Shortly after my 21-year-old son, Nicholas was born; 23-year-old Joseph DeIorio was elected as Roselle Park’s next Fourth Ward Councilman. He was sworn in on January 1, 1990 and began a public service career in the borough spanning the next 21 years.
DeIorio served Fourth Ward residents with diligence, integrity and professionalism, was re elected and served for five years. At 28, he was elected as Roselle Park’s next Mayor in 1994. His now record setting 16 consecutive years as the borough’s Mayor would begin on January 1, 1995. As most streaks do end, so will DeIorio’s. He will step down from his unprecedented four time elected position at the end of the year.
Most who have lived in Roselle Park during the last 21 years and beyond, will agree that DeIorio’s service proved more than worthy and that he served the borough extremely well. Politics will always yield naysayers. But if one were to capture a picture of the borough in 1989 and resnap it now, and be objective, there’s no doubt that with DeIorio’s input, dedication and desire to see the borough move forward, they’d see a much-improved picture. Not just aesthetically, but overall.
No one person can affect change by him or herself. But just a quick look around, will show many obvious additions and improvements to the borough under DeIorio’s cooperative watch. Development of the Loretti, Acker, Michael Mauri and Lomanaco – Perry Parks, and the Anthony Signorello Roselle Park Youth Center are just a few notables. Scores of renovated streets, gorgeous flagpoles on Westfield Avenue, renovated fire and first aid houses and a much-improved Casano Center add to his accomplishments. Recently, he helped break ground on Roselle Park’s first Senior Citizen Complex – a goal and promise he made 16 years ago. Let’s not forget a renovated downtown, including new sidewalks, decorative streetlights and flags.
But DeIorio, especially as Mayor, was much more than simply adding needed improvements to the borough. Much more. He brought a leadership to the town when it was sorely needed. He saw “outside” the box and encouraged his council colleagues to do the same.
He was the first Mayor to insist on televising Council meetings starting his first day as Mayor in 1995. As a Republican Mayor, he bucked the political system and appointed a known democrat, and the borough’s first female borough attorney, Nancy Sivilli. In fact, two of DeIorio’s borough attorney appointments, Sivilli and Jim Hiemlich, ended up becoming Superior Court judges. He also kept a reasonable line on taxes over the years. He also appointed the first female police woman and first female code enforcement officer. Both with Council approval.
He dedicated thousands of hours to the youth in town. He became “Mayor Joe” to them. His accessibility to the kids in town was unprecedented for a Mayor. He created the “Mayor and I Don’t Smoke” campaign. It was recognized by Governor Christie Whitman’s Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse with an award. He chaired with excellence, the Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse (CAASA), was the first Roselle Park Mayor to conduct a civil union and so much more.
No elected official is perfect, we know. But in DeIorio’s case, as Fourth Ward Councilman and then the Borough’s Mayor, many, including myself, think that he came pretty near close. The town will move forward without him, yes. But there’s no doubt, it and we as residents, will miss him.
– Bob Milici