Throughout his time in Trenton, Sires has helped to bring financial aid to the 33rd District for school construction, education grants, and physical and landscaping improvements to surrounding municipalities.
"People have been happy with the work we have done in the Assembly, and I will continue to work hard to make sure the district gets its fair share," said Sires.
With Election Day quickly approaching, Sires has been campaigning and sending literature to the constituents of the 33rd District to remind them to vote on Nov. 8.
"I'm just telling people of our accomplishments [in the Assembly]. I think the fact that I have been able to deliver to the district for so many years will be taken into account by the voters. But you always have to run as if you were behind," said Sires.
Sires and fellow incumbent Assemblyman Brian Stack, also mayor of Union City, are facing off against Republican challengers Alejandria Rodriguez and Richard Valdes, and independent Christopher Mango, for re-election.
The 33rd District encompasses the townships of West New York, Union City, North Bergen, Guttenburg, Weehawken, Hoboken and part of Jersey City.
Assembly record Throughout his three terms in the Assembly, Sires has been a successful sponsor of many new bills passed into law. During the 2004-2005 legislative session alone he was the primary sponsor or co-sponsor of about 63 bills, many of which passed. Some positive outcomes of the bills include appropriating a $120,000 grant from the Garden State Green Acres Preservation Trust Fund for Save Ellis Island, Inc. to develop lands for recreation and conservation purposes, and $18,000,000 and $4,979,092 in grants for various historic preservation projects in the state.
"We recently signed into law [a bill] to clean the brownfields in the district so they could be put back to use and municipalities could turn them into ratables, parks and open space," said Sires.
Sires also sponsored a bill to increase the amount of bonds issued for county college capital projects, which shows his continued endorsement for funding in education projects, quality programs and school construction for the 33rd District, despite the publicized financial troubles of the School Construction Corporation.
"This district is getting a great deal of [funding] that has been invested in school construction," said Sires. "[For example] West New York is building three new schools and fixing up a fourth school, and Union City has about six [current projects]."
Sires has brought millions of dollars for new school construction to the district, and both West New York and Union City celebrated the opening of their new middle schools last year.
"We were cut in money [for school construction] but were not completely dried up in funding for the district," said Sires.
One of Sires' focuses has been making sure the district gets its fair amount of state aid, especially for education and development. New residential and school constructions have been changing the face of Hudson County and evolving the waterfront, although there has been some protest that these developments led to the demise of landmarks in the county. Union City's historical Roosevelt Stadium was recently demolished to make room for the new Emerson High School, which will feature a new state-of-the-art stadium.
"The problem we have is that the district is so congested. West New York, for example, is 200 years old," said Sires. "However, the benefits we get are brand new schools with new labs, classrooms, state of the art equipment, and places for kids to play."
Despite that, Sires claims to understand the importance of preserving certain sites and has worked on establishing laws to protect some of these historical landmarks, such as the Jersey City Armory.
Preserving succession This year the state Assembly also passed the amendment to establish the office of lieutenant governor, of which Sires was a primary sponsor, to improve upon gubernatorial succession in case of resignation or removal from office. The amendment is also up for final approval on the November ballot for New Jersey voters.
"If it passes, we will have a lieutenant governor by 2009," said Sires, who has no current aspirations for the position.
The bill was prompted by the messy transition the governor's office had to contend with after James McGreevey resigned. At one point there were seven acting governors in seven days until Acting Richard Codey was appointed into office.
"This just makes it more orderly and less confusing," said Sires.
Among his other accomplishments, Sires has passed legislation to improve the Department of Motor Vehicles, been instrumental in bringing funding for the preservation of historical sites and renovations for parks and streetscapes around the district, and helped establish laws to provide senior citizens aid with medical prescriptions and care.
Future plans Over the next few years, Sires hopes to continue acquiring more funding for school construction projects, stem cell research, health care services and benefits, and especially securing affordable housing.
"We need to strike a balance between [housing for] seniors, affordable housing and real estate in the community," said Sires. "As legislators it is our responsibility to make sure there is a balance for affordable housing that serves the needs of [residents]."
Sires has served as Assembly speaker for the last four years but decided not to run for speaker again if re-elected to the Assembly.
In an interview last May about the primary elections, Sires told the Reporter, "I've been speaking for over four years, and I just feel it's time to move on and give somebody else an opportunity to come and speak."
The standard tenure of an Assembly speaker is roughly about three to four years. Sires has said he supports Joseph Roberts, the Democratic majority leader, for that position.
Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.