Listen to audio version of this article
As Sunday morning church bells rang from nearby Saint John the Baptist Church, drawing hundreds of faithful parishioners, nearby La Fortuna restaurant in Fairview drew its own crowd, more than 700 people showing up for a pre-election breakfast with Democratic Mayor Vincent A. Bellucci Jr. and his council running mates Violetta Berisha and Russell Martin.
This was a surprising turnout for an election uncontested both in the June primary and in the Nov. 5 general election.
The event featured many of the classic images of a small town with Bellucci holding babies and shaking the hands of loyal followers in a feel-good ceremony that will lead to his being elected to his 7th four-year term as mayor.
“There are no real issues,” he said. “We work for stability.”
The event did not go unnoticed by powerful Bergen County political elite, which included Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano, who celebrated Bellucci’s upcoming reelection.
Fairview is something of a calm in the midst of a storm, a town located in the 32nd district which whose state senator is North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. The town is also in the eighth Congressional District under Rep. Albio Sires.
But under Bellucci, Fairview appears to have avoided the political drama in towns like Bergenfield or Englewood Cliffs, and seems as remote from the hubbub of Hudson County (a few miles south) as Mayberry is from New York City.
Bellucci seems determined to keep Fairview from making headlines, unless it comes with big print about how well it is run. This may be evident when the biggest headline out of Fairview over the last few years has been a lightning strike knocking out the police dispatch, or a more tragic news of a house fire displacing residents
“After 25 years people seem to be happy with my leadership,” Bellucci said.
Bellucci is the longest serving mayor in the history of Fairview Borough.
Fairview has what is called a weak mayor form of government, which means the mayor only votes on the council to break a tie. But the mayor as in most towns usually sets the agenda and relies on the council to implement it.
Although Bellucci was first elected mayor in 1996, his two running mates are relatively newcomers.
Berisha was named to the council in May 2017 to fill the unexpired term of John Rossi who had resigned.
Martin, who was appointed to the council in 2012 to fill a vacancy left by the death of John Pierotti, won a four-year term later that year.
Bellucci said his main goal is to retain stability and to make certain that borough continues to thrive.
The Sunday morning gathering, he said, was to pump up his supporters and to make certain that people come out to vote – even though the election is uncontested.
Although Bellucci campaign signs dominated the reception hall, there were more than a few for Juliano, dedicated to have him retain his seat at the county chair.
“We’re Democrats here,” Bellucci said, posing for a campaign shot that included babies, his running mates and family members.