LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Little Falls Mayor's Ball last week celebrated the historic victory of the recent mayoral election of James Belford Damiano, along with Councilman Anthony Sgobba and Councilwoman Maria Cordonnier. The event was held at The Brownstone in Paterson.
Approximately 300 attended the event, including local, county and state officials, Little Falls School District Superintendent Tracey Marinelli, Passaic Valley Board of Education members, local police, Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark and members of the Woodland Park Council. Also on hand was Barbara Tanis, vice chairwoman of the Passaic County Democratic Committee, and Passaic County Freeholders Pat Lepore, Bruce James, Theodore "TJ" Best and Assad Aktar.
Sam Sheber, former mayor of Little Falls who served in the early 70s and was one of the last Democrat mayors to serve the township prior to Damiano, was also present.
Little Falls Democratic Organization Chairman Kevin Barry hosted the evening and spotlighted the town's political turnover to the Democratic party, with a new mayor and several council members that defeated the Republican stronghold of 40 plus years.
"We elected our first Democratic mayor, James Damiano, and he swept with our council candidates Maria Cordonnier and Anthony Sgobba," said Barry. He added that Cordonnier and Sgobba joined Bill Leiss, Democratic senior councilman and Christopher Vancheri, councilman, who filled Damiano's vacated council seat when Damiano was elected mayor.
"And because James was a sitting democratic councilman, Christopher Vancheri was an excellent candidate to fill that vacancy."
Barry continued speaking of the political party's shift in the township.
"The Little Falls council went from a 100 percent Republican from a few years ago to a 100 percent Democratic with a Democratic mayor," he stated. "This is going to be a very exciting year to be on the ballot in 2017."
Barry added that the Little Falls Democratic Committee will be selecting candidates to fill two vacancies to run for the November elections to fill two vacancies. Vancheri is expected to run for the unexpired term. The second unexpired seat was recently vacated by Joseph Maceri, a Republican, who stepped down due to personal reasons earlier this month.
John Currie, New Jersey Democratic State Committee chairman, who also serves as Democratic chair of the Passaic County Democratic Organization, also commended Damiano and his entire team.
"I'm so proud of what you're doing in the town of Little Falls and the town is on the right track," Currie said of Damiano. "Your leadership, along with your candidates, makes the town so fortunate. I am just thrilled when I look at Little Falls, and to see that it was done by over 1,000 votes. This is about what we can do for the people in the town of Little Falls."
Currie also acknowledged Sgobba and Cordonnier.
"Tony and Maria, we appreciate what you do," he noted.
Barry then introduced Damiano stating, "It is my distinct honor to introduce to you, the first Democrat elected mayor in the town of Little Falls in 44 years.
Damiano thanked everyone for their support and recalled the heat of the past summer where he, Sgobba and Cordonnier walked from neighborhood to neighborhood campaigning.
"Despite being extremely hot and humid, we did it laughing and smiling and somehow walking in this weather was fun," he said. "The three of us walked every single day and we won in November. Every one of you in this room, it's clear we're friends and I have your support.
"That said, there is no way I could have been standing here without your support of these people," he said, inviting Cordonnier, Sgobba, Vancheri, and Leiss to the podium. Damiano gave a special recognition to Leiss.
"I cannot go without recognizing Bill and we call him our senior councilman for one reason, it's not because he is on our senior citizen advisory committee and it's not because he is a senior citizen. It is because Bill Leiss has been one of the leaders in Little Falls on this side of the ticket for as far back as I can remember."
He also gave an acknowledgment to Vancheri.
"There's one final person, through much work with this party, was able to fill my vacancy on the council. He's someone who has proven to me to be a councilman for us, by working day-in day-out. He's been a friend for years and now he's a colleague - Chris Vancheri.