Belleville deputy mayor honored by Freeholders

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NEWARK, NJ — Belleville Deputy Mayor Vincent Cozzarelli was honored by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during its Italian Heritage Month celebration at the Hall of Records on Oct. 5. Cedar Grove Deputy Mayor Michael Maffucci, Essex County administrator Ralph Ciallella and former West Orange Deputy Mayor Michael Fabiano were also honored.

Freeholder Vice President Gill presented Cozzarelli as a “good friend” and someone who stepped-up to introduce him to the Belleville community. “Not just politically, but to take a chance on someone looking to proudly give back to the community,” Gill said.

An appreciative Cozzarelli spoke of the love and respect for family that he has been taught through his Italian culture. He thanked his family who were present, and acknowledged his father who died last year, “but I know he is here with me today,” he said. In a comedic moment, Cozzarelli described himself as being “more than Italian” because of his most cliche Italian name: “Vinny Anthony Cozzarelli.” In closing, he thanked freeholders Leonard Luciano and Gill for their leadership in hosting the event and noted, “It is rare to see young people in politics that are so dedicated to the public. There is no better example than the two of you and to be honored by two of my mentors is truly humbling.”

A third-generation, lifelong Belleville resident, Cozzarelli graduated from Belleville High School and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark in 2005. With a strong engineering and technical background, he has accumulated more than 10 years of business and management experience running his own company. Additionally, he devotes much of his time to the community through volunteer work and civic involvement.

Cozzarelli is serving his third term on the Belleville Township Council, where he has served the 3rd Ward since 2011. He has served as deputy mayor from 2012 to 2013 and from 2016 to 2017. He works continuously with his fellow councilmembers to accomplish such goals as stabilizing taxes, increasing public safety and continuing free recreation programs.

To his credit, he has worked with qualified local and national developers to bring beneficial commercial projects, affordable senior housing and low-impact residences that comply with strict COAH regulations. He is a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Historic Preservation Committee and the Sept. 11 Memorial Park Committee. He is on the committee for the Nutley Belleville Columbus Day Parade, has been president of Belleville UNICO since 2012 and is a past trustee of the Belleville Irish American Association.

An emotionally moving speech was given by Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones Jr., who acknowledged his dear friend and colleague, Fabiano, who was acknowledged posthumously.

The opening and closing prayers were offered by the Rev. Thomas D. Nicastro of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church of Nutley, and guests were entertained by melodic tunes from tenor Ben Blais, a 15-year-old junior from Columbia High School in Maplewood, who wowed the audience with his renditions of “Beautiful City” from the Broadway musical “Godspell” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” made famous by Frank Sinatra. A catered reception for the honorees and their guests followed the program.

Photos Courtesy of Glen Frieson