eo Smith a few minutes before the ceremony, "and it is an even greater day for the city of Bayonne."
Smith was officially sworn in after some doubt about whether or not the election could be certified in time.
"This certification is still warm from being printed," joked County Executive Tom DeGise, after staff from the county's election office worked over the weekend to count provisional ballots in order to provide a complete count of the election.
DeGise was among a host of other dignitaries from around Hudson County who came to show their support. Among those who attended were Rep. Albio Sires, state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, Mayor Dennis Elwell of Secaucus, Mayor Richard Turner of Weehawken, and Mayor Sal Vega of West New York.
Although a supporter of Smith's opponent in the special election, Assemblyman and Bayonne Councilman Anthony Chiappone also attended, along with Acting Bayonne Mayor Terrance Malloy, councilmen Ted Connolly, Vincent Lo Re, John Halecky and Gary La Pelusa, and other local dignitaries and elected officials.
Smith was the top vote-recipient in a five-man race that included retired municipal Judge Patrick Conaghan, former Mayor Richard Rutkowski, Zoning Commissioner Ray Rokicki and City Clerk Robert Sloan.
Smith received slightly over 45 percent of the more than 20,000 votes cast in a special election to fill the vacated seat of former Mayor Joseph Doria, who resigned in October 2007 to take the position as commissioner of the state's Department of Community Affairs.
Smith will serve until the next regular election in May 2010, which will determine the next mayor.
Smith, 45, told the hundreds of well-wishers who packed the Dorothy Harrington Council Chambers that among his first acts as mayor would be to improve communications between his office and the residents of the city.
"I am humbled and honored to stand before you tonight as the mayor of Bayonne," Smith said. "The election we just completed is testimony to the orderly nature of our democracy and that the will of the people is paramount overall."
Smith thanked outgoing Acting Mayor Terrence Malloy for "his careful and judicious management" of the community since taking over as acting mayor in November 2007.
"When I was contemplating running for the office of mayor, many people asked me, 'Why would you want to do that?'" Smith said. "The general consensus was the job as mayor was a thankless one. The hours are long; the responsibilities are endless; the pitfalls many."
Smith said he had a wonderful life and many opportunities he's enjoyed, and the Bayonne community has been "woven into the very fabric of my being."
"I thought about my city and what it means to me and my family," he said. "I've been very fortunate. I've had the opportunity to have a great career in law enforcement. I have a wonderful, beautiful wife and two wonderful children. I have more than anyone could ever hope for. But still, something was missing. I thought of the old axiom that said, 'To those that much is given, much is expected.' I realized this is something that had to be done for the good, for the right, and for the city of Bayonne."
The city is in trouble, he said.
"Our municipal government costs more to run than we take in," he said.
Taxpayers can't afford to pay increased taxes, yet at the same time, residents are used to receiving the highest level of services from the government.
"This issue is at the front and center of the public discourse of the day," he said. "What should our city do? What should our city stop doing? And more importantly, how do we pay for it?"
These are questions, he said, his administration will be considering on a daily basis as it moves forward.
"Our Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor continues to be at the center of controversy, instead of an engine of prosperity for this community," Smith said, declaring that the resolution for ongoing litigation with the Port Authority of New York would be "a top priority" of his administration.
The Port Authority sued the city after the city voided a land deal last year. Although the city has prevailed in court, the Port Authority is currently appealing the court's decision.
"The problems and challenges we face will not be solved in the first few days, the first few weeks, perhaps not even the first few months, perhaps even not in my first administration," he said. "But we must begin to work together. We must abandon political differences that separate us and find common ground for the common good of this community."
Although the process will be difficult, he believes the end result will reward the city and its residents.
Continuing his promise to bring change to Bayonne's government, Smith said he has commissioned a transition team to examine each facet of municipal government with and eye on "reducing spending, consolidating services, and increasing efficiencies."
"The efforts of this team will serve as the foundation for reinventing our government," Smith said.
While he said there will be growing pains and some unhappy times, the city will change the way it does business.
Communication, he said, will be the key to success.
"The people need to know what we are doing and why we are doing it," he said.
To this end, he is instituting three new initiatives, including night hours on Tuesday evenings. City Hall will be open again at 5:30 p.m. to hear the concerns of residents.
City government will also better use its cable access station to keep people informed about what is going on in City Hall and why things are being done.
He also asked for residents interested in serving the city to submit their resumes for consideration for service on the city's boards.
"There are other ideas floating out there," he said. "We will fix what is broken and make what is working work better."