A few months into his fourth term as mayor of West Caldwell, Joseph Tempesta was recognized last Thursday for more than 25 years of public service.
West Caldwell Councilmen Stan Hladik and Tom O’Hern hosted a dinner for “Mayor Joe” at the Fairfield Executive Inn/Best Western in Fairfield. About 200 family members, friends and supporters were in attendance.
"It is a privilege and honor to serve," Tempesta said. "I haven't lost the zest for doing it."
But what is the first official duty Tempesta ever accomplished for the township? Longtime friend Bob Rabino Jr. said he and Tempesta—as young men employed by the town—were asked to make a Taylor ham, egg and cheese run on their first morning working in West Caldwell’s maintenance department.
On a more serious note, Rabino said his longtime friend had his sights set on becoming mayor from a young age. “Someday you know, I’m going to be the mayor of West Caldwell,” Tempesta would tell him.
Thursday evening was filled with reminiscing and roasting. All those who spoke, however, referenced Tempesta's dedication to the community he has lived in since he was eight years old.
Tempesta served numerous terms as a councilman before being elected mayor. He's a former chair of the Environmental Commission and has served on the Planning Board for 25 years. His accomplishments, according to his supporters, are in the area of shared services, recreation programs and public/private partnerships.
With March marking the 175th birthday of U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who was born in Caldwell, Essex Fells Mayor Ed Abbot used a quote of Cleveland's in his remarks to describe Tempesta's leadership: “What is the use of being elected or reelected, unless you stand for something?”
Former Caldwell Mayor Paul Jemas spoke of the symbiotic relationship Tempesta fosters with neighboring communities. Jemas recalled how Tempesta wanted to be the first paid member of the . He said Mayor Joe believes, “What’s good for one community is good for another.”
Jemas said, “Joe is someone I would want for my mayor.”
Joseph Tempesta was born in Yonkers in 1959 and moved to West Caldwell in 1968. He went to and St. Aloysius School before enrolling at Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair. Tempesta attended Montclair State College where he played baseball.
The mayor well celebrate his 25th anniversary with his wife, Ann, this June. They have a 22-year-old son, Joe, who is a senior at the University of Massachusetts.
Joe introduced his dad by saying, "You couldn't have asked for a better father."
Guests Thursday included former and present mayors, as well as police and fire chiefs, from around West Essex.
The council presented Tempesta and his wife with a gift certificate for a weekend away.