Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Calling It a Career

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Calling It a Career

Article excerpt

"I love politics and I love the people I've met along the way. I've worked with both parties and made such long-lasting friends. I will always cherish that."

Roberta Henriquez

Little Ferry Borough Council president

"If you look at some of the projects around town over the last 30 years, Roberta's prints are on every major accomplishment."

Mauro Raguseo

Little Ferry mayor

LITTLE FERRY — Roberta Henriquez, one of the longest-serving council members in Bergen County, will step down from her seat in January, ending a decades-long career in public office.

Henriquez, the council president, is wrapping up her 30th year on the Borough Council. She announced in September that she would not seek reelection, citing health reasons.

"I love politics and I love the people I've met along the way," she said. "I've worked with both parties and made such long-lasting friends. I will always cherish that."

Henriquez had planned to run for another term, but pain and fatigue from the neuromuscular disease myasthenia gravis became too much for her.

"I was in such pain I decided if I can't give 110 percent then I'm no longer going to serve on the council," she said. "If someone calls you with a problem, you need to go and see it for yourself to help them."

Henriquez first got involved in public life through the Little Ferry Board of Education. Her niece was learning the flute in school when the school board voted to discontinue the music program after the budget was defeated at the polls. Henriquez went to a meeting to ask them why and see if there was anything more that could have been done.

"I said: Why didn't you let the people know that there would have to be these cuts?" she recalled.

The board president challenged her and asked her if she had voted.

"I said no. I was embarrassed," she said. "He told me: You should not be up here criticizing, because you should have been out there selling the budget so we could keep these programs."

She decided to run for a seat on the school board in the next election, and served for six years before winning her first of 10 terms on the council in 1987.

A retired administrative assistant for the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education, Henriquez and her husband, Phil, did not have children of their own. But she said she relished the chance to be involved in the community and especially in the lives of borough children.

Friends say her big-hearted love of Little Ferry and its people and her deep knowledge of borough history will be sorely missed.

"It's a big loss. I'm really going to miss her historical knowledge and the sense of humor she brought, which would put everything into perspective," Mayor Mauro Raguseo said. "She's been the conscience of the council, always reminding us of what we're there for and who we're there for — to help the community."

Although Henriquez is a committed Democrat, Raguseo said she worked to find common ground with everyone, regardless of political party. …

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