Melham begins term 2 as Belleville mayor after being sworn in by former governor

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There was a lot of pomp and circumstance in the air in Belleville last week.

That, of course, is because Michael Melham promised more of the same — more events, more quality-of-life initiatives, more steady leadership during inevitable crisis situations — as he was sworn in for his second term as Belleville’s mayor along with his council running mates — Naomy DePeña and Thomas Graziano.

Sen. Richard Codey, the former governor of New Jersey, administered the oath of office to the mayor during the township’s reorganization meeting Friday, July 1.

“I do not see the need to change course, for finally Belleville is no longer the butt of jokes, but rather we are the topic of conversation,” Melham said, whose remarks drew applause from the room filled with friends, family, township employees and residents.

Graziano was sworn in by his uncle, Marine Corps retired Lt. Colonel Frank LaMura. He was also selected as the town’s Deputy Mayor by a unanimous vote of the council.

DePeña, who just wrapped up her term as the first Latina to serve as Deputy Mayor, took her oath in Spanish as it was administered by her father, the Rev. Luis Fernandez.

“This is meaningful to me because it’s my heritage,” she said. “It’s a beautiful language, but what unites us is that regardless of the language in which it was expressed, my commitment is to everyone, to serve with the same love …”

The room filled with applause before DePeña could finish her sentence.

Melham said it was an “absolute honor” to have Cody, Democrat, take part in the ceremony and said he stands ready to work with his council colleagues to build an even better Belleville.

“Now is the time to stop the politics of division and abide by the will of the people, the very constituency that overwhelmingly decided to put the Melham team back in office for a second term,” he said.

Cody, who also administered the oath as Steven J. Martino was reappointed as the attorney for the township, used some of his signature humor to make a point about reaching across political ideologies to find common ground — even if it’s from a former Democratic governor to a (registered) Independent mayor.

“We’re all in this together, whether it’s Trenton or Belleville,” he said. “And I know, mayor, you’re not of my party. I don’t care. Why should anybody care? This is about Belleville, not about some party. We’ll get to the party later because he won.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.