North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco and his four running mates formally kicked off their campaign with a rally last night at The Boulevard banquet hall.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Between our committee people and our volunteers, we have gotten over 8,200 petitions signed. That’s unbelievable for that little time, and the number is growing as we speak,” North Bergen Democratic Committee Chair John Belluardo said early on during the hour-long program.
“The first time we met Mr. Wainstein in an election, we received a little over 60 percent of the vote. That’s round one. After today we’re shooting for 80 or more.”
Larry Wainstein is running a ticket for the third consecutive election cycle. He received about 33 percent of the vote in 2015 and then about 31 percent in 2019.
“I’m kind of emotional tonight because I’m wrapping a lot of years in North Bergen. Years that I have loved and would never forget,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Frank Gargiulo, 83, is retiring at the end of his term and will serve as campaign manager instead.
“We cannot sit back. We cannot lay back and watch while someone, until it’s too late. The town has grown tremendously for the last 35 years. The only way for that to go backwards is if something goes wrong in the campaign. By the way, Anthony Vainieri wrote this. So if it sounds screwed up, it’s ’cause I am.”
The chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and the county commissioners, Vainieri will be filling in for Gargiulo this time around.
North Bergen Parking Authority Executive Director Bob Baselice will be running for the county seat he is vacating if victorious.
“Just in the last four years … we put a brand new park on Paterson Plank Road. We renovated the park on 10th Street. We actually put a library with a rec center, a state-of-the-art rec center,” Parks and Public Property Commissioner Hugo Cabrera said to cheers.
“Soon, we’re going to be groundbreaking the 46th Street park. Not only did Mayor Sacco as a senator get us $4.6 million from grants from the state to help us accomplish this, but not we’re ready to go forward and do that.”
He also touted the police department, DPW, and stable taxes as hallmarks of this administration.
Additionally, the second new addition to the Sacco slate, Board of Education Trustee Claudia Rodriguez, vowed to do the best for the community.
In Spanish, she thanked everyone for marking an important occasion and said North Bergen was the best town in New Jersey.
“Where would this town be in the last 40 years if we didn’t have leadership, strong, decisive leadership as we have in Mayor Sacco? It’s been a tough couple years. Mayor Sacco demanded we continue the services, most importantly the resources our residents, our citizens needed during a time when this whole country was at a standstill,” Public Safety Commissioner Allen Pascual said.
“When cities around the country were defunding police, we said hell no, we’re funding police,” he added to applause.
During his remarks, Vainieri went after Wainstein hard, claiming he was “having caviar and champagne up at his $3 million house up in Franklin Lakes” during the COVID-19 pandemic while North Bergen officials were rolling out testing and vaccine sites.
“My ass he loves North Bergen. Send him back to Franklin Lakes and never come back to our border,” he added.
Revenue and Finance Commissioner Julio Marenco, who is running for a state Assembly seat in the 33rd Legislative District instead of seeking another term, said the township would be luck to see Sacco as mayor for another 30 years.
Baselice also acknowledged that he’d be running for office in the June 6th primary.
“Everywhere you go, there are things happening. I have to follow in someone’s shoes, big shoes. They call him the ‘park king.’ I do park-ing,” he joked.
Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari and county executive candidate Craig Guy, the chief of staff to outgoing County Exec Tom DeGise, also praised Sacco’s leadership, as did U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8).
“He is committed to making North Bergen the best version of itself that it can be. We can’t take these moments for granted. This room has to come back even harder to send a clear message that this is the man who is right for North Bergen!,” Menendez exclaimed.
Sacco praised volunteers and county committee members for gathering petitions.
“We polled the town and asked them how they we did on the pandemic. The response was at least 85 percent good and excellent. The only people who had anything negative to say cross-referenced Wainstein,” Sacco proclaimed, praising North Bergen Business Administrator Janet Castro (formerly the health officer) for her work during the pandemic.
“We worked hard. We got people testing sites. We got mobile testing sites, immunizations. When people need a township goverment and need help, each one of you were there to help. That’s what makes this organization so vibrant.”
He noted many classes are held at the new library, where many community services are based.
“Some might call me the captain of the team. I’m actually just another player that’s here to make sure we succeed. I thank you. Let’s go out and wipe this person out. Remember where has during the pandemic, hiding,” Sacco said.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, East Newark Mayor Dina Grilo, Kearny Mayor Al Santos, Harrison Mayor James Fife, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, and County Commissioners Yraida Aponte-Lipski (D-4) and Anthony Romano (D-5).
The non-partisan North Bergen municipal elections are on May 9th, where Sacco, first elected commissioner in 1985 and mayor since 1991, will seek his 11th term in municipal office.E