudson County Clerk yesterday, also where Jerry Walker (D-3) and Joel Torres (D-4) formally joined the board of chosen freeholders.
“I’m incredibly humbled to be here with you. It’s a treat and this is one that is not by accident. Hudson County is a place, where as it goes, so goes the State of New Jersey,” Murphy said to applause at the freeholder chambers in Jersey City.
“It’s a place that I was a whole lot over the last several years, I intend to be here a whole lot over the next several years … and I want you to know I’m not gonna be a governor that’s just here when I need you, but I’m gonna be here when you need me.”
After being sworn in, Maldonado recalled the 30-year anniversary of a “rebirth” in his life, where he battled back from a blood clot inside his brain.
“I had an incident where they found a blood clot on the side of my head, inside my brain, that was the size of a grapefruit. Doctors kept saying it was an ear infection until finally when they did a CAT scan, they found it,” he recalled.
“It was humbling and terrifying to sit there and listen to this neurosurgeon who walked into the room and said to me ‘are you Mr. Maldonado?’ And I said ‘yes I am’ and he said ‘well, I’m the doctor whose gonna try to save your life today.'”
Maldonado continued that the operation did not go smoothly, leaving him temporarily paralyzed on the right side of his body, leading to a years-long rehabilitation process. Looking back, he embraces the experience as a life lesson.
“You know what? I fought back because I had a passion, a desire, a commitment and dedication to life. And you know what? Today, I bring you that passion, that dedication, and that commitment as your county clerk.”
Maldonado wasn’t the only one in the room who gave an emotional speech, as West New York Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez broke down in tears when recalling that her infant granddaughter is now a cancer survivor.
Additionally, Walker, a former Seton Hall basketball star who runs the Jersey City-based non-profit Team Walker, was sworn in by former Gov. Richard Codey (D) – who joked that he thought you had to live in Jersey City to run for mayor of Jersey City (Walker unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2013).
In his public remarks, Walker got straight to the point.
“I’m looking forward to making Hudson County the best place, District 3 in particularly [sic], bringing resources back in town and I’m gonna try on capitalize on my relationships with people abroad and in the state just to make Jersey City a better place to live and improve the quality of life,” Walker stated.
Furthermore, Torres, the president of the Jersey City Board of Education last year who was sworn in by Mayor Steven Fulop, is replacing Maldonado on the freeholder board.
Also a protege of state Senator (D-32)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Torres said he is committed to continuing to deliver as a public servant.
“To my friends, to my family, to everyone who’s here: I will not let you down, I will continue to serve as the same way that I’ve served over the past three years on the school board and throughout my entire term as a community activist.”