WEST NEW YORK – Albio Sires doesn’t just want to win the May 9 mayoral election, he wants to make some personal history.
“I want to have the biggest victory I ever had in this town,” the long-time congressman turned mayoral candidate said at a spirited Saturday morning rally just outside Memorial High School, where he once starred on the basketball court. Phil Murphy was the main attraction.
Hudson County Democrats don’t seem troubled by rain. The rally was under a tent, but still, the weather just outside was cold and rainy. That didn’t stop about 300 or so people from attending, many of whom carried signs urging a vote for Column B, or as it was often said in this heavily Hispanic town, “Columna B.”
That’s the Sires team in any language. He is one of five running for five city commission seats. Sires will be the mayor if his slate wins.
The election is “non-partisan,” but that’s just a formality.
As Gabe Rodriguez, the outgoing mayor put it, “We have the support of New Jersey’s top leadership.”
That would be the Democratic leadership.
Besides the governor, speakers included LeRoy Jones, the state Democratic chair, and Brian Stack, who is both a state senator and the mayor of nearby Union City.
Hyperbole is called for at political rallies and this one did not disappoint.
Jones said the election is a “moment of reckoning” for the town’s future.
Stack said few politicians would give up a seat in the House, as Sires just did, to run for mayor. He said that proves Sires’ strong commitment to West New York.
Stack also said he’s getting personally involved, noting that he’s going to help Team Sires get out the vote beginning Monday. Or as he put it:
“I’m going to live in West New York.”
Murphy said the town needs the “steely veteran presence” Sires would bring. The governor warned that this is not the time for “untested leadership.”
He briefly led the sign-waving crowd in a chant of “Column B, Column B.”
Team Sires is running against a slate headed by mayoral candidate Cosmo Cirillo, who is now a city commissioner.
Cirillo, not surprisingly, was not impressed by today’s show. Speaking at his headquarters a few blocks away on Hudson Avenue, he said it’s no surprise that the county organization backs Sires.
But he said he has “full faith” in the voters to make their own decision.
A central policy issue in the campaign is a vacant lot on Broadway and 65th Street. Cirillo wants to use the property for a community center and a parking deck.
Sires wants to build a new school there.
Murphy, who obviously was briefed on this issue, said he wanted to clarify things.
He said $65 million in state money earmarked for that property can only be used for a school.
As for those with other ideas, the governor said, “Tell them Murphy said the following, ‘It’s my money and that’s how it’s going to be spent.'”