HASBROUCK HEIGHTS – The packed Sky Room at the Hasbrouck Heights Hilton audibly blew sky high when Jim Tedesco, elected on Tuesday night as the soon-to-be Bergen County Executive, stepped up to the stage.
“People are tired of the politics of division. They are tired of the politics of gridlock,” said Tedesco, 61, the Democratic former Paramus mayor who defeated Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan by a decisive margin on Election Day. “Starting tomorrow, things will be better.”
In his victory speech, Tedesco almost immediately reiterated several key campaign themes that helped to energize the Bergen Democratic base.
“When I get sworn in January 1, I will sign the sheriff’s office contract,” said Tedesco, a proclamation followed by loud cheers from a posse of sheriff’s officers in the room. “I will also sign a memorandum to realign the Bergen County Police with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office.”
Tedesco stood side-by-side during his speech with Bergen Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato and Democratic Freeholders David Ganz and Joan Voss, who also won. Tedesco told PolitickerNJ that while he didn’t necessarily expect his victory to be so clear-cut, he wasn’t surprised after hearing from Bergen voters during a hard-fought, shoe-leather fight against Donovan.
“The people kept telling me over and over – we want change,” Tedesco said as state Democratic stalwarts such as U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) slapped him on the back and old friends pinched his cheek. “The reason I’m here tonight seems pretty clear to me.”
It was also clear that judging from a loud, positive reception in his favor, Roy Cho, the Democratic candidate in the Fifth Congressional District, has a future in Bergen County politics despite going down in defeat to Republican incumbent Scott Garrett.
“We tried as hard we could. My heart is full,” Cho, a 33-year-old attorney who lives in Hackensack, told PolitickerNJ after congratulating Garrett on his victory. “I’ll have to think about what I do in the future. But I plan to keep on fighting.”
For state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), the future is now for the Bergen Democrats.
“The party is brought together by this moment. Now we can have a government that is more about legislation, not litigation,” Weinberg, of Teaneck, told PolitickerNJ, alluding to several lawsuits filed by Donovan during her fights with the Bergen freeholder board, which retained its 5-2 veto proof majority. “Now we can go forward.”
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a potential 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, lauded Tedesco’s victory as he looked to the future of the state Democratic Party.
“It’s a huge message. It’s a huge testimony to Chairman Stellato’s leadership and Jim Tedesco’s hard work,” Fulop said. “This win means that I have another great friend in a position to rally the troops and move forward on Democratic issues.”