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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Honoring Alonzo Sisco, Jr.: Rutherford's First Black Councilman

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credits: The Sisco Family

The history of the Borough of Rutherford has been shaped by the many contributions of the elected officials who have been integral to the community. In the June 16, 2023 Mayor and Council Newsletter, Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson wrote about Mr. Alonzo Sisco, the Borough's first Black Councilman. Councilwoman Begg-Roberson has been working with the Sisco family to learn more about Alonzo and help share his story.

During the July 17, 2023 Council meeting, Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson read a Resolution authorizing renaming of a portion of Crane Avenue to Alonzo Sisco, Jr. Way. The street dedication and renaming will take place on Saturday, September 9th at 11 am. Alonzo Sisco's family, his widow Santa ("Sandy"), daughter Claudine, son Alzie, and daughter-in-law Catherine Sisco, attended the meeting and received a standing ovation after the resolution was read.

Councilwoman Del-Rey Cone, Councilman Guzman, Council President McGowan, Mayor Nunziato, Catherine, Alzie, Sandy, and Claudine Sisco, Councilwoman Quatrone, Councilwoman Begg-Roberson, and Councilman Cokeley

Claudine thanked the Mayor and Council for honoring her late father. She thanked Mr. Bo Ferraro and Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson for, "Illuminating her dad's legacy in Rutherford." She expressed how her father would be truly honored as he held a deep love and appreciation of Rutherford.

This is Rutherford recently interviewed Catherine Sisco (Miller) who is married to Alonzo's son, Alzie Sisco to learn more about Councilman Sisco's life, family, and contributions to Rutherford.

TIR: When did Alonzo and his family move to Rutherford?

Catherine Sisco: Alonzo was born and raised in Rutherford. His family lived first on Eastern Way and then moved to Elm street, where he resided until moving to Orient Way in 1976.

TIR: When was Alonzo a Councilman in Rutherford?

CS: Alonzo Sisco ran for NJ state assembly in 1963, losing by a small margin. He was appointed to the Council in 1978, then ran again for reelection in 1979 and won. He passed before that second term could begin.

TIR: The Borough of Rutherford has begun to honor Alonzo for his contributions as the first Black Councilman in our town. How did Alonzo give back to his community through his work as a Councilman?

CS: Alonzo worked diligently on many projects as a council member. Below are some of the highlights:

  • Secured grants for the health facility in the municipal building, the Williams Center, expanded downtown parking and for lighting at Memorial Field.

  • Municipal Improvements including improved health and police facilities, planning the first Ambulance Corps building and securing rehabilitation for the train station.

  • Enacted alternate street parking and installed bus shelters for commuters

TIR: Tragically, Alonzo passed away at a young age in 1980. What does his family hope that people remember about him?

CS: The family hopes that people remember him as a kind and charismatic man, who was consistently dedicated to improving the lives of all Rutherfordians. He was honored and proud to be Rutherford's first Black Council member.

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1 Comment

Shelley Elizabeth
Shelley Elizabeth
Nov 28, 2023

Catherine Sisco is a criminal

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