Cosmo Cirillo will run for Mayor of West New York next year, setting up a fierce battle with Rep. Albio Sires, who retired this year after sixteen years in Congress and wants to return to the job he held from 1995 to 2006.
“When our current team of Commissioners ran four years ago, we ran on a slogan of ‘New Beginnings” for our town, yet here we are at a critical crossroads where we can choose to move backwards or stand together and move West New York in a positive and promising direction forward,” Cirillo, a two-term town commissioner said in an announcement video.
Former two-term Mayor Felix Roque told the New Jersey Globe that he might also enter the May 2023 nonpartisan race.
“I’m contemplating it very, very strongly, “ he said.
Sires announced in December that would leave Congress and said in June that he expected to run for mayor of his hometown of nearly 53,000 people.
“I’m getting enthused. I’m getting energetic,” Sires said “People in the community are very enthused. It’s comforting that they feel that way.”
The incumbent mayor, Gabriel Rodriguez, is not seeking re-election and is expected to run for the State Assembly on a ticket with State Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-Union City) and Julio Marenco, a North Bergen town commissioner.
The current assemblywoman from West New York, Angelica Jimenez, is considered a likely candidate for town commissioner on Cirillo’s ticket, the New Jersey Globe has learned. Another incumbent commissioner, Margarita Guzman, is also expected to run with Cirillo.
Sires told the New Jersey Globe he won’t make any official announcement until after his term in Congress is over on January 3, 2023.
“If he wants to run, I can’t stop him. It’s fine,” Sires said of Cirillo. “I’ve got my slate all put together, without him.”
But Sires slammed Cirillo for his role as one of the five Democrats on the Legislative Apportionment Commission. The new map put Stack and nine-term State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, the mayor of North Bergen, into the same district; soon after the map was approved, Sacco announced that he would not seek re-election to the Senate and endorsed Stack.
“Cosmo didn’t do a good job and we lost the Senate seat,” Sires said of Cirillo, who was Sacco’s pick for the panel. “Your job is to protect your turf.”
In his announcement video, Cirillo pointed to his West New York roots and his accomplishments since becoming a commissioner in 2015 at age 27.
“As someone who has grown up here, went to school here, and spent my entire life in town, I am extremely proud of the work I have been able to accomplish such as expanding and improving recreational activities for our residents, starting a brand new tutoring program at the library, maintaining strong rent control regulations, having my office assist a countless amount of residents with rental assistance during the pandemic and feeding thousands of families every summer through our Recreation Food Program,” Cirillo said. “I am also happy to have assisted in the implementation of upgraded parks and fields, a plan for three brand new and much needed parking decks throughout town (the first of which is scheduled for completion within the next month) and other improvements around West New York”
Hinting at the need for a generational change – Sires turns 72 next month – Cirillo said that “West New York needs and deserves a mayor that is willing to put in the hard work, effort and time, that will be available and accessible to listen to and address the concerns of our community and understand the issues our residents face on a daily basis and also work day and night to be a true servant for our community.”
Roque, who lost to a Sires-backed ticket headed by Cirillo and Rodriguez in 2019, was critical of the job performance by the current town commissioners.
“I’ve seen what’s happening in town. It’s in full decay. Crime is the highest in the county. It’s because of poor leadership,” Roque stated. “When I see something broken, I have to fix it.”
He suggested that Rodriguez has been largely an absentee mayor.
“Nobody knows who the mayor is,” he said. “They still think it’s me. I have to correct them.”
Cirillo said he will announce his slate over the coming weeks.
In West New York, voters elect five town commissioners every four years; after the election, the commissioners determine who will serve as mayor.