Five local Democratic mayors, including Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble, joined County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Sheriff Armando Fontoura and more than a dozen area pastors in endorsing Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday.
With Kimble and other Democratic politicians reaching across party lines to show support for Christie, speakers emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in Essex County.
At McLoone's Boathouse on Tuesday afternoon, local officials and community leaders explained the importance of putting aside political affiliations to better serve the residents of the state.
"It's incredibly gratifying to me that mayors of longstanding and new mayors who understand this partnership that we've developed is one that helps the citizens of their individual communities," Christie said.
DiVincenzo, an 11-year friend of Christie, praised the governor for his response to the disastrous Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey, and although DiVincenzo endorsed Corzine in the last election, it did not affect state support and services in Essex County.
"This county has been served well with him as governor and that's why I crossed party lines," DiVincenzo said. "This [bipartisanship] should happen everywhere and in Washington."
DiVincenzo explained he could have remained neutral in the governor's race, but after watching Christie embrace President Barack Obama one week before the presidential election, he decided to endorse the current governor.
Fontoura, who has also known the governor for years since Christie served as a U.S. District Attorney for New Jersey, he recognized the governor for his engagement in public services. He cited Christie's influence on gun control as well as policies such as no bail for violent offenders and rehab for non-violent drug offenders as major improvements in the state's law enforcement.
"I often say that being a cop is being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing," Fontoura said. "I am completely confident that I am in the right place, at the right time, dong the right thing, supporting Chris Christie for reelection."
Among the local pastors was Rev. Joe Carter, of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, who applauded Christie for his work with Newark schools and honoring Whitney Houston after she died with lowering the flags to half mast despite criticism.
"The black vote is the most loyal vote you can find anywhere in this country," Carter said, explaining that historically leaders in the black community have urged people to vote Democrat. “We stand here today in the African-American community and say we can choose, too."
Christie said the support from the local pastors was, "the most gratifying part of the day," explaining the reason they stood together was to unite for education of the children in their communities.
The Democratic mayors that showed support for the current Republican governor included Rudy Fernandez of Livingston, Mark Ecker of Belleville, Peter A. Hughes of Glen Ridge and Dwayne Warren of Orange.
Fernandez added, "The governor and I might not agree on everything, but it is my responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of Livingston. I believe the reelecting of the governor is best for its 29,000 residents."