North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco and his slate of incumbent commissioners were sworn in early Tuesday afternoon.
The ceremony on the steps of North Bergen’s township hall featured heavy praise of Sacco, who was elected to his tenth term on the township commission last week.
“He’s crazy, but that craziness makes something special about him and about what the community’s about. These things don’t just happen,” Commissioner Frank Gargiulo said. “When I got involved here, I guess it was 35 or 38 years ago, the town was hurting in every aspect — I could tell you, but I don’t want to repeat all the pieces — and we needed someone with great leadership ability and with great vision, because without those two things, we’re back to where we were … I know a lot of people say great things about [Sacco], but he deserves every single piece of it.”
Last Tuesday, Sacco and his slate of incumbents scored a landslide win against repeat challenger Larry Wainstein, a local businessman who unsuccessfully challenged Sacco in 2015.
Sacco beat Wainstein 69%-31%, topping his performance four years prior, when he beat Wainstein 66%-44%.
“It’s hard because he’s got North Bergen on the brain 24/7, and everybody else is normal,” Commissioner Julio Marenco said. “So, he’ll call you mid-sentence and be like ‘this is going on.’ The music at the club can be bumping, or anybody can be going ‘you have Mayor Sacco waiting’ … but that’s the cheap price that the North Bergen residents get. They get a 24/7 server at all times.”
The commissioners unanimously re-appointed Sacco to the town’s mayorship following the swearing-in ceremony, which briefly interrupted by bustling traffic on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, fire engines departing from the fire house across the street and church bells.
Hudson County Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter Bariso performed the swearings-in.
Rather than take a victory lap, Sacco, who is also a state senator, focused his own swearing in speech on thanking the commissioners and Hudson County politicos arrayed before the steps of the town’s municipal building.
“I don’t think I ever saw anything like it. I Never saw the enthusiasm within the organization and the people themselves as we went around. Even on election day, people were stopping us and telling us they were with us,” Sacco said. “It really was a great feeling to go through that campaign to see the people were responding. They believed our message. They knew we were trying to make North Bergen a better place, and it became a very, very effective campaign.”
Sacco and his commissioners won’t have to defend their seats for another four years.
It’s possible Wainstein, who has already spent more than $1 million on the mayoral bids he’s mounted, will choose to run again, but that prospect wasn’t much of a concern for Sacco.
“I couldn’t care less,” he said when asked if he thought Wainstein would run again in 2023.