In early December, Renato da Silva was happily working for the New York City Department of Education. He was enjoying his music, his family and his life in Kearny. Then, when it came time to fill Mayor Carol Jean Doyle’s Third Ward Town Council seat, the Democratic County Committee proffered three names to present to the council to fill the seat.

One of those names was da Silva’s — and ultimately, he was chosen by a 5 to 3 council vote to fill the next year of Doyle’s unexpired term. At the time, we didn’t know how he got there. But after an hour-long phone call with the new councilman, we found out the “how” among other things.

Initially, we headlined the story announcing his choice as “Councilman Who?”

Very little was known about him at the time. However, through our conversation, we learned he was, in fact, a member of the Democratic County Committee.  He was not present, however, when the three names were chosen. He was, however, one of more than a dozen people who serve on the County Committee for the Third Ward in the party.

Renato da Silva

We also learned this was not his first foray into local politics. In 2012, he ran for the Kearny Board of Education and came in sixth place among 10 candidates vying for the top three positions. That year, the race was hotly contested and there had been some consternation on the board as it was then constituted. He did get 939 votes in an election where the third-place finisher (and final victor) had 1,830 votes.

So, off the bat, he faced a rough road, one he wasn’t able to overcome. And he says he got a late start on campaigning in 2012, too.

“That was a very tough election,” da Silva said of his run nearly a dozen years ago. “I believed, at the time, I had something to offer, but it didn’t work out. As a father and husband, I believed I could help refocus the board.”


Well, da Silva has experience in education policy as well as graduate degrees. And, he has led and managed people in his role in New York City, so he believed that would be beneficial for the board then, and now as a councilman.

First, some more background

Before we get into more of who da Silva is, first, this.

He says he is running as a Democrat in the June 2024 primary election. The winner of the election in November will serve through 2025. (Yes, there will be another election for the same seat next year.) However, it is no forgone conclusion da Silva will cruise to the seat in ways previous Democrats have in many recent, uncontested elections.

Fred Esteves, himself a Democratic County committeeman, is also expected to run for the seat as a Democrat. Esteves is the brother-in-law of former Kearny Mayor and Hudson County Superior Court Judge Alberto G. Santos.

There have been rumblings of others considering running on the Democrat side. And, it would hardly be shocking of the Republican Party, which had a very strong showing in the 2023 election for both mayor and a Second Ward council seat, fielded a candidate.

Even still, beyond the June election, there could be any number of non-affiliated candidates running in the general election in November against the GOP and Democrats’ nominees. So, in all likelihood, 2024 could be as contentious as 2023 was in Kearny, all to serve just for one additional year.

Who is Renato da Silva?

Our discussion with da Silva was frank and honest.

For the sake of transparency, we have mutual friends, including the-late Jeff Humphrey, of Kearny, about whom I wrote a column in The Observer after he was tragically killed in a freak car crash on the NJ Turnpike on June 8, 2014.

I had known Jeff since 1985 and da Silva was a year ahead of him at Kearny High School — da Silva was in the Class of 1988 and Jeff was in the Class of 1989.

Through our discussion, we learned da Silva has a great appreciation for the arts, most especially music. He has played in bands throughout his life and hopes one day, sooner than later, Kearny has a physical place where one could go to see live performances, including, perhaps, at the soon-to-be-built recreation center at 65 Oakwood Ave.

“I believe Kearny has so much potential,” da Silva said. “There is so much history here. The Third Ward is so vibrant.”

da Silva says Kearny’s history is very important to him and why he loves it here so much. He recalls the days where there were a lot of Scottish and Irish brogues about town and he believes it’s important to remember those days and the contributions they made to the community.

“We should celebrate our heritage,” he said. “Sure, things have changed. But the culture in this town has been so strong for so long — since its inception. We must celebrate that.”

One way he would like to celebrate that past is at the Kearny Museum. The new councilman, who serves as the council’s liaison to the museum, says he’d ultimately like to see more added to an already rich offering of the town’s history.

Da Silva believes he will continue to get questioned by residents about concerns like loud music coming into his ward from out of towners, and to facilitate this and more, he says he’s in the midst of a walking tour of the Third Ward to meet as many residents as he can to hear their concerns.

He also believes it is too soon for him to take a hardline stance on the Essex-Hudson Greenway one way or the other until more input is received.

A fire on his block

Da Silva was unexpectedly part of an unfortunate incident last month when a fire struck a home on Hamilton Avenue, just a few doors away from his own home, where he lives with his wife, Dawn, and his two sons, Martin, 20, a student at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and Adrian, 17, a student at High Tech High School.

“It was just phenomenal to see how the community came together for such a tragic event,” da Silva said. “I was at home when it was happening and I had a sense something was wrong. So I put on my coat and went over and it was terrible to see what was going on.”

The councilman remained on scene and was instrumental, along with the mayor, in ensuring the Red Cross came to the scene to help the family. He says it was also a time when he got a greater appreciation for the town’s first responders.

“It was great to see the police department and the fire department come together for their work,” da Silva said. “They did a tremendous job that day and every day.”

Learn more about the writer ...

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.