As anticipated, Albio Sires of West New York, who is simultaneously serving as mayor of that town and as 33rd District Assemblyman, will become the new congressman for the 13th Legislative District this Monday.
Current Town Commissioner Sal Vega is expected to replace him as mayor.
In winning the election Tuesday, Sires replaces former Union City native Robert Menendez, who was elected to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
Sires beat five opponents in Tuesday night’s congressional race, winning 49,670 out of Hudson County’s 64,903 votes cast. Sires’ total vote count for the 13th District was 72,931.
The 13th Congressional District includes most of Hudson County and small parts of Essex, Middlesex, and Union counties.
There were actually two separate elections that Sires won on the same day – an important one for Sires to get the two-year seat as of January of 2007, and a less important one for him to fill out the remainder of former Rep. Robert Menendez’s current term from now until January. It was the full-term challenge that pitted him against five opponents.
Sires’ most significant opposition for that regular term was Republican challenger John Guarini, who received 13 percent of the vote in Hudson County, with 13,072. Independent candidate Brian Williams of the Socialist Workers Party received 853 votes. The other tallies were: Herbert Shaw of Politicans Are Crooks, 582; Dr. Esmat Zaklama of the American Party, 378 votes; and Dick Hester of Pro-Life Conservative, 316.
In the race for the short, unexpired term, he received 48,357 votes to Dick Hester’s 1,391.
Meanwhile, City Hall sources said Sires would resign his Assembly position on Monday. The seat is expected to be filled by Freeholder and West New York Commissioner Sal Vega.
Vega was also expected to become the new mayor of West New York, and a ceremonial swearing-in was tentatively slated for the West New York Middle School on Friday night.
Vega’s old commissioners seat is expected to go to Caridad Rodriguez, who was also expected to be part of the swearing-in on Friday.
Then, the jockeying will begin for Vega’s old freeholder seat.
Sires has served as mayor of West New York for 12 years and as assemblyman from 1999 to the present. He was state Assembly speaker from 2002 to 2006.
Throughout the campaign, Sires had very little opposition in heavily Democratic Hudson County. After last Tuesday’s elections, the Democrats once again control the majority in the United States House of Representatives and Senate.
“I want to thank the Hudson County family,” said Sires at a victory celebration Tuesday night at Casino in the Park in Jersey City. Sires came by with his wife Adrienne to thank the voters, and then continued onto to East Brunswick to join the also victorious U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
“This is a real honor to represent the people of the 13th District,” said Sires. “I will work as hard as I did as the mayor and as the speaker of the Assembly to make sure that the people are proud of their congressman.”
Celebrating with friends
Joining Sires in his new responsibilities will be West New York Business Administrator Richard Turner, who will be leaving that position to run the congressman’s New Jersey office in Hudson County.
Turner also serves as mayor of Weehawken, and will remain so.
“West New York has been an absolute thrill working with the mayor, the commissioner, and the residents,” said Turner. “We accomplished a lot, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing a lot more on the federal level.”
Sires’ fellow Assemblyman in the 33rd District, Brian Stack, who is also mayor of Union City, joined him Tuesday night.
Sires was grateful for Union City’s support. “We got 10,000 votes out of Union City,” said Sires.
Also on hand was State Sen. Bernard Kenny from Hoboken and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise from Jersey City.
“Albio is extraordinarily qualified to represent us in the Congress, and we are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber and experience to follow Bob Menendez and represent the 13th Congressional District,” said Kenny.
“The congressman is very important to the county because he is really the one who has the relationships with the municipalities on the ground.”
“As an old friend and college buddy, I am very happy and proud of him,” said DeGise. “Albio has been plugging away for a long time, and finally all the hard work paid off.”
Also celebrating a victory was newly elected Hudson County Register Willie Flood, who came to celebrate the victory of her running mates.
“It’s an unbelievable night,” said Flood. “I feel so good. My priority will always be the people of Hudson County. They always make us so proud, and I am going to make them proud by doing the right thing by them.”
‘How do you like them apples?’
Before closing the evening, Kenny and company made a few celebratory remarks.
“[Menendez] is the first statewide elected official from our county in 11 years, and I want to thank everyone,” said Kenny.
He added, “We always perform under great pressure and great expectations, and it appears that we have exceeded the voter turnout and numbers than we did in 2005 for Jon Corzine.”
DeGise said, “Hudson County got 75 percent of the vote today. How do you like them apples? The battle was won in the trenches.”
Kenny said that it shows that voters throughout the state, Republican, Democrat and Independent alike, want a change in Washington.
“We’re changing the direction of America,” he said.
Sires will hold further celebrations after his Nov. 13th inauguration for the unexpired term. The new congressman said he was already going to Washington this past Wednesday to start working.
“I have to be in Washington by 12 p.m. tomorrow,” said Sires.