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WEST NEW YORK – An inauguration day is no time for work; it’s time to celebrate.
And so it was at precisely 6:47 p.m. Tuesday, Gabe Rodriguez, the town’s new mayor, stood on the steps of town hall and asked the 300 or so folks assembled before him to capture the moment.
And a good, if not great, moment it was.
The sun was setting over the meadowlands to the west in a cloudless, blue sky. The temperature was perfect for an outdoor evening event – not hot, not cool.
The “New Beginnings” slate really could not have scripted things any better.
The Memorial High School band entertained the crowd before the ceremonies officially began with some rousing numbers and local artists sang first the National Anthem and later, God Bless America.
Congressman Albio Sires, who was instrumental in bringing the Rodriguez team to victory over incumbent mayor Felix Roque a week ago, was not there. But he was hardly forgotten.
“We would not be here today without his support,” Rodriguez said of the congressman who was in Washington. And just to be sure everyone got the message, the new mayor told the crowd that’s something they should applaud. They obliged.
There was no congressman, but various local pols were on hand, including Sal Vega, a former mayor, Amy DeGise, the Hudson County Democratic chair and Richard Turner, the mayor of Weehawken and another key backer of the insurgent slate. Gov. Murphy was there too, but not for long. He left after giving brief remarks.
The governor called it a “day of renewal” for West New York and boldly proclaimed that the new government “will do the work you (the people) need them to do.”
Each of the five winning commission candidates was sworn in separately and each thanked the crowd, speaking in both English and Spanish in this very Hispanic community.
“Be proud. Be proud of yourself,” Rodriguez exhorted. He was referring to the winning campaign.
Roque, the now-defeated mayor, has given no sign he plans to go quietly. He already is talking about challenging the validity of the election, contending that the results were totally inconsistent with his polling. Obviously, he’s not the first candidate to discover that. Still, Roque thinks it may mean fraud.
All that will play out over time, as will the New Beginnings’ campaign pledges to make government more open, increase parking and do a better job fixing the roads.
But Tuesday night simply was a time for the winners to seize the moment and dream of good times ahead. And that is what they did.