WAYNE — Mayor Christopher Vergano started another term Saturday, telling guests at the municipal reorganization that he felt happy to be reelected and lucky to be alive.
The long-reigning mayor, who had a bone marrow transplant in June, was sworn in with his wife, Deneen, and children by his side. But first, he shared a moment with the judge who administered his oath of office.
"Judge Weiss and I have done this on multiple occasions," Vergano said, hinting at their longevity.
Yes, the magistrate agreed, "But with different-color hair."
Such was the positive vibe as the governing body kicked off the new year. The township attorney and auditor were reappointed without incident, and Councilman Franco Mazzei, of the 3rd Ward, was selected unanimously to be Township Council president.
"Most of you know that I had a very long summer," the mayor said after taking the oath. "But I'm here today, and I'm happy to be here today."
Vergano, 62, vice president of human resources and sales for Hishi Plastics U.S.A. Inc. in Lincoln Park, served on the Board of Education and council before becoming mayor in 2008. He took over for Scott Rumana, who resigned to assume a position in the state General Assembly.
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma — a cancer that attacks plasma cells — in August 2019. His surgical procedure was followed by extended stays at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Vergano's cancer was in remission by November, when he garnered more than 70% of the vote in a sound defeat of Arlene Sullivan, a Democrat.
"Battling what I did made me even stronger than I was before," the Republican mayor said at the reorganization meeting.
Vergano thanked all of his supporters, promising that he and his administration "will not let you down."
"To the 5,576 people who chose not to vote for me," the mayor said, "we'll work harder to take care of you and the people of Wayne."
Also taking oaths Saturday were council members Jill Sasso and David Varano, each returning for a second term, and Councilman Jason DeStefano, embarking on his first.
DeStefano, 34, is the youngest member of the governing body — 53 years the junior of the man he was elected to replace. Former Councilman Joseph Schweighardt stepped down at the end of the year after five terms and a total of 3½ decades of public service.
"Joe certainly left big shoes for me to fill," DeStefano said, "but I look forward to the challenge of filling them."
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Wayne mayor Christopher Vergano sworn in to fourth term