|Is||Politician Teacher Businessperson|
|From||United States of America|
|Type||Academia Business Politics|
|Birth||26 January 1951, Bejucal, Cuba|
|Politics||Democratic Party, Republican Party|
Albio B. Sires /ˈælbioʊ ˈsɪrɪs/ (born January 26, 1951) is a Cuban-American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 8th congressional district, serving since 2006. The district, numbered as the 13th district from 2006 to 2013, includes most of northern and eastern Jersey City, as well as most of the Latino neighborhoods of Newark. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He previously represented district 33 in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2000 to 2006.
Albio Sires was born January 26, 1951, in Bejucal, Cuba. He immigrated to the United States with his family at age 11 with the help of relatives in the United States. He eventually settled in West New York, New Jersey; he still lives there today. He attended Public School 4, where he and his brother were two of only three Latinos in the school. Sires learned English from a teacher who used flash cards and phonetics. and subsequently attended Memorial High School, where he was a star basketball player, whose skills on the court helped him obtain a basketball scholarship to Saint Peter's College. He received a B.A. in 1974 in Spanish and Marketing. He received an M.A. in 1985 from Middlebury College in Spanish.
Teaching and business
Sires worked at Memorial High School as a teacher and coach. He also became a successful businessman, and is the owner of the A.M. Title Agency Inc.
New Jersey government
Sires first ran for office as a Republican when he was the nominee for New Jersey's 14th congressional district
Sires was the first Hispanic mayor of the town of West New York and in 2004 he was elected mayor of the year by his fellow mayors.
Sires served as the Speaker of the Assembly from 2002 to 2006 and was the first Hispanic person to serve as New Jersey's Assembly Speaker. He was considered a surprise pick for speaker, since he had only served one term in the Assembly before taking the position. It has been reported that he was elected as speaker after Gov.-Elect Jim McGreevey decided he did not want then Assembly Minority Leader Joseph Doria, a former speaker, to serve as speaker during his governorship.
Sires was an active Democrat in the 1970s and 1980s. He switched to the Republican Party in 1985 and he ran for Congress in 1986 against Frank Guarini. Sires lost that election by a 71% to 26% margin. Sires left the Republican Party in 1994 and became a registered independent. Sires rejoined the Democratic Party in 1998. Just three years later, he became Speaker.
During his tenure as speaker, Sires served as Acting Governor of New Jersey on several occasions, when former Gov. Jim McGreevey and former Gov. Richard Codey left the state. He was the first Hispanic person to serve as an Acting Governor of New Jersey. As Acting Governor, Sires signed several bills into law and performed routine duties of the office.
For the 2006–2008 legislative session, Sires was given the largely honorary title of Speaker Emeritus. Sires is a former Chairman of the Legislative Services Commission. Sires stepped down from his seat in the Assembly, and was replaced by Silverio Vega, who was selected by the Democratic district committee to replace Sires. Vega was sworn into office on December 11, 2006.
Sires was the Mayor of West New York, New Jersey, from 1995 to 2006. Sires was succeeded by Vega, who will retain his mayoral seat while he simultaneously serves in the Assembly, joining three fellow Hudson County mayors — Brian Stack of Union City in the Assembly and both Nicholas Sacco of North Bergen and Joseph Doria of Bayonne in the New Jersey Senate — who serve as both mayors and in the New Jersey Legislature. For many years, it was common for New Jersey mayors to serve in the legislature as well; though this practice of "double dipping" was abolished in 2006, those who had been in multiple positions before the February 1, 2008, cutoff date were grandfathered in and could retain the dual jobs. During the time that Sires served in the Assembly, he was paid $49,000 for his state legislative position while simultaneously being paid $15,000 annually as mayor.
U.S. House of Representatives
Albio Sires has voted with the Democratic Party 93% of the time since joining Congress.
Sires is a member of the Congressional Cuba Democracy Caucus.
- Mass transit
Sires is seen as a "champion of mass transit." He supports federal funding for public transportation projects. He believes that these will ultimately help his constituents.
He was an advocate for a $9 billion "federal, state and locally-funded public transit tunnel from New Jersey to New York that broke ground in June 2009." The project is expected to employ thousands of people.
In March 2012, Sires also pushed for a two-year bill that would help by funding highways and mass transit. He also pushed to extend the current surface transportation bill so the House and Senate can reconcile the differences between the House bill and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
Sires has made affordable housing one of his priorities. Residents of his district pay more for housing – including rent and home prices – than most places in the country. He has supported legislation focused on making housing more affordable.
- Iran deal
Sires was opposed to the nuclear deal with Iran, stating that "I do not feel the agreement will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia
- Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere (Chair)
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
- Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
- Committee on the Budget
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus
In 2006, 13-year incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez moved up to the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine. Sires then entered the race to succeed him. He ran in two Democratic primary elections on June 6, 2006—a special primary for the last two months of Menendez' seventh term, and a regular primary for a full two-year term.
In the special primary to fill the remaining two months, Sires won c. 90% of the vote, defeating James Geron. This all but assured Sires of being the next congressman from this heavily Democratic, Latino-majority district. In the regular primary, Sires beat Assemblyman and Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas in a bitter primary. Sires defeated Vas 68% to 32% and won in Union, Hudson and Essex Counties, while Vas bested Sires in Middlesex County. No Republican even filed, assuring Sires of a full term. However, the 13th is so heavily Democratic that any Republican who opted to file would have faced nearly impossible odds in any event.
Sires faced Republican John Guarini — a salesman and second cousin of former Congressman Frank J. Guarini (1979–93) — who was unopposed for the GOP nomination. Vas did not seek the unexpired term seat. After winning the election with 78% of the vote, Sires was sworn into the House on November 13, 2006, to begin to fill the remaining term of Senator Bob Menendez.
CQPolitics noted "Sires’ likely November victories would cap off his ambitions for a House seat, which he first expressed exactly 20 years ago under very different circumstances. He ran that year as the Republican challenger to entrenched incumbent Guarini, but managed only 27 percent of the vote."
Sires is part of a handful of Cuban lawmakers serving in the House, though, other than during the lone term served by Florida's Joe Garcia from 2013 to 2015, he has been the only Democrat.
The New York Times rated the 13th District as "solid Democratic" in 2010. Sires was challenged by Republican nominee Henrietta Dwyer; he would defeat her with 74% of the vote.
After New Jersey lost a district in the 2010 census, Sires ran for reelection in the 8th District, essentially a reconfigured version of the old 13th. In the primary election, he faced 25-year-old candidate Michael J. Shurin, whose campaign largely focused on the legalization of marijuana.
Awards and honors
On October 4, 2013 Sires' home town of West New York, New Jersey, honored him by renaming its Public School No. 4 the Albio Sires Elementary School. The school, which is located at 6300 Palisade Avenue, is the elementary school that Sires himself attended as a child. In attendance at the October 4 ceremony were West New York Mayor Felix Roque and United States Senator Robert Menendez.
Sires and his wife, Adrienne, live in West New York.