NEWARK, NJ — Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura announced today that he will seek re-election for an 11th term.

Fontoura, a 24-year veteran of the Newark Police Department, assumed office in 1990 and is currently the longest-serving sheriff in Essex County history and is the dean of the New Jersey sheriff's delegation. He heads the largest and most active sheriff's department in New Jersey.

In the wake of a tumultuous 2020 that has faced social and political unrest during a global health pandemic, Fontoura told TAPinto Newark that he’s gearing up for re-election with a focus on protection for county residents.

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“I want to make sure we maintain the best public safety we can possibly provide and get through this pandemic,” Fontoura said. “We want to help all of our neighbors to get through this pandemic along with their families. That’s our priority at this moment.”

With an aim to overcome the pandemic, the Essex County Sheriff said another objective of his re-election is to maintain a consistent response time for local authorities to stymie potential violence.

“We want to make sure our officers are able to respond,” he said. “We are going to continue to deescalate and make sure that people understand we are here to serve the public with dignity and respect. That’s been my mission for a long time and [it] is going to continue to be my mission for the future.”

Prior to his election as Sheriff, Fontoura rose through the ranks of the Newark Police Department, starting in 1967. During his 24 years in Newark, he earned the rank of Captain and served as Chief Assistant to the Police Director. As Chief Assistant, he helped formulate policy, issued daily directives and was responsible for the Office of Public Information.

Under Fontoura’s direction as county sheriff, his office has implemented a state-of-the-art court security system and instituted a more efficient records management system.

During the past year, Fontoura has also played a prominent role in the county's response to the pandemic, which includes the enactment of COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs.

With Newark particularly hit hard by the pandemic, the sheriff's Office of Emergency Management helped establish 146 sites for COVID-19 testing and tested more than 44,000 Newark residents.

The sheriff's department also provided Newark residents, frontline workers, health care officials and first responders with 87,552 N95 masks; 246,471 KN95 masks; 1.59 million surgical masks; 133,037 face shields; 98,559 surgical gowns; and 761,323 pairs of protective gloves.

Fontoura noted that COVID-19 has personally affected him as well in addition to county residents and businesses. He said in early March last year, he came down with the infectious disease, which sidelined him for nearly a month. 

“I can tell you that [this disease] wasn’t pretty,” he said. “I was out of action for three and a half weeks. I lost 30 pounds...but, I’m back to normal.”

Following his bounce back from the disease, Fontoura expressed that his return to work and daily routine has only heightened his determination to serve another term. 

“I have the energy, desire, and will to carry on,” he said. “I want to keep doing this because it’s important now more than ever to protect our neighbors as long as the good people of Essex County allow me to do it.” 

 

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TAPinto SOMA is a free online newspaper serving the Townships of Maplewood and South Orange Village with no paywall. TAPinto SOMA is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.