Union City Mayor Brian Stack can throw one hell of a party.
More than 3,000 people, as many standing in aisles or watching the event on screens outside the as there were in seats, came out to support the Stack at the state senator’s Thursday night rally, which featured many of the state’s top Democrats and was as much a theater production as it was a political event.
Musical acts were on stage as early as 5 PM., despite the Stack not arriving until almost three hours later. Fog machines and lights gave the Park Theater an air more reminiscent of a concert than anything else, and even the earliest arrivers were given complementary meals and Stack t-shirts. Rumors of a red carpet, however, were proven to be unfounded.
Backstage, a group of politerati – including State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Sandra Cunningham and former state Sen. Kevin O’Toole – whiled away the time waiting for Stack to appear.
When he did, he came with many of the state’s most powerful Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, and a handful of Hudson County mayors that back Stack for county Democratic chairman.
“I think it says a lot about Mayor Stack that you can have the most significant office holders in our state, the governor of New Jersey, the Senate president, county officials, state officials, because they know what mayor stack is all about, which is serving the people,” Menendez, a former Union City Mayor, told the crowd.
Even some Republicans came to pay their attention to Stack, who’s running for mayor uncontested. Kevin O’Toole, who said he had been a friend of Stack’s for two decades, and Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas, who said he’d befriended stack roughly a decade ago, both came out to show their support.
“You won’t find a harder-working elected official anywhere,” Barlas told The New Jersey Globe.
This sort of institutional support and grassroots support are great qualifiers for a run at higher office down the line, but after the event, Stack said he had no interest in such a run.
“No, besides being a mayor and a state senator, the only thing I really want to do is to be the chairman of the party,” Stack told The Globe. “I believe I can build the democratic party in Hudson, I believe I can do it by helping people and doing it differently than what’s been done”
And even that desire, he said, is borne more from gripes about the effectiveness the county’s current leadership than anything else.
Stack, who’s at the forefront of a county-wide feud with Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, said he thought the current party leadership did not do enough to help voters, particularly minority voters in the county.
“The only time that they want to know in the county the African-American and Hispanic, Arab-American, Indian-American community, or minority community, is when there’s an election,” Stack said. “Otherwise there’s no outreach to them. There’s no trying to help them with their problems.”
Stack is unopposed in his bid for re-election to a sixth term in the May 8 non-partisan municipal election.