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Albio Sires

Hudson County Politics Message Board

Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, at a glance

Published in the Asbury Park Press
Occupation: Owner, A.M. Title Agency Inc., Union.

Mayor, West New York, $15,000-a-year salary, plus health benefits.

Speaker, New Jersey General Assembly, $65,333-a-year salary. He is the first Hispanic to hold the top post.

Former English teacher and basketball coach, Memorial High School, West New York.

Born: Jan. 26, 1951, in Bejucal, Cuba. Moved to West New York in 1962, where his father took a job as a factory worker and his mother worked as a seamstress.

Education: Memorial High School, where he was an All-State basketball player.

St. Peter's College, Jersey City, B.A. in Spanish and marketing.

Middlebury College, Vermont, M.A. in Spanish.

Family life: Married to Adrienne, a West New York school administrator, and has an adult stepdaughter, Tara Kole.

Political history: Entered West New York politics in 1979 as a Democrat, working to convince Cuban-born residents that a bearded friend, a candidate for local office, was not pro-Castro.

Starting in the 1980s, Sires, a Democrat, ran for West New York mayor three times in a nonpartisan race in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the established Hudson County Democratic organization. In 1985, he switched to the Republican Party, but became an independent in 1994. In 1987, GOP Gov. Thomas H. Kean Sr. named him to a post in the state Department of Community Affairs as a liaison to the Hispanic community.

In 1995, Sires was elected mayor of West New York. In 1997, he supported Gov. Christie Whitman, a Republican, over Democratic candidate James E. McGreevey. Whitman won re-election by a narrow margin.

In 1998, Sires officially returned to the Democratic Party. He was re-elected as mayor in 1999, the same year he was first elected to the Assembly.

After Sires was re-elected to the Assembly in 2001, the Democratic members deadlocked over who the next speaker should be. Camden County Democratic Party boss George E. Norcross III pushed for Assemblyman Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden, while North Jersey Democrats wanted longtime Assembly Minority Leader Joseph V. Doria Jr., the mayor of Bayonne. In a compromise deal, McGreevey tapped Sires for the top spot to help bridge the rift between northern and southern New Jersey.

Roberts was named majority leader, the caucus' number two spot. Sires was elected to a third Assembly term and a third mayoral term in 2003.

-- Lilo H. Stainton, Gannett State Bureau

Hudson County Facts Winter 2006 by Anthony Olszewski
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