2nd Filipino mayor in New Jersey history takes oath

Wife Ilya Evangelista Amatorio — carrying son Andrew –and teenage son Lance by the mayor’s side at oathtaking. At left, former Bergenfield Mayor Robert Rivas beams from his seat. Photo by Boyet Loverita

By Lindy Rosales

On a cold and windy Sunday afternoon of January 5, people packed the Bergenfield borough hall to witness history. It was the swearing-in ceremony of Mayor Arvin Amatorio and Councilmembers Ora Kornbluth and Salvador “Buddy” Deauna. The three candidates ran together as a slate and were elected together in November. 

Amatorio went around the room greeting everyone.  

He was later sworn in by State Senator Joe Lagana. To begin his term as Mayor, Amatorio vacated his Council seat, and the Council unanimously appointed local businessman Marc Pascual to serve the remaining one year on his term.

“During our campaign, I met with over 10,000 residents directly at their doors, and appreciate them sharing their vision for a better Bergenfield with me. I pledge to always work in the best interests of residents, and all my efforts will be shaped by feedback from the public,” said Amatorio. “Today is a historic day for not only me but the entire Bergenfield community, who welcomed me and my wife about 13 years ago. The Filipino community is rejoicing and I am genuinely proud of my heritage but I am here to serve all residents, from all communities. In my first 100 days as mayor, I will work with the DPW, my colleagues in the council, and of course residents to identify which roads require an immediate repair and construct a plan to make sure we address these issues because Bergenfield residents deserve to feel safe in our neighborhoods. We are also going to begin plans to construct a new Borough Hall, that is energy-efficient and will better serve residents for at least 100 years. Bergenfield will improve its parks, sports facilities and will streamline our sports and recreation program as part of my plan to invest in our youth.”

Family, local officials, and supporters pack the hall for the oath-taking of Mayor Arvin Amatorio,  Councilmembers Buddy Deauna and Ora Kornbluth.   

As Amatorio was being introduced, his young son Andrew ran eagerly to the stage and called out “Daddy!” The mayor held his son in his arms as his wife Ilya and teenage son Lance stood by his side as he read his oath.

He spoke of his parents who were both public school teachers in Aurora province. His mother passed away last year during his campaign. “They are no longer here but I am committed to making them proud by making Bergenfield the best place that it can be,” he said.

Amatorio grateful for FilAms’ support but maintains he will be ‘mayor for all.’ Photo by Boyet Loverita

“Bergenfield is in great hands with Arvin, who’s been a part of this community for 13 years, and brings his experience fighting higher taxes and service on the Public Works & Parks and Police Committees to his new position as mayor and to keep Bergenfield taxes stable, improve our infrastructure, renovate our parks, and continue to revitalize the community and attract new businesses,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer.  

Interviewed after his swearing in, Amatorio voiced his gratitude to FilAms who live in the borough and supported him. “As I start my administration as a new mayor of Bergenfield, inaasahan ko po na patuloy yong suporta nila sa akin at tulungan nila ako para maging successful as a new mayor at para ikarangal po natin and ating lahi bilang Pilipino not only in Bergenfield.”

He encouraged FilAms to get involved in the community and local politics and “help us in making our community progressive.”

Amatorio made history as the 2nd Filipino mayor of Bergenfield, also the second mayor of Filipino ethnicity in the state of New Jersey. Sometimes known as the Little Manila of Bergen County, there are at least 5K Filipinos in Bergenfield – with a population of about 27K — many of them property owners, he said.

A great number of local elected officials were on hand for the historic event, including the first FilAm mayor of Bergenfield Robert Rivas, Gottheimer, Lagana, State Assemblymembers Chris Tully and Lisa Swain, former Bergenfield Mayor Carlos Aguasvivas, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, Bergen County Clerk John Hogan, Freeholders Tom Sullivan, Germaine Ortiz, and Mary Amoroso, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna, Palisades Park Mayor Chris Chung, Englewood Cliffs Council President Gloria Oh, Ridgefield Councilman Dennis Shim, Jersey City Councilman Rolando Lavarro, Hasbrouck Heights Councilman Chris Hillmann, Dumont Councilman Connor Gorman, Mahwah Councilman Jonathan Wong, and Legislative District 38 and 37 Democratic Chairmen Esther Fletcher and John Bang. The Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano was also in attendance.

© The FilAm 2020

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