Nicholas J. Sacco
Sacco at a February 2015 job fair at
North Bergen Public Library
|Member of the New Jersey Senate|
from the 32nd Legislative District district
January 11, 1994
|Thomas F. Cowan|
|Mayor of North Bergen|
January 1, 1991
|Born||November 17, 1946|
Jersey City, New Jersey
|Alma mater||B.A. Rutgers University (History) |
M.A. Seton Hall University (Administration and Supervision)
|Occupation||Assistant Superintendent of Schools; mayor, North Bergen, New Jersey; State Senator|
|Website||Legislative web page|
Nicholas J. Sacco (born November 17, 1946) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 1994, where he represents the 32nd Legislative District. Sacco serves in the Senate as the chairman of the Transportation Committee, and is also a member of the Law and Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee. He concurrently serves as mayor of North Bergen as he is allowed to hold two offices under a grandfather clause in a bill that prohibited dual office holding.
Sacco was born in Jersey City on November 17, 1946. He grew up in West New York graduating from Memorial High School. Sacco received a B.A. in 1968 in History from Rutgers University and an M.A. in Administration and Supervision from Seton Hall University in 1973. He is married to but does not reside with, the former Kathleen Ambrose since 1972 and together have one son, Nicholas J. Sacco, Jr., a vice-principal at North Bergen High School.
Sacco was first elected to the North Bergen Board of Commissioners in 1985 as a part of recall elections headed up by Leo Gattoni to clean out corrupt officials in the Township. In 1991, Gattoni retired from the Mayor's office and decided to endorse Sacco as mayor (in North Bergen, the mayor is chosen among members of the Board of Commissioners). Sacco has been reelected every four years, most recently in May 2015. Two years after becoming mayor, Sacco defeated incumbent State Senator Thomas F. Cowan in the Democratic primary election for the 32nd district. He has also been overwhelmingly re-elected to this office since his first election as well.
In addition to serving as a State Senator and as mayor of North Bergen, Sacco previously served as the Director of Primary Education for the North Bergen School District, until his retirement from the position in 2017. Sacco has been Principal of Horace Mann and Lincoln School in North Bergen, and former president and vice president of the North Bergen Council of Administrators and Supervisors which is affiliated with the New Jersey Education Association. He simultaneously holds a seat in the New Jersey Senate and as Mayor. This dual position, often called double dipping, is allowed under a grandfather clause in the state law enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine in September 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.
Sacco is a sponsor of the state's Urban Enterprise Zone legislation, which has helped foster private business investment in urban centers and generates millions of dollars in revenue for North Bergen and other cities. Sacco has also sponsored legislation expanding the use of DNA testing in criminal cases, by having DNA collected from individuals convicted of disorderly conduct offenses that could be compared against databases to help close unsolved crime cases. Sacco has a pro-life voting record in the Senate as reported by the Democrats for Life of America.
In 2012 the Hudson Reporter named him #1 in its list of Hudson County's 50 most influential people. In 2013 and 2014, he was ranked #3 (the first of which tied him with Senate colleague and Union City mayor Brian P. Stack), and #4 in 2015.
Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 32nd district for the 2014-2015 Legislative Session are:
|Democratic||Nicholas J. Sacco (incumbent)||20,098||70.2|
|Democratic||Nicholas J. Sacco (incumbent)||16,413||83.2|
|Republican||Edward T. O'Neill||3,312||16.8|
In 2009 Sacco was sued by April Tricoli when she claimed that he made lewd comments to her and engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment. The case was settled for $90,000.00.
In 2011 another woman, Lydia Coleman, accused Sacco of sexually harassing her by leaving violent and sexually vulgar voice mails on her answering machine, in which he characterized her as "a retard" and "a scumbag", and threatened her job with the North Bergen Board of Education if she did not comply with his advances. Coleman's ethics complaint against Sacco was dismissed because of the statute of limitations involving ethics complaints.
Sacco has been accused of engaging in widespread corruption and nepotism by having many of his family members on the payroll. Sacco has over 10 relatives and over 11 close friends on the Board of Education payroll, who earn over $1.5 million per year. As of February 2019, the matter is currently under investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.
Sacco has been critiqued for being one of the highest paid politicians in the State of New Jersey. Sacco regularly held made positions in the Board of Education paying over $200,000.00 per year. In addition to his functions as a Mayor and State Senator, Sacco earned over $300,000.00.
In 2018 NBC News reported that Sacco was using the North Bergen Housing Authority, which houses seniors and financially struggling people, for political purposes. NBC stated that Sacco's driver, Geoffery Santini, had a no-show job and was often seen driving Sacco when he was supposed to be working. Santini was fired after the NBC probe, and filed his own suit alleging widespread corruption in the Housing Authority.
Sacco has been accused of protecting his political machine by illegally pressuring school teachers to work for and donate money to his political campaigns, lest their lose jobs, promotions or salary increases. As of December 2018, the matter is under investigation.
In 2018, Sacco approved a fracking power plant in North Bergen, which would deliver energy to New York City and New York State, and not New Jersey. Opponents stated it would harm air quality and increase New Jersey's contribution to global warming. None of the Meadowlands towns in Hudson County - Kearny, Jersey City, Secaucus - took a public stance on the issue. Though the project, which will bring in millions in revenue to North Bergen, is supported by Sacco, it is opposed by mayors and citizens of other towns, as well as environmental groups like the Sierra Club, who fear it will increase cancer rates in and around North Bergen. Governor Phil Murphy, who was supported by Sacco, has not commented on about the power plant.
The referendum was passed in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act and was done clandestinely. The town wanted to raise $60 million with the referendum to retrofit an old building, rather than build a new school. The project was widely criticized in the local media and the Jersey Journal wrote an editorial against the project. Mario M. Blanch, Esq. filed an application to stop the project, which was denied by the Superior Court, and is currently under appeal.