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West New York Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez slate takes office

Murphy, top Hudson Dems attend inauguration

By Nikita Biryukov, May 21 2019 8:06 pm

West New York is under new management.

Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez and his slate of commissioners were sworn in surrounded by Hudson County dignitaries and more than 300 residents Tuesday, officially marking the end of a feud between the New Beginnings West New York Slate and now-former Mayor Felix Roque.

“Ladies and gentlemen, be proud,” Rodriguez told the crowd. “Be proud of yourselves. Enjoy it. Savor it. Sometimes, and maybe more than just sometimes, hard work does pay off, and this is one of those times.”

The contest between Roque and his county-backed challengers was an extension of last year’s Hudson County warette, which saw factions within the county pitted against one another in bids to secure the county’s Democratic chairmanship.

In that fight, Roque sided with Union City Mayor and State Sen. Brian Stack. Rodriguez and Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Margarita Guzman, who were both re-elected last week and sworn in Tuesday, sided with Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, as did Rep. Albio Sires, a former West New York mayor.

DeGise’s faction won that fight, and Amy DeGise became the first woman to chair the Hudson County Democratic Committee.

Since then, most of the politicos involved have reconciled their differences and returned to the fold, but the extent of Roque’s feud with Sires — the now-former mayor called for the congressman to retire last year — left Roque out in the cold.

Gov. Phil Murphy made a brief appearance at the start of the inauguration, praising the slate and its mayor.

“This is a day of renewal, a day of new beginnings. This is about the future, and you could not have better leadership going into that future than your next mayor, Gabe Rodriguez, and those four extraordinary commissioners,” Murphy said. “God bless them. They will do the work that you need them to do. They will help us build that stronger and fairer New Jersey by building a stronger and fairer West New York in Hudson County.”

The governor didn’t swear anyone in, but the commissioners weren’t left wanting in that regard.

Assemblyman Pedro Mejia and Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez swore in Commissioner Yoleisy Yanez.

Commissioner Victor Barrera, the other political newcomer taking office, was sworn in by Hudson County Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez.

Amy DeGise swore in Guzman, and former West New York Mayor Sal Vega, a frequent target of Roque during the latter’s tenure, swore in Cirillo.

Despite his name serving as an applause line for each of the five officials taking office, Sires couldn’t make it to the event — he had business in Washington — but, his wife, school board member Adrienne Sires,  swore in the new mayor.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article referred to Adrienne Sires as the congressman’s daughter. She is not.

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