Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise will retire in 2023, according to local media reports.
The New Jersey Globe first broke the news that DeGise has begun phoning local Democrats to tell them he is not going to run again when his term expires next year. The Hudson County View corroborated this.
The Hudson Reporter has not been able to contact the aforementioned anonymous sources, and DeGise did not respond to the Hudson Reporter‘s requests for comment and or an interview on the subject. However, DeGise later exclusively spoke with TAPinto, confirming he would not seek re-election in 2023.
DeGise, who would be 72 years old on Election Day next year, has been in politics for almost three decades. The former school teacher is opting to end his 29-year career instead of seeking another term.
In 1993, DeGise began his relatively successful political career after he was elected to the Jersey City Council. He served on the council for eight years as Council President, and then went on to run for mayor in 2001.
Although he lost to Glenn Cunningham, the following year DeGise took his current post as County Executive. He won a special election in 2002 to fill out the remainder of the term of then-County Executive Robert Janiszewski who resigned in 2001 and plead guilty to federal corruption charges.
In 2003, DeGise was elected to a full term as County Executive. He was subsequently re-elected four times, in 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019.
Survived the ‘civil war’
The news is not necessarily unexpected. Rumors that DeGise had been mulling retirement had been making the rounds since at least February of this year.
Additionally, in the winter of 2018, Hudson County officials including Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Union City Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, West New York Mayor at the time Felix Roque, among others, conspired to oust DeGise prompting a civil war in the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
However, DeGise ran for re-election and won with the support of North Bergen Mayor and State Senator Nicholas Sacco, Bayonne Mayor James Davis, Harrison Mayor James Fife, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, Kearny Mayor Al Santos, then-East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith, and Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, as well as U.S. Rep. Albio Sires of the 8th Congressional District.
DeGise turned around and worked with his daughter, Amy DeGise, then a Jersey City Board of Education Trustee, to see her run and be elected chairwoman of the HCDO over Stack. She essentially helped secure his re-election in 2019 unopposed.
Since then, the party divide has largely healed. This is most evident in Fulop choosing the younger DeGise to successfully run on his council slate in 2021, leading to her being elected an at-large councilwoman after not running for re-election as chairwoman for the HCDO.
While a boon to the older DeGise in the past, the younger DeGise has been more a bane recently as she finds herself at the center of scandal following a hit-and-run against a cyclist who ran a red light. Amid the backlash, DeGise has so far stated she will not resign amid call by some politicians, cycling groups, and residents to do so.
Now the older DeGise is hanging up his spikes, leaving room for someone new to take the helm in 2023 when his term expires. Sources say that the “logical choice” to replace DeGise would be his Chief of Staff Craig Guy, who is also not a stranger to Jersey City and Hudson County politics.
Guy would only run if DeGise does not run, however. If Guy runs, sources say he would be a shoo-in for the county line.
So far, Guy has already filed a campaign account with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJELEC). Records show has received $1,000 donations from Fulop, Stack, Sacco, and Davis, as well as current HCDO Chairman and Chairman of the Hudson County Board of Commissioners Anthony Vainieri.
However, amid the outrage against the younger DeGise as well as the Democratic establishment, it is likely that Guy is the guy, he will face a progressive challenger next year. Who that will be, remains to be seen.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.