Diaz takes over in New Jersey's 'City by the Bay'

Hundreds of Perth Amboy residents, several legislators, four mayors from neighboring towns, two congressmen and one U.S. Attorney filled the local high school’s auditorium to near capacity today to inaugurate the city’s new mayor, Wilda Diaz, for a four year term.

Diaz, the first female mayor of Perth Amboy and first Latina mayor in the state, won an upset victory against 18-year incumbent Joe Vas, who remains an Assemblyman. Also sworn in today were Diaz’s two council running mates, Kenneth Balut and Fernando Gonzales.

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, who faced a primary challenge by Vas for his seat in 2006, introduced Diaz to a standing ovation.

Diaz, 43, began her speech by thanking Vas for his service as mayor, and acknowledged his role in the waterfront development that has revitalized parts of this old this old, industrial town of 48,000.

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Hawkins becomes mayor of the City of Orange

Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory swears in Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, left, as Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) looks on.Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory swears in Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, left, as Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) looks on. 

ORANGE - The son of a former beauty queen and crusading Civil Rights attorney, Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., took the oath of office today as Mayor of the City of Orange in a well-attended and star-studded ceremony in the Middle School auditorium.

"On Day One of our new administration, I don’t say to you, 'Just watch what I can do in City Hall,'" the new mayor challenged the crowd. "Instead, I say, 'Get involved in every way that you can.' Together we will create new ways for you to participate in the building of a better and more prosperous Orange.

"And I say, 'Come with me to City Hall, and together, we’re going to turn our city around!' The future is now!"

Elected two months ago to replace the now convicted Mayor Mims Hackett, Hawkins literally walked up a red carpet rolled out onto the concrete in front of the school, and faced a sea of Orange residents and luminaries that included singing star Dionne Warwick.

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No longer mayor, Vas's future uncertain

Joe Vas’ eighteen-year tenure as mayor of Perth Amboy came to an end today, and he’s not ready to say if he’ll seek re-election to a fourth term in the State Assembly next year.

“That’s a lifetime away. A lot of opportunities are in front of me and I’m not rushing to make any decisions today, nor do I have to,” Vas said.

Still, despite reeling from a lopsided upset in Perth Amboy, Vas may have strengthened his hold on his Assembly seat – should he choose to run again -- by becoming the Democratic municipal chairman for Perth Amboy.

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Cooper goes to Hawkins office with Lautenberg's good graces

Hawkins Chief of Staff Tai Cooper confers with Codey Chief A.J. SabathHawkins Chief of Staff Tai Cooper confers with Codey Chief A.J. Sabath 

ORANGE - In a packed auditorium at the Middle School this afternoon, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) saluted the newly sworn-in Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., and said he couldn’t go wrong with Tahirah "Tai" Cooper as his chief-of-staff.

Formerly Lautenberg’s Cooper senior project specialist out of the senator’s Newark office, Cooper is now officially with the Hawkins administration as the new mayor takes charge of Orange today.

One of the stars on stage paying tribute to the 29-year old Hawkins, Lautenberg sat in between Gov. Jon Corzine and Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex). In the audience were Newark Mayor Cory Booker and East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser.

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Jackson likes Obama-Biden

The Rev. Reginald Jackson in Orange today:The Rev. Reginald Jackson in Orange today: 

ORANGE - Rev. Reginald Jackson, pastor of St. Matthew AME Church in Orange and executive director of the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, predicted that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.) would turn several states blue that were red in the last presidential election cycle.

"I think what Barack Obama does is he broadens the map for Democrats," said Jackson, who was one of the key members of The Group, the powerful fund-raising arm of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in New Jersey.

Now a self-professed big backer of Obama, Jackson said he believes the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would be competitive in the South and the West.

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James asks Judge to vacate jury verdict

Lawyers for former Newark Mayor Sharpe James and co-defendant Tamika Riley will appear in federal court tomorrow seeking to vacate the jury’s conviction on federal corruption charges.  Motions like this are viewed as fairly common, and federal prosecutors believe they lack merit.

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Art Albohn, eight-term Assemblyman, dies at 86

Former Assemblyman Arthur Albohn, a Morris County Republican who spent sixteen years in the Legislature, died on Sunday.  He was 86.
Albohn was elected to the State Assembly in 1979, defeating Democratic incumbent Rosemarie Totaro in the general election.  He went on to win seven more terms.  Albohn began his political career when he won   seat on the Hanover Township Committee in 1955.  He served as mayor five times during his 26-year career in local government. 

"Art Albohn was a model legislator and leading member of the Republican caucus during the 1980s and 1990s who always asked the questions that needed to be asked," said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, his former legislative aide.  "He served New Jersey and his constituents with integrity and rigor and was one of the most dedicated public officials I have ever known."

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New mayors take office today

Several new mayors will take office today after winning the May 13 non-partisan municipal elections, including Wilda Diaz in Perth Amboy, Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. in Orange, Jerry Fried in Montclair, Robert Romano in Vineland, and Edward Mahaney in Cape May City.

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The Back Room

Stung in NY, Astorino says Christie should think about stepping down as RGA chair

Dissed by Gov. Chris Christie, New York Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said Christie should consider stepping down from his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Assocation.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 22nd

  Union County Sheriff Ralph Froehlich has died Union County today mourns the loss of the longest-serving sheriff in New Jersey history, who died last night at the age of 83. (Editor/PolitickerNJ) http://www.politickernj.com/77506/union-county-sheriff-ralph-froehlich-has-died     Cryan serving as acting Union County sheriff, poised to run in November ...

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Op-Ed

Legislation needed to restore balance in election financing

By JEFF BRINDLE Much has been written about the magnitude of campaign spending by independent special interest groups.  But until now, there has been little discussion about the impact. During the 2012 Presidential and Congressional contests,... Read More >

Contributors

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Quote of the Day

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