Listen to audio version of this article
PARAMUS – Whether it’s football or politics, you can’t go wrong quoting Vince Lombardi.
Paul Juliano, who was elected chair of the Bergen County Democratic Committee Wednesday night without opposition, knows that.
Before about 700 committee members voted Wednesday night in a union hall here, but with his win assured, Juliano said his goals for the party would be to follow Lombardi’s dictate that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Juliano referred to the legendary coach as a Bergen County native. Lombardi was actually born in Brooklyn, but he did coach at the now-closed St. Cecilia High School in Englewood. No one caught, or cared about, the slip; after all, this was a night to celebrate.
The night began with Lou Stellato, the outgoing chair, taking a victory lap.
Stellato likened assuming control of the Bergen Dems in 2010 to getting the keys to an Edsel, noting that the party controlled little in a county of about 1 million people.
But in 2011, he said Democrats won two freeholder seats and the county offices of surrogate and clerk. The next year, they took control of the freeholder board.
Today, Bergen Democrats control all county and state elected offices with the exception of Legislative Districts 39 and 40.
Referring to reports Republicans want to make the 2019 election a referendum on Governor Murphy, Stellato had a sharp reaction, or perhaps it was a warning.
“They ought to remember who their governor was and who our president is,” he said. In truth, it wasn’t a bad line. Chris Christie left office with approval ratings less than 20 percent and polls show Donald Trump is equally unpopular in the state.
Murphy, by the way, was there, albeit briefly. The governor offered the customary political platitude about “loving” to visit Bergen County. And as he often does, Murphy had sports on his mind as well.
While not a Yankees fan (he roots for the Red Sox), Murphy nonetheless compared the transition of Stellato to Juliano to passing the baton from Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio. High praise indeed.
In real life, Juliano heads the public works department in blue-collar Fairview, which is where he grew up and lived most of his life. He recently moved to Woodcliff Lake.
Juliano said his first task will be a rather mundane one – revising the party bylines.
But then the real work begins. Expressing “overwhelming” joy at being chosen to lead the party, Juliano said he’s not satisfied with what Bergen Democrats have achieved over the last few years. He said he wants to win Districts 39 and 40.
Vince Lombardi would like that kind of ambition.