MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Victor De Luca said that he has enjoyed a long and rewarding career in his 12 years as mayor of Maplewood, which includes his 2015 induction into the Mayors' Hall of Fame in recognition of his ten years of service. and his award from the NJ Municipal Managers for "Elected Official of the Year," in 2015.

Originally from Clifton, New Jersey, De Luca was raised in a home that took a very active role in local politics. “I remember seeing keychains and bumper stickers around the house supporting different uncles and relatives who were running for office,” said De Luca. “It got me interested from a young age."

“My first real experience with government was watching my dad help to create the police union in Clifton,” he said. De Luca went on to explain that his father’s determination and success helped encourage him to advocate for change himself.

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Mayor De Luca learned many of his leadership skills outside the classroom. While studying at Montclair State University, he served as both the vice president and the president of the student government association.

After graduation he joined the AmeriCorps Vista program, which helps improve impoverished communities around the country. While stationed in Newark, De Luca said he learned a great deal about community management and organization. During his time with Vista he served as a municipal project manager for 16 years.

“I think it’s safe to say I’ve spent more years as the outside agitator than the inside guy,” joked De Luca. “Taking a look at government and the community it serves is an essential aspect of being in a leadership role.”

Some of the insights he has learned to value along the way include creating and maintaining affordable housing, reducing the tax burden with new commercial developments, and fostering a wholesome community image.

“If you’re not prepared to live what you speak, then you’re going to have issues as a person and as a town,” said De Luca. “If we talk about sustainability and openness, then we have to make sure those things are maintained within our community.”

De Luca said his greatest reward of being mayor is working with such a wide array of individuals. During his time as mayor from 2001-2003 and 2009-2017, he has served on the Maplewood Township Committee with 15 different people. He also said helping new residents find a home in Maplewood is another joy of the job.

“With the new Wawa on Springfield Avenue and the apartment redevelopment across the street, I think we’re going to see a lot of new customers and foot traffic in that part of town,” said De Luca. “It’s wonderful to see the community grow.”

Editor's note: this interview with Mayor De Luca took place prior to the Feb. 3 fire at the Avalon apartments on Springfield Ave.