17 years after he left to take a seat in Congress, Albio Sires will be mayor of West New York once again.
Sires, who served in the U.S. House from 2006 until last year, has won a seat on the West New York Town Commission by a large margin; with all four of his running mates also winning seats, he’s set to succeed incumbent Gabe Rodriguez as the town’s next mayor.
As of 10:25 p.m. and with all election districts reporting, Sires’ slate had a collective 61% of the vote, while a rival slate led by Town Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo had 39%. (Each individual commissioner candidate on Sires’ slate got around 12% of the vote to Team Cirillo’s 8% in the ten-way race.)
Joining Sires on the 53,000-strong Hudson County town’s governing body will be one incumbent commissioner, Victor Barrera, alongside Board of Education President Adam Parkinson, Marielka Diaz, and Marcos Arroyo, who was the Republican nominee to succeed Sires in his safely Democratic congressional district last year.
On Town Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo’s unsuccessful slate were incumbent Commissioner Margarita Guzman, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, Walter Lopez, and Hiram Gonzalez. A fifth commissioner, Yoleisy Yanez, did not seek re-election.
Sires’ victory marks a return to local government for the Cuban American politician after a nearly two-decade hiatus. He was previously mayor for 11 years, from 1995 to 2006, and also served as the Speaker of the State Assembly for part of that time.
His decision to run for local office once again this year was part of a larger reshuffling of Hudson County politics; with Sires getting for mayor from the Hudson County Democratic organization, Rodriguez will head to the State Assembly instead, evicting Jimenez from her seat.
Cirillo, however, was not willing to let his own ambitions be deferred after eight years on the town commission. As evidenced by his alliance with Guzman and Jimenez, he clearly wasn’t the only West New York politician who didn’t want to acquiesce to Sires and the county party.
Sires had a number of factors working in his favor throughout the campaign. He had the active support of Union City Mayor Brian Stack – a vote-getting legend in Hudson County – as well as endorsements from Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, and Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones.
He also raised more than $200,000, receiving money from a range of groups that included the Middlesex County Democratic Party and the Hudson County Republican Party. (Cirillo’s team raised a solid amount of money, too, but still significantly less than Sires.)
The campaign was a bitter one, especially in its final days. Cirillo’s team claimed that Jimenez’s 78-year-old mother had been harassed by Sires volunteers, leading her to trip and injure herself; the Sires campaign responded that no one had been bothering Jimenez’s mother except to tell her that her campaign sign-covered car wasn’t allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.
There had been some whispers on both sides that the election could produce a split result, with members of both tickets winning seats on the commission and creating a complex battle for control. But with every member of Sires’ ticket notching a clear victory, the former congressman will start his mayoral comeback term with a strong hand.
This story was updated at 9:21 a.m. on May 10 with a correction: Victor Barrera was the incumbent commissioner on Sires’s ticket – not Hugo Cabrera, who is a commissioner in neighboring North Bergen.