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Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Sires will run for mayor of West New York in 2023

Rodriguez is headed to State Assembly

By David Wildstein, June 03 2022 5:46 pm

Rep. Albio Sires is expected to run for mayor of West New York next year, marking a return the job he held for eleven years before his election to Congress in 2006.

The current mayor, Gabe Rodriguez, will instead seek the Democratic nomination for State Assembly in a newly-drawn Hudson County legislative district next year.  He’ll replace Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-West New York).

“I’m going to really consider running,” Sires told the New Jersey Globe.  “It’s a great place to end my years of service.”

The 71-year-old Sires is not seeking re-election to Congress this year.

Rodriguez will have the backing of Sires, State Sen. Brian P. Stack, the mayor of Union City, and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner.

“For Gabe, it’s a good move,” Sires said.  “He worked for me when I was in the Assembly and he always wanted that.”

Legislative redistricting put Stack and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco into the same district.  Sacco announced in February that he would not seek re-election to the State Senate seat he’s held for 30 years and instead would run for another term as mayor of North Bergen.

North Bergen will get the other Assembly seat in the 33rd district.  Commissioner Julio Marenco, a U.S. Navy submarine veteran and State Parole Board member, is the leading candidate.

That means Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (D-Secaucus) will lose his seat.

West New York will hold a non-partisan municipal election in May 2023 and Sires will need to win one of five town commissioner seats to launch his return to the mayoralty.

Sires won a special House election in 2006 after Bob Menendez was appointed to the U.S. Senate.  He had served as Speaker of the New Jersey State Assembly for four years.

Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez, is the leading candidate to succeed Sires in New Jersey’s 8th district.

Sires won 74% on the vote in 2020 in a district that went from Joe Biden by a 73%-36% margin.

This will mark the continuation of a hugely successful, albeit unlikely, political career for Sires, who emigrated from Cuba at age 11 and later became a high school teacher and coach in his hometown of West New York.

Sires spent several years as a local political gadfly and won 27% as the Republican candidate for Congress in the same district in 1986 against the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Frank Guarini (D-Jersey City).  He lost a bid for Hudson County Freeholder as a Republican in 1986, and bids for local office in West New York.

In 1993, Sires led a campaign to recall West New York Mayor Anthony DeFino.  Voters recalled DeFino while simultaneously re-electing him.  When DeFino left office two years later, Sires was the easy winner.

Sires became the ultimate insider: he switched parties, backed Republican Governor Christie Whitman in 1997, seized an Assembly seat in 1999 – he defeated incumbent Louis Romano (D-West New York) in the Democratic primary by nearly 10,000 votes — became Speaker two years later when Gov. James E. McGreevey wanted to dump Joseph V. Doria (D-Bayonne), and then went to Congress in 2006.

In the Democratic primary, he defeated Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas by a 72%-28% margin.  He won the general election by a 78%-19% margin against Republican John Guarini, a cousin of the former congressman.

Sires dispatched a primary challenge from progressive Hector Oseguera by a 70%-27% margin in 2020.

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