Each New Jersey resident is represented by one state Senator and two Assembly members. This past Monday, a slew of candidates filed to run for those offices in the June 7 primaries. The general elections will be held in November.
North Bergen Mayor and State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, like several other state legislators, will have to get used to a new district, as recent state redistricting has changed the 32nd District’s boundaries to cover a larger section of North Hudson, including West New York, Guttenberg, and Edgewater in addition to the towns it originally covered: North Bergen, Secaucus, Kearny, Harrison, East Newark, and Fairview. Sacco no longer represents part of Jersey City.
“I wanted a woman on the ticket; it’s a real nice balance.” – Nicholas Sacco
Latin woman to run with Sacco
On April 7, it was announced that West New York Board of Education Vice President Angelica Maria Jimenez will run in the primary for Quigley’s now-vacant 32nd District Assembly seat. Current Assemblyman Vincent Prieto will run again for his own seat. Jimenez and Prieto are running alongside Sacco.
Jeff Boss, a Guttenberg resident known for his conspiracy theories about the National Security Agency and the September 11 attacks, will challenge Sacco in the Democratic primary. Edward O’Neill filed for the Republican primary and will be the Republican candidate against Sacco in the fall election.
For the Assembly, another Democrat from Guttenberg filed under a different slogan than Boss: Francisco Torres. Two Republicans, Ronald Tarolla and Michael Bartulovish, both filed as well.
How they chose
Sacco said he asked West New York Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega to suggest who should fill the newly vacant Assembly position, and Jimenez was his choice.
Sacco said with the addition of West New York and Guttenberg, the 32nd District is now composed of 54 to 56 percent Hispanic residents.
“I wanted a woman on the ticket, it’s a real nice balance,” said Sacco. “I need to have a Latino. It’s the morally right thing to do, being in a supermajority minority district.”
Sacco dealing with two races at once
“I have to get done with the mayor’s race first before I can focus on the Senate,” said Sacco, who is up for reelection in the May 10 North Bergen election as well.
He said that almost every evening he has been out campaigning for that race and once it is over, will focus on his Senate bid. He said around 800 people are helping him campaign.
Sacco said he is happy that West New York became a part of his district since he grew up there and still has family, including his parents, who reside there.
When asked if the Citizens for Change slate running against him in North Bergen’s upcoming commissioners race has affected his campaign, he said he is campaigning more than he would if he was unopposed.
“For the most part, I’ve looked at it, I’ve read it, this is what they are saying [and] I don’t give it any credence, but I’m not going to go around and argue about it,” said Sacco. “I am trying to meet as many people as possible from now until Election Day.”
Sacco has been a senator since 1994 and mayor for 25 years. He said he felt as long as the township was “moving forward with new ideas” that there was more work to be done.
He said he hopes to get a bill passed in the senate that would require all individuals arrested to have their DNA taken and placed into a databank.
Candidates in the primary have to be at least 30 years old, a resident of New Jersey for at least four years, and a resident of the legislative district for at least one year by Election Day, and be a legal voter. They were required to hand in a minimum of 100 petition signatures.
For the state senate, Sacco handed in 3,579 signatures. Jeff Boss filed 252 signatures challenging Sacco in the Democratic primary. Edward O’Neill filed 104 petitions in the Republican primary.
For the assembly, Prieto and Jimenez both filed 352 petitions. Torres filed 187 petitions. The two Republicans, Tarolla and Bartulovish, filed 119 signatures.
When asked about the opposition from Boss, Sacco said he knew that Boss had run for president and U.S. Senate in the past and had “issues pertaining to 9/11.”
Prieto said he is excited that the district was reconfigured into the state’s only Latino majority district.
He said that most of the district will remain the same, but the challenge for him will be to learn more about Edgewater, which he knows less about. He said he plans to meet public officials and residents.
Jimenez, who is a full-time x-ray technician in Jersey City, said while she never really had “political aspirations,” she is honored that she was chosen to run for Assembly.
She he hasn’t decided whether she can handle two positions, or whether it is ethical to remain on the Board of Education and Assembly at once. She will make that decision later.
She said she will “have to learn” the details of the Assembly job, which has a bigger impact than the role she has played in West New York. She said her biggest consideration will be multi-tasking, balancing time between raising her children and work.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.