Five Elected Mayors in 50-plus Years: The West New York Connection Ahead of the May 14th Election

As election day for the West New York mayoral race approaches, Insider NJ discusses all of the mayors West New York has had over the past 50 years.

John R. Armellino (1955-1971)

A decorated WWII hero who lost his leg at Omaha Beach, Armellino served for 16 years before getting jammed up on charges of conspiring to protect the Zicarelli gambling empire in exchange for pay offs of $1,000 a week. Commissioner Lawrence T. Harvey replaced Armellino, who resigned in disgrace and died in 2004.

Anthony M. DeFino (1971-1995)

DeFino stabilized West New York after the shocking meltdown of Armellino. He chaired the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) in 1985 and is remembered as a competent mayor and as a real character who had an unforgettable larger-than-life presence. He died in 1996.

Albio Sires (1995-2006)

The Cuban-born Sires (pictured, above) made history when he became mayor of his hometown of West New York. A former Republican, he served as speaker of the General Assembly from 2002 to 2006, and defeated fellow Assemblyman Joe Vas of Perth Amboy in the 2006 Democratic Primary. The win enabled Sires to keep in Hudson the congressional seat previously held by his friend Bob Menendez, tapped for the U.S. Senate seat Jon Corzine left behind to become governor.

Sal Vega (2007-2011)

A former cross-country track star, Vega won the local nonpartisan election the same year he suffered the early political misfortune of getting run over by Brian P. Stack in the Democratic Primary contest for the LD33 state senate seat. The pair of assemblymen vied out of their respective home bases of West New York and Union City, with Stack running off the line. His decimation of Vega left the West New York mayor clinging to the mayoralty in time for the next election.

Felix Roque (2011-)

A colonel in the army and medical doctor, Roque upended the Stack-ravaged Vega to claim victory not only over the mayor, but over the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) that backed the incumbent. It was a big win, which caught the attention of then-Governor Chris Christie, who swore Roque into office. But the new mayor’s troubles with the HCDO only intensified after he backed Republican Joe Kyrillos over Hudson darling U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The survivor of two indictments, he’s running on a platform of stabilizing taxes as he faces reelection on May 14th against a slate led by Commissioner Gabe Rodriguez. 

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