NEWARK, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Essex County Surrogate Alturrick Kenney were sworn into office during an afternoon inauguration ceremony at Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology on Wednesday, Jan. 2. DiVincenzo was sworn into his fifth term as executive, Fontoura his 10th term as sheriff and Kenney his first term as surrogate. Showing their support for DiVincenzo, Fontoura and Kenney were U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill, and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones.
“I am humbled by the confidence and trust that the public has placed in me to serve as their Essex County executive. I have the same passion and energy to serve our 800,000 residents and 22 municipalities today that I had when I was first elected 16 years ago,” DiVincenzo said. “We have accomplished so much to strengthen our finances, modernize our parks and infrastructure, and enhance services and programs to assist our residents. We have transformed Essex County and have to continue to work hard to maintain the high standards of government service that our residents deserve.”
DiVincenzo was first elected as Essex County executive in 2002 and has been re-elected to his fifth term. He is the fifth and longest serving county executive in Essex County history. Previously, he was appointed to the Board of Freeholders in 1990, elected in 1991 and re-elected four times. In his 13 years on the Freeholder board, he served as president for eight years and vice president for three years. Under his leadership, Essex County earned its first-ever Aaa bond rating and the new Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology was opened.
DiVincenzo was administered the oath of office by Booker. Holding the Bible for him was his son Joseph, joined by granddaughter Hailey Root.
“Safety and security are among the primary concerns of our residents no matter where they reside. We will continue to work cohesively with our law enforcement counterparts throughout Essex to make sure our communities remain as pristine and safe as possible,” Fontoura said. “I am proud to lead the men and women of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, which is one of the premiere law enforcement agencies in the country.”
Fontoura was appointed sheriff in 1990, elected in 1991 and is entering his 10th term. He has served as sheriff for 31 years and is the longest tenured sheriff in Essex County history. He is responsible for operating the largest and most active Sheriff’s Department in New Jersey and providing security for the state’s largest Superior Court Vicinage. Prior to becoming sheriff, he rose through the ranks of the Newark Police Department, joining the force in 1967 and attaining the rank of captain and chief assistant to the police director. Fontoura was the moving force in having the Sheriff’s Office implement a K-9 Unit and Bomb Detection Unit, and the Sheriff’s Bureau of Narcotics is the oldest and most active unit of its kind. He has also implemented a new state-of-the-art security system for the Essex Vicinage courts system and a more efficient records management system. The Sheriff’s Office also coordinates its efforts with law enforcement agencies on the municipal, county, state and federal levels.
Fontoura was administered the oath of office by Essex County Vicinage Assignment Judge Sallyanne Floria. Holding the Bible for him was his grandson, David Fontoura.
“I have dedicated my life to public service and becoming the surrogate is an opportunity to assist residents when they are at the most vulnerable time of their life. I look forward to continuing the tradition of making the Surrogate’s Office accessible and efficient,” Kenney said. “I am truly humbled with the opportunity to serve as your next Essex County surrogate and do not take your vote lightly. As a young man growing up in Newark, it’s a surreal feeling to witness nearly 175,000 residents throughout the county choose my name whether they knew me personally, relied on your word for support, or used blind faith and believed the Democratic Party chose the right candidate to follow a giant in the honorable Ted Stephens and others who served in the office from former Newark Councilman Earl Harris, Assemblyman Tom Giblin and Judge Joseph Brennan. I also understand the tremendous responsibility entrusted in me.”
Kenney was elected surrogate to replace Theodore Stephens II, who left office after being appointed as Essex County prosecutor. Prior to elected office, Kenney served as manager for Port Activities and Business Development, and was the liaison between the city of Newark and the Port Authority of NY and NJ. While there he was responsible in helping to create the Council of Port Performance Workforce Development and for finding jobs for Newark residents at the Port. Earlier, he served as deputy mayor of the city of Newark and as a member of the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board. Kenney has received the Excellence in Business and Community Service Award from Project Re-Direct/Youth and Family Services, Newark NAACP Award for Community Service and acknowledged by the United Way of Metropolitan DC for advocating for after-school programs.
Kenney was administered the oath of office by Newark Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad. Holding the Quran for him was his wife Jheryn, daughter Yasmin and son Elijah.
Imam Mustafa El-Amin from Masjid Ibrahim in Newark presented the invocation; Father Ed Leahy, headmaster of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark and president of the Essex County Schools of Technology Board of Education, presented the benediction. Students from the Payne School of Technology sang the national anthem and “This is Me.”
Photos Courtesy of Glen Frieson