BERGENFIELD, NJ — “I, Arvin Amatorio, do solemnly swear, that I will support the constitution of the United States.”
The son of two Philippine public school teachers, Arvin Amatorio was sworn-in as the new mayor of the borough of Bergenfield in New Jersey on Sunday.
The Baler-Aurora native is the second mayor of Filipino-descent to lead this town of more than 27,000 people — nearly 20 years after Robert Rivas first made history.
“Sana patuloy niyo akong suportahan, para ikarangal natin yung lahing Pilipino.”
“I hope you would continue to support me so we can keep giving pride to the Filipino people.”
This is a historic day for Bergenfield and for the Filipino community.
Some words of wisdom from Rivas, the first Filipino-American Mayor of Bergenfield, who served from 2000 – 2002.
“We have to be very careful, that we always say, we are the Mayor of all the people, not just a certain segment of the population, that way people will feel safe and secure.”
Besides Amatorio, two other Filipinos are holding key positions in the city.
A farmer’s son from Camarines Norte, Salvador “Buddy” Deauna was recently re-elected as councilman for a second term.
And to fill the councilman position left open by Amatorio – the Bergenfield council appointed Pasay City-born Marc Pascual as interim councilman, with an opportunity to run for a full term come November.
In a town where more than 5,000 Filipinos live, the town council is powered by 3 Philippine-born Americans — a first in this side of the U.S.
“It’s a moment of great history in Bergenfield, there are 3 Filipinos now, running this borough, to me it’s a history, I think 2020 is a year for Filipino-Americans,” said Deanua.
“What I would like the Mayor to do, is what he said in his election, to just deliver what he said, and we’re gonna be there to help him deliver and improve the town of Bergenfield.”
Amatorio, in his first speech as mayor, became emotional when he thanked his parents.
Amatorio unseated the Republican incumbent mayor Norman Schmelz by at least 166 votes – -and he admitted it was tough being the target of political attacks.
“When they tried to tarnish my name, they’re not just tarnishing my name, but they’re tarnishing the good name of my family, and the future of my kids.”
But as begins his mayoral term, the 48-year-old Amatorio is raring to prove himself to all of his constituents — as the Filipino community continues to rally behind him.