Brian P. Stack

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This article is about the politician from New Jersey. For the comedian on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, see Brian Stack.
Brian P. Stack
Brian P. Stack.jpg
Stack during a parade in Union City
September 11, 2011.
Member of the New Jersey Senate from the 33rd Legislative District
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 8, 2008
Preceded by Bernard Kenny
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 33rd Legislative District
In office
January 13, 2004 – January 8, 2008
Personal details
Born (1966-05-16) May 16, 1966 (age 48)
Political party Democratic
Residence Union City, New Jersey
Alma mater Emerson High School
Occupation Mayor, Union City, New Jersey
Website Legislative web page

Brian P. Stack (born May 16, 1966) is an American Democratic Party politician who serves in the New Jersey Senate, where he represents the 33rd Legislative District and has also served as the Mayor of Union City, New Jersey since 2000. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served in the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, the General Assembly from 2004 to 2008. He has been considered by PolitickerNJ to be one of the most powerful elected officials in Hudson County, New Jersey.[1] In 2012 the Hudson Reporter named him #2 in its list of Hudson County's 50 most influential people, behind North Bergen mayor Nicholas Sacco.[2] In 2013, he and Sacco were tied at #3,[3] and in 2014 he was ranked #16.[4]

Early life[edit]

Brian P. Stack was born May 16, 1966[5] in Jersey City, New Jersey. At a young age he moved to Union City.[6] Stack says he became involved in politics through his mother,[7] Margaret.[8] As Stack explained to a reporter when he was 19, "I remember when I was about 6 or 7 years old being at the Doric Temple polling place on election day just sitting and listening to the local politicians. I would probably say I dedicated my high school years to politics when I guess I should have been more into school activities. My classmates would call me 'mayor'. But I always believed it's vitally important for young people to get involved. We are the future."[7]

Stack graduated from Emerson High School. He attended Jersey City State College,[6] graduating with an M.A. in criminal justice.[9]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Stack began volunteering on campaigns for William Musto as a young boy, and was present at age 16 at Musto's sentencing for racketeering and fraud.[10] Musto's conviction shocked many in the community that believed he was wrongly accused.[11] and Stack and his family corresponded with Musto while the latter served time in federal prison.[7] Stack would later honor Musto by naming the William V. Musto Cultural Center on 15th Street after his former mentor.[10] Stack also continued his involvement in politics through his criticism of the administration of Mayor Arthur Wichert.[7]

Stack served as an aide in the 33rd Legislative District office from 1983 to 1984 and from 1986 to 1988. He also became a tenant advocate in 1985. In Union City, he served as an administrative assistant to the Commissioner of Parks and Public Property from 1986 to 1990, and as Deputy Director of Public Affairs from 1995 to 1996.[6]

As mayor and state legislator[edit]

Stack later rose to prominence as the leader of a civic organization called Union City First,[9] and for his public criticism of the administration of Mayor Rudy Garcia. Stack served as a Commissioner from 1997 to 1998, and was appointed to replace Garcia as mayor in October 2000, after Garcia resigned in the face of Stack's call for a recall election.[12] Stack was elected unopposed to the Board of Commissioners in a special election in November 2001 and in May 2002 he and his ticket for the city's Board of Commissioners all ran unopposed.[13] Stack simultaneously won the 7th District seat on the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, where he served from 2000 until his swearing-in to the Assembly in 2004. Stack relinquished his Freeholder position when he was sworn-in to the New Jersey State Assembly on January 13, 2004. Stack was reelected in 2005 and served in the Assembly until 2007.[6][14]

Stack was reelected Mayor on May 9, 2006, winning 9,058 votes, 85% of the vote, compared to the 1,647 votes won by his opponent, Little Ferry Superintendent of Schools Frank Scarafile.[15]

In 2007, Stack ran for the New Jersey Senate in the primary election for the Senate seat held by retiring State Senator Bernard Kenny, with a team of eight other 33rd District Assembly candidates vying for nine legislative seats, under the banner Democrats for Hudson County. Their main opposition was the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO), which was headed by West New York Mayor and then-33rd Legislative District Assembly member Silverio Vega. On June 5, 2007, Stack won the primary, beating his opponents by a wide margin of 18,213 votes to Vega's 5,582, though only three of the candidates in Stack's column, including himself, were victorious.[16][17] Stack and running mates Ruben Ramos and Caridad Rodriguez subsequently swept the state Senate and state Assembly in the November 6, 2007 general election.[18][19] He has served in the Senate since January 8, 2008. Stack was reelected on November 8, 2011, garnering 18,244 votes over opponent Beth Hamburger's 2,815 votes.[20]

Stack represents the 33rd District, one of the 40 districts in the New Jersey Legislature, each of which has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives serving in the legislature alongside Stack from the 33rd District for the 2012-2013 Legislative Session are Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos and Assemblyman Sean Connors.[21]

Stack 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.[22]

Stack being sworn in at Union City High School on May 18, 2010, after he was reelected. Holding the Bible is his mother, Margaret.

Since his first years as mayor, Stack has focused on quality of life issues in Union City, in particular that which was affected by local bars violating liquor licenses for noise and selling alcohol to minors. His initiative to change the mandatory closing time for bars from 3 am to 2 am gained support from local police and city residents, despite opposition from local tavern owners.[23]

In the Assembly, Stack served on the Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee (as Vice Chair), the Transportation and Public Works Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform.[24] 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. Stack represented the 33rd Legislative District together with Senator Bernard Kenny. The district's other Assembly seat was at that time held by Silverio Vega.

Stack and his commissioners were re-elected in a landslide victory on May 11, 2010, over Vision 4 Union City's slate of candidates, headed by recurring opponent Frank Scarafile. Stack won nearly 11,000 votes to Scarafile's nearly 1,200, with Stack's slate, which includes Tilo Rivas, Lucio Fernandez, Maryury Martinetti and Christopher Irizarry, registering a combined total of between 85% and 90% of the vote.[5] Stack and Scarafile, who criticized his opponent for his level of involvement and control in matters he contends are outside the legislative role of mayor, such as board appointments and school hiring, are embroiled in mutual lawsuits over negative campaign literature distributed by Scarafile in December 2009.[25]

Stack has been noted to employ various methods to make himself available to Union City citizens, such as widely publicizing his cell phone number. Since 2000, Stack has spent a few dates each quarter away from City Hall in a "mobile office" tent that is set up at various locations in Union City in order for people who do not have easy access to City Hall to see him. According to Stack, whereas he sees approximately 350 to 400 people a week at City Hall, his mobile office attracts upwards of 300 people a day. Stack, who employs a translator to communicate with Spanish-only speakers, is frequently asked by citizens for assistance in matters such as housing and employment. In July 2010, Stack increased his mobile office appearances to a monthly basis.[26] Among the activities sponsored by his organization, the Brian Stack Civic Association, are annual delivery of free turkeys to the needy and free public Thanksgiving dinners.[27][28]

In September 2010, as controversy arose over the Park51 project in Lower Manhattan, Feisal Rauf, the imam in charge of that project, came under scrutiny by Stack's administration over problems faced by a number of rental properties Rauf owns in Hudson County, including four in Union City, which residents complained had fallen into disrepair, with cited problems including lack of heat, rats, bed bug infestations, and inoperable fire alarms and sprinklers. Stack, who criticized Rauf as a "slumlord", announced the creation of a Quality of Life Task Force that would identify buildings in need of renovations, and filed suit against Rauf to have his properties placed into receivership.[29][30][31] Some Union City residents, however, questioned why the timing of these actions against Rauf's properties did not become an issue in New York City and the national media, and why the long-standing problems faced by these properties were not addressed until the larger controversy over Park51 came to light, particularly given that Stack became mayor in 2000.[32]

Stack and his four-member Board of Commissioners are running unopposed for reelection in the May 2014 election.[33] Stack and the commissioners were reelected on May 13, with over 9,000 votes. Their new term begins that July.[34]

Political positions[edit]

Despite support for the Federal Marriage Amendment by a number of Hudson County clergy leaders,[35] Stack was an advocate of New Jersey's same-sex civil union law. The law, which was signed by governor Jon Corzine on December 21, 2006, and went into effect February 19, 2007, grants same-sex couples the same legal protections and benefits of marriage. Said Stack,

I'm 100 percent behind this. I perform around 200 to 300 marriages a year, and I'll be more than happy to perform civil unions. Whatever change are made, everything else will be exactly the same. We're just waiting to see what the wording will be.

Commenting on opposition to the bill, Stack explained,

The law is a result of the atmosphere in Trenton. Once the legislators saw the polling that people were generally supportive of civil unions statewide, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts really wanted to move the agenda forward quickly while the public support was there. I think over time, people will become even more accepting regarding the idea of marriage. I don't have children at this point in my life, but if I did have a child that was homosexual, I'd want them to have the same rights that everyone else has.[36]

Controversies[edit]

Campaign controversy[edit]

Stack and his staff marching in the North Hudson Cuban Day Parade with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (second from right), June 6, 2010.

Stack and the Union City police were the subject of controversy in July 2005 when it was discovered that Stack had received two campaign contributions totalling $3,500 from Luisa Medrano, a tavern owner indicted on 31 counts for running an illegal immigrant smuggling ring out of her two Bergenline Avenue taverns, El Puerto de la Union II in Union City, and El Paisano Bar and Nightclub in Union City. Both taverns are no longer in operation. Medrano was accused of smuggling young women from Honduras, forcing them to work in bars for little money to pay off their smuggling debts, often incurring physical, emotional and sexual abuse during the operation.[37] Stack responded by asserting that he does not accept contributions from bars and establishments, and explained that "[Medrano] used her name and address in Fairview. We make it practice of not accepting donations from bar owners or establishments, and we do not accept cash." Stack pointed out that Medrano's establishments were not mentioned on the form with which she made the donations, and that he decided to donate the money to the Battered Women's Shelter of Hudson County once the donations were revealed, claiming that in addition to not being aware of the source of the money, he was unaware of the illicit activities going on in the bars. Stack also defended the Union City Police, who are assigned to watch the taverns for quality of life reasons, and who incurred criticism for their apparent ignorance of the goings-on in the taverns, on the same basis, arguing that they only patrolled the streets, but did not enter the taverns when they did so, and thus, could not see what occurred in them.

Some critics remained skeptical of Stack's position, such as then-Republican candidate for Assembly Richard Valdes, who said, "I challenge Assemblyman and Mayor Brian Stack to disclose the nature of his relationship and questionable campaign contributions from Medrano." Stack responded that he never met Medrano until a fundraiser held a year earlier, saying that Medrano was stopped at the door and was turned away from contributing to the event. Valdes also questioned the acceptance, by Stack’s campaign committee, of $5,000 from Union City truck driver David Lopez, who had sold a vacant Union City lot to the Jersey City School Construction Corporation for $1.48 million, after Lopez had already gotten zoning approval and began advertisement for condominiums to be built on it. Stack also stated that he was unaware of that donation, that it was donated to the PERC Homeless Shelter, and that Valdes’ comments were political-motivated.[38][39]

Daycare funds subpoena[edit]

On March 26, 2007, Stack was one of three legislators subpoenaed regarding the disbursement of at least two $100,000 grants that went to the Union City Day Care, which is headed by Stack's estranged wife, Katia, and partially government funded.[40][41] The subpoena was based on a complain by Republican activist Steve Lonegan, who filed 36 conflict of interest complaints against state legislators. A state ethics panel cleared Stack in late November 2009, ruling unanimously that Brian Stack did not benefit from the grants, and that there was no conflict of interest.[42]

Influence on local boards[edit]

In 2007, Stack was accused of developer Ralph Lieber of political favoritism in zoning and building approvals, alleging that Stack influenced the zoning board into voting against a residential building that Lieber wished to build on his property because he was not a political favorite of Stack's. Lieber sued the city for $4 million, later settling out of court for an undisclosed amount.[43][44]

Private use of municipal vehicles[edit]

In January 2011, Stack was criticized in one of Arnold Díaz's "Shame Shame Shame" segments for WNYW Fox 5 for allowing the use of city-owned vehicles by his ex-wife, Katia Stack. Katia is the director of The Union City Day Care Program, a private organization with a $6 million budget, and was assigned by Mayor Stack a car owned by the Union City Police Department, as well as free gas and insurance. The Day Care Program also has at least one other public vehicle. In addition, Díaz reported that the day care center itself does not pay any rent for the city building in which it is housed. Stack stated that his administration did nothing wrong, and that the center's housing and vehicle status was initiated before he became mayor in 2000, but according to Díaz, WNYW did not receive requested documentation of this fact. Díaz states that the car Katia Stack had been using had been returned to the police department parking lot after their investigation began,[45] and that she reimbursed the city for the cost of gas and insurance.[46]

Stack again came under Díaz's scrutiny in February 2013 for the free van rides that residents of the luxury high-rise Troy Towers in Union City are given to Hoboken Terminal, a service that began a few months prior, as indicated in a letter residents of that building received from Stack. The city van, which is normally used to transport seniors, picks up residents three times every weekday morning at the Troy Towers, despite the fact that a public bus stops there as well. Joseph Blaettler, a former Deputy Police Chief of Union City and Mayor Stack's former police liaison,[46] who previously provided information to WNYW for the January 2011 report,[45] criticized Stack for the van rides, accusing Stack of using them to curry favor with Troy Towers voters. Emilio del Valle, a member of the advocacy group Union City Concerned Citizens, also criticized Stack for the taxpayer-funded service, which del Valle said was not needed. When interviewed, Stack stated that he was not attempting to buy the tower residents' votes, but provides the service because they are the largest taxpayers in the city, and that the van service is given to Union City citizen who requests transportation to the terminal, doctor's appointments, etc., and that the citizenry is made aware of this. Díaz countered that the van driver's statements did not support this, nor did WNYW's surveillance of the van, which yielded no instances when it picked up at other locations, nor its interviews with low-income citizens who received no similar letter, and expressed ignorance of the service. According to Díaz, because Union City is classified as a fiscally distressed city, it receives $10 million a year in state aid, and Stack says that the van does not cost the city anything. However, Blaettler questions who pays for the cost of gas, insurance and the driver, who despite Stack's statement, says he is not the same driver who transports seniors during the van's normal operation. Díaz also points out that the service continued even after Hoboken Terminal was closed in October 2012 due to flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, and placed Stack in the program's Hall of Shame for "abusing his power".[46]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[47]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian P. Stack (incumbent) 20,223 86.6%
Republican Beth Hamburger 3,136 13.4%
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[48]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian P. Stack 20,313 100.0%
Democratic hold

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pizarro, Max. "BRIAN P. STACK: 33RD DISTRICT STATE SENATE CANDIDATE". PolitickerNJ. May 23, 2007. accessed January 28, 2012. "A textbook example of a guy who was taken in by the machine, who realized early the only way to survive in Hudson County politics is to build your own machine as a leveraging force, the Union City mayor (and assemblyman) stands to become the most powerful elected official in Hudson County if he prevails against the Hudson County Democratic Organization."
  2. ^ Adriana Rambay Fernández, Stephen LaMarca, Gennarose Pope, Ray Smith, Al Sullivan and E. Assata Wright. "They’ve got the power: Hudson County’s most influential people". The Union City Reporter. January 8, 2012. pp. 1, 4-7 and 10-11. Accessed January 28, 2012.
  3. ^ Cruz, Vanessa; DeChiaro, Dean; Rambay Fernandez, Adriana; Palasciano, Amanda; Sullivan, Al; Wright, E. Assata (January 13, 2013). "Power Surge". The Union City Reporter. pp. 1, 5-7, 10.
  4. ^ DeChiaro, Dean; Sullivan, Al (February 2, 2014). "The 'Power List'". The Union City Reporter. p. 10.
  5. ^ a b Arrue, Karina L. "Landslide Win! 4 more years for Stack slate" Hudson Dispatch Weekly, May 13, 2010, pp. 1 and 4
  6. ^ a b c d "Senator Brian P. Stack". New Jersey Senate Democrats. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d Torres, Agustin (February 19, 1986). "Brian Stack, at 19, is veteran of political wars". The Jersey Journal.
  8. ^ Arrue, Karina (May 18, 2010). "Union City Mayor Brian Stack and commissioners take their oaths of office". NJ.com
  9. ^ a b Brian P. Stack. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved January 16, 2010
  10. ^ a b Mestanza, Jean-Pierre (June 3, 2011). "Union City naming new Cultural Center for discredited ex-mayor". NJ.com
  11. ^ Rosero, Jessica. "The last boss: Former Mayor, State Senator, and Assemblyman William Musto dies at 88". Union City Reporter. March 5, 2006. Accessed March 6, 2008.
  12. ^ Wong, Edward. "Mayor of Union City Resigns Under Fire; Rival Replaces Him", The New York Times, October 25, 2000. Accessed January 29, 2012. "The embattled mayor of Union City, N.J., resigned yesterday, allowing a county official who had been pushing for a mayoral recall election to take office.Mayor Raul Garcia, who has been under fire recently for his economic decisions and his political ambitions, handed his resignation to the city clerk at 3 p.m. Four hours later, Brian Stack, a Hudson County freeholder, was appointed by the Union City Board of Commissioners to the office abandoned by Mr. Garcia."
  13. ^ Nardone, Christine. "Unopposed candidates celebrate UC voters still came out in uncontested election", Hudson Reporter, May 17, 2002. Accessed January 29, 2012. "Although Union City Mayor Brian Stack and his ticket of commissioners were running unopposed in this year's municipal election, close to 9,500 city residents still made it to the polls on May 14 to vote for him.... Stack also ran unopposed in the city's special election this past November."
  14. ^ Senator Brian P. Stack (D), New Jersey Legislature. Accessed September 11, 2011.
  15. ^ Rosero, Jessica. "Stack ticket wins in landslide". The Union City Reporter. May 14, 2006. pp. 1 and 12
  16. ^ Renshaw, Jarrett. "Stack Romps and Sandy Rolls: Vega ticket crushed in 33rd District". The Jersey Journal. June 6, 2007. pp. 4 and 5
  17. ^ Chen, David W. (June 6, 2007). "Voters Send Mixed Signals to Democratic Organization in New Jersey Primaries". The New York Times. Accessed April 11, 2008. "In the 33rd District, Mr. Stack, who is also the mayor of Union City, defeated Mr. Vega, who is also the mayor of West New York. Mr. Stack’s running mates for the Assembly — Ruben J. Ramos Jr. and Caridad Rodriguez — also won easily."
  18. ^ Kaulessar, Ricardo; and Sullivan, Al. "What a shock - Democrats prevail!" Union City Reporter. November 11, 2007
  19. ^ Murphy, Dan. "33rd Dist: Democrats won, unopposed". The Star-Ledger. November 6, 2007. Accessed January 28, 2012. "Democrat Brian Stack, an assemblyman and mayor of Union City, won the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bernard Kenny. Stack ran unopposed. Hoboken Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. and Caridad Rodriguez, an aide to Rep. Albio Sires, won their elections for the district's two Assembly seats. Both are Democrats and ran unopposed."
  20. ^ "Results are in: meet your elected officials". The Union City Reporter. November 13, 2011. Page 2.
  21. ^ Legislative Roster: 2012-2013 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed January 29, 2012.
  22. ^ via Associated Press. "N.J. Lawmakers keep double dipping", WPVI-TV, March 4, 2008. Accessed June 4, 2009.
  23. ^ Archilla, Dylan M. "Former school principal wants to recall Stack Mayor says UC educator's movement is a front for bar owners". The Hudson Reporter. January 17, 2003
  24. ^ "STACK: PROPERTY TAX REFORM PROPOSALS WILL PROVE BENEFICIAL TO ALL NJ SCHOOLS". PolitickerNJ. November 15, 2006
  25. ^ Diaz, Lana Rose (May 16, 2010). "Re-elected!" The Union City Reporter. pp. 1 and 8
  26. ^ Diaz, Lana Rose (July 4, 2000). "Stack hits the streets" The Union City Reporter. pp. 1 and 8
  27. ^ "Holiday Feast". Hudson Dispatch Weekly. December 2, 2010. p. 4.
  28. ^ "Briefs". The Union City Reporter. November 28, 2010, p. 4.
  29. ^ David Lee Miller. NJ Mayor Blasts Ground Zero Imam. Fox News. September 14, 2010 [Retrieved September 14, 2010].
  30. ^ Tirella, Tricia and Diaz, Lana Rose. "'Ground zero mosque' imam is NB resident, UC property owner" The Union City Reporter. September 5, 2010. Pages 3 and 8
  31. ^ Diaz, Lana Rose. "Stack puts landlords on notice" The Union City Reporter. September 12, 2010; Pages 3 and 7
  32. ^ Staff. "North Bergen Briefs: UC sues landlord and 'Ground Zero Mosque' imam". The Union City Reporter. pp. 2 and 5. September 19, 2010. Accessed January 28, 2012.
  33. ^ Sullivan, Al (April 27, 2014). " One-sided ballot: Stack and Union City commissioners run for re-election unopposed". The Hudson Reporter.
  34. ^ Sullivan, Al (May 18, 2014). "Four more years: Unopposed, Stack and Union City commissioners reelected". The Union City Reporter. pp. 1 and 11.
  35. ^ Rosero, Jessica (July 9, 2006). "Local clergy: Only women + men should marry" The Union City Reporter. pp. 1 and 7
  36. ^ Bonamo, Mark J. (January 14, 2007). "I now pronounce you...man and man Local mayors set to carry out state civil unions law". The Union City Reporter pp. 1 and 9.
  37. ^ Standora, Leo (July 22, 2005). "Feds Bust Girl-Smuggling Ring in Jersey". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  38. ^ Rosero, Jessica. "Questionable contributions Assemblyman/UC mayor responds to accusations". The Hudson Reporter. August 28, 2005
  39. ^ Free Campaign websites, Free Candidate Search engine, 24/7 elections and politics
  40. ^ Jones, Richard G. "In New Jersey, 3 More Subpoenas Tied to Special Grants", The New York Times, March 28, 2007. Accessed July 27, 2007. "The subpoenas, which were issued Monday, were sent to two Democratic senators, Joseph Coniglio and Nicholas P. Scutari, and a Democratic assemblyman Brian P. Stack."
  41. ^ "Stack one of 3 subpoenaed in grants probe", The Jersey Journal, March 27, 2007.
  42. ^ "Stack cleared of wrongdoing" The Union City Reporter November 29, 2009; Page 1
  43. ^ Thorbourne, Ken (October 12, 2008). "Union City mayor accused of playing politics with zoning decisions". NJ.com.
  44. ^ "Controversial ex-zoning member promoted in UC schools". The Union City Reporter. November 20, 2011. p. 8
  45. ^ a b "Municipal Cars for Private Daycare Center, Mayor's Ex". WNYW Fox 5. January 26, 2011.
  46. ^ a b c "Report: Union City Mayor Brian Stack Gives Troy Towers Residents Free Rides to Hoboken Path". Hudson County TV. February 7, 2013.
  47. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  48. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012.

External links[edit]