Council bids farewell to Cirilo after 8 years

Photo by Amanda Valentovic
Honoring outgoing Councilman Victor Cirilo, third from left, at his final Township Council meeting on Dec. 11 are, from left, Councilwoman-elect Cindy Matute-Brown, Councilwoman Michelle Casalino, council President Susan McCartney, Councilman Joe Krakoviak and Councilman Jerry Guarino.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Councilman Victor Cirilo’s eight years on the West Orange Township Council came to an end at the Dec. 11 meeting. Cirilo, who lost his bid for re-election in November, served two terms, first taking office in July 2010. In January, Councilwoman-elect Cindy Matute-Brown will take over the seat he vacates.

“Victor is such an excellent, good listener,” council President Susan McCartney said at the meeting while presenting Cirilo with a plaque commemorating his time in office. “He listens to his colleagues, he listens to the community and he has served splendidly in his time on the council. It’s a time to look back with admiration and a time to look forward with anticipation. I’ve enjoyed serving with Victor and his integrity and honesty all of these years.”

Councilwoman Michelle Casalino highlighted Cirilo’s work in the community and said his experience as executive director of the Newark Housing Authority has been valuable to his work in West Orange.

“Your service to the community has been commendable,” she said at the meeting. “I appreciate all of the negotiation you’ve done on behalf of the town. You always try and do your best. You’ve served a need and you should be proud of that. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished and all that you will be accomplishing. It’s been an honor to work with you.”

Councilman Joe Krakoviak, who has also been on the council since 2010, thanked Cirilo for the work he has done in his two terms as councilman.

“It really brings home your dedication and your commitment to public service that you did this for eight years,” Krakoviak said at the meeting. “This is not an easy job to do, and you did it well. You’ve made many contributions up here on the dais for the betterment of our community and I hope you will continue to do that even though you don’t have the job to do. Thank you very much for eight years.”

In his comments thanking Cirilo for his service, Councilman Jerry Guarino joked that despite the fact that he and Cirilo have run campaigns against each other, they still have a strong friendship.

“In the 10 years I’ve known you, you have been a true gentleman and a true colleague and a true friend to the town and the people of West Orange,” Guarino said. “I’ve learned a lot from you and we’ve become friends. I’ll always remember the gentleman you are and the kindness and love that you have for this township.”

Business Administrator Jack Sayers thanked Cirilo on behalf of the administration and Mayor Robert Parisi, who could not be at the meeting.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the administration for all of the work you’ve done over the last eight years with us to get things done for the citizens in this community,” Sayers said. “You’ve done a great job, you’ve been very easy to work with and you’re a very kind and considerate person. It’s been a pleasure to work with you.”

Deputy Mayor Rodolfo Rodriguez also attended the meeting to thank Cirilo and discuss the outgoing councilman’s contributions to the West Orange Hispanic Foundation. Cirilo is a founding member of the organization and the first Hispanic elected official in West Orange.

“If it wasn’t for Victor we probably would not be where we are today,” Rodriguez said of Cirilo’s contributions to the WOHF at the meeting. “It’s been a great experience doing this with the community, and the entire Hispanic community is so happy with the work that you have done with us as a councilman. He’s a great guy and a great friend.”

Cirilo thanked his council colleagues and members of the administration, saying that even though they don’t always agree, they have the common goal of making West Orange a better place.

“You’re doing a really good job with this community,” he said to Sayers. “Sometimes we may disagree with the way the government should be directed or the role of government in what we do, but at the end of the day we have a passion for this community and for our residents and that’s what keeps driving us forward.”

Cirilo also mentioned the residents he spent eight years representing and listening to at council meetings.

“We may disagree with the way government is moving forward but at the end of the day we’re all good people and we have good hearts,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best thing for West Orange. We have to remember that and what keeps us grounded. I know sometimes we go at it and it gets a little heated, but it’s because we have a passion for this community in the same way our residents who come up here have a passion. We do the best that we can to bring those perspectives together and work together. Thank you for the opportunity and thank you to the residents, I’m happy to have been a part of it and will continue to be a part of it.”

Also at the meeting, council members nominated the 2019 council president and liaisons. Guarino was nominated to be council president and a final vote will happen at the Jan. 8 meeting. Regardless of the outcome, Guarino will continue as liaison to the Downtown West Orange Alliance, the Joint Meeting Commission and the Insurance Fund Commission.

McCartney will continue as liaison to the Planning Board and the West Orange Arts Council, and will also take over as liaison to the John P. Renna House from Guarino. She will also sit in the second council seat on the Insurance Fund Commission, taking over for Cirilo.

Matute-Brown will be liaison to the Local Assistance Board and the West Orange Municipal Alliance Committee, both positions previously held by Casalino.

Casalino will take Cirilo’s place as liaison to the Degnan House, in addition to continuing as liaison to the Public Relations Commission.

Krakoviak will continue as liaison to the Open Space and Recreation Committee.