Councilwoman Vanessa Falco has become the first African-American to hold a leadership position on the Hoboken City Council, having been unanimously selected as the new vice president.
She will act as president if the newly-reappointed Council President Jen Giattino is unable to attend a meeting.
Falco succeeds Councilman Ruben Ramos, who held the one-year vice president position in 2018.
Falco, who was born and raised in Hoboken, became an at-large councilwoman on Jan. 1, 2018, and was the first African-American elected to the city council in November 2017. She currently serves on the council’s Revenue and Finance & Infrastructure Ad Hoc committee, Community Development South Committee, and Youth and Children’s Affairs Ad Hoc committee.
She also chairs the council’s Affordable Housing Committee.
She currently works at Stevens Institute of Technology as assistant director of Pre-College Programs.
Falco was nominated for the position by her former running mate and First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco. The motion was seconded by Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos.
The pair released a joint statement following the Jan. 2 meeting in support of the newly-appointed council leadership.
“Maintaining an independent City Council with a progressive leadership team is essential in our continued effort to push Hoboken forward,” reads the statement. “Tonight, we were proud to support Councilwoman Jen Giattino for another term as council president and our trusted colleague Councilwoman Vanessa Falco as she begins her new role as council vice president. We look forward to continue working closely with Councilwoman Falco in her new role, and negotiate good policy with the administration, so we can make our city a better place for everyone.”
Oath of office
Six ward council members who were elected this past November to four-year terms were also sworn in. Incumbents DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ramos, Michael Russo, and Giattino were sworn in. The only non-incumbent to take the oath was Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen.
Cohen succeeds former Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham, who served on the council for the past 12 years. In July he announced he would not seek reelection in order to devote more time to his professional life and family.
With his family by his side, Cohen was sworn in by his mother, Eleanore Cohen.
Cohen said he was glad she was there to swear him in, noting he held the Bible for her when she took office in 1993 as mayor of Livingston, and now 27 years later, she was able to return the favor.
“What I love about this oath is that it’s the oath that every official who is sworn in takes, from the President of the United States to my son,” she said.
The council also appointed several residents to serve as commissioners to the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, including John Branciforte, and first second and third alternates to the board Steve Firestone, Nicola Maganuco, and Carol Marsh, respectively.
The council also appointed Councilman Jim Doyle to the Planning Board as well as the council appointee to the Hoboken University Medical Center’s Board of Directors.
The council also reappointed Fisher to the Hoboken Business Alliance, which runs the city’s newly created Special Improvement District. Mayor Ravi Bhalla appointed Business Administrator Stephen Marks to the alliance as the mayor’s designee via a memo to the council.
Bhalla also appointed members to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission in a memo to the city council, including Steven Zane, Steve Smolyn, and first and second alternates Thelar Pakar and Cristin Cricco-Powell.