North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco and his re-election team dropped off over 52,000 petitions for nomination ahead of Monday’s deadline for candidates seeking office in the May 14th municipal elections.
The Sacco Team, which has all five incumbents seeking another term, has collected 10,492 signed nominating petitions in all, adding to a total count of 52,460 signatures between its five candidates, a breathtaking total that has never before been seen in the municipality known for spirited local elections.
For the time being, this marks the most petitions ever submitted in a North Bergen municipal election and the campaign will continue to collect additional signatures until the filing deadline on Monday, they said during a media event earlier today.
During the unveiling of the petitions, Sacco first noted the hard work by volunteers working during cold nights and inclement weather.
“For those of you who went out to collect petitions, you know what it was like. The weather was tough, it was cold, we had snow and rain. It’s not an easy job because it’s not just one petition, but five petitions because there are five commissioners and each one has to be signed individually,” began Sacco.
“So you when you go to a door, it takes quite a long time. It was a tough, tough thing to do. But apparently the people were responsive. If the people aren’t responsive, you’re not getting the signatures.”
He then highlighted the initiatives and efforts he and his administration have recently been taking to improve public safety, diversify the police force, expand recreational opportunities for the township’s youth, increasing the number of cultural activities around town as well as crediting individual agencies for their hard work.
“The [Department of Public Works] does an incredible job. North Bergen is the second hilliest city in the nation, after San Francisco. If you look at us, we’re on a plateau. To keep the streets clean, to remove the snow, is a phenomenal job,” he added.
“And in the Public Affairs department, we’re taking care of the needy and taking care of the Latino population. If you go to our office, every office has people who are Latino and Latina and they can speak to anyone in town.”
During the Q&A part of the press conference, we asked Sacco if he was at all concerned that voters would be influenced by a series of reports by the NBC I-Team that alleged instances of corruption in his administration – despite the record breaking number of petitions signed.
“It didn’t at all. They came out, they did their attack. I think the attack was completely unfair and biased. I felt they were working for people who are real criminals, and they’re working with people who are really criminals, but we polled and monitored what was going on and we didn’t see any slippage anywhere in town,” Sacco said.
“You can say certain things about us, but the people here know that if they have children and they want to go into a recreation program, there is a menu of things to do.”
The mayor and his running mates just launched their first political advertisement this week, and in an interview after the press conference, we asked the Mayor what message was important to convey to an audience.
“We were answering things that [the opposition] had always said … that we don’t care about the children or nobody speaks Spanish at Town Hall, but it’s all lies. What we did is to show people what our platform is. 60 of our police force is Latino.”
“We have Arabics in the police department and people of Indian descent, and because of a residency requirement we get people living in town taking the test, and they stay here in town. Our police chief lives here in town, and that makes our community stronger,” said Sacco.
Perennial Sacco foe Larry Wainstein announced his candidacy in October and is yet to announce his running mates, though he has until Monday, March 11th, at 4 p.m. to do so.
The press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: