By defying tradition, Vega successfully succeeded himself as chairman, something that had not been done in more than a decade.Vega said because of the tradition for changing power yearly, the chairman became "a lame duck" the moment he was appointed.
"In this way, at least it is possible for a chairperson to serve more than one year at a time, provided that person has the support of the majority of the freeholders," Vega said.
By breaking the old rules, Vega gave strength to the freeholders by establishing a consistent and predictable order of authority.
"People in this county know who they will be dealing with from year to year," he said when he won his second term as chairman.
Earlier this month, Vega was sworn in by County Executive Thomas A. DeGise to his seventh consecutive term as chairman of the Hudson County Board of Freeholders.
No other chairman in the board's history has served that many consecutive terms.
This was not the first tradition Vega had defied. Vega had succeeded in becoming chairman in a move that did away with the traditional rise in ranks. By custom, Vega, who was then serving his first term as freeholder, would have had to advance through ranks of pro tempore chairman and then vice chairman before he could serve as chairman. Goals
Vega expressed his appreciation and his sense of honor that his colleagues have elected him to an unprecedented seventh term. He vowed to keep working on making the freeholder board an equal partner in county government, and he promised even more open communication with the public.
In addition to his freeholder duties, Vega serves as a commissioner in West New York and has been named as a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Human Services and Education Steering Committee. After the recent Democratic convention in Boston, he also received a commission as a Kentucky colonel from Governor Ernie Fletcher of the State of Kentucky, joining such luminaries as Winston Churchill, John Glenn, Lyndon B. Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Carol Channing, Whoopi Goldberg and Tiger Woods, who have also been thus honored.
Other officers sworn in were Freeholder Barry Dugan of Bayonne, vice chairman, and Freeholder Thomas Liggio as chairperson pro tempore. Also, Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons was sworn in as a voting member to the New Jersey Association of Counties, with Freeholder Jeffrey Dublin as alternate, and County Administrator Abe Antun as second alternate. Register's office brings in revenues
In other news, Barbara Donnelly, Hudson County register, handed the freeholder board the news that the revenues collected during 2004 actually exceeded expectations. "Our original estimate for the 12-month period in 2004 was $38 million," she said. "I am pleased to report that this truly was a conservative estimate. The actual closing balance for the 12 months of 2004 is $42,745,100."
Donnelly said the ongoing real estate boom that Hudson County is experiencing has meant a record amount of revenue generated by her office.
"In addition, we have been able to hire additional county residents to work in my office and to handle the incredible amount of paperwork generated by this escalation in real estate transactions," she said.
To get an idea of the magnitude of the increase, she presented the board with figures for the last three years. In 2002, her office collected $13,614,331 in revenues through her office. In 2003, this figure rose to $20,064,804. But 2004's collection doubled the 2003 numbers.
"I am optimistic that revenues will grow in 2005," she said.