January 12, 2020

First Annual Union County Ethical Leader in Politics & Progressive Champion Awardees Announced.

Awards dinner in honor of the recipients to be held at Masker’s Barn, Watchung Reservation on First President George Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 2020.


Union County, NJ — Sunday, January 12, 2019  George Washington said of politics that his beliefs were few but that most important was “to be honest and just ourselves and to exact if from others….”

Our daily lives in New Jersey are filled with stories of politicos using their offices for personal enrichment; of wealthy robber barons manipulating a system meant to be “of, by, and for the people” to their own ends; of rampant unchecked corruption at the expense of the public. But, even with this depressing backdrop of venal corruption and malfeasance there are a few politicians who are trying to do good in a dysfunctional system.


On February 22, 2020 New Jersey Progressive Democrats of Union County will honor two ethical leaders in Union County who, despite the machine that furthers corruption, have worked within the system for the good of the people our government is supposed to represent and serve.

Ethical and honorable behavior is looked down upon by the Union County Democratic Committee and Regular Democratic Organization. Acting honorably constantly takes a back seat to retaining raw political power even when that ethical and honorable behavior is in the best interests of the public. The only way to force unethical political actors to act ethically is to honor those ethical politicians and hold unethical political actors to a higher standard.

The Honorees this year for 2019 Ethical Leader in Union County are:

The Honorable Dahlia Vertreese, Mayor Hillside, NJ.

Dahlia Vertreese, Mayor of Hillside, NJ, is a passionate labor rights champion and union organizer. In 2015 she graduated from the AFL-CIO labor candidate school and began working as a labor organizer/relations specialist for Local 68 International Union Operating Engineers. Ms. Vertreese was selected by the NJ State AFL-CIO President to serve among other leaders in the AFL-CIO Mid-Atlantic Labor Leadership Institute working toward organizational change in a 21st century economy. She worked as a labor and employment paralegal where she advocated for the rights of union laborers across the state of New Jersey. Ms. Vertreese serves on the New Jersey Labor Advisory Council and is a member of both the Union County Central Labor Council and the Essex West Hudson Labor Council. Ms. Vertreese is the proud wife of Derek Vertreese and mother to three sons.

The Honorable Carlos Cedeño, Fourth Ward Councilman, Elizabeth, NJ.

Carlos Cedeño has dedicated his entire life to serving others. Born of Cuban descent, he was born and raised in the City of Elizabeth where he currently resides and serves the community as a pastor, chaplain and elected official. He holds two Bachelor's degrees in Biblical Studies and Organizational Leadership, a diploma in Governmental Services and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Service Leadership. 

Carlos began his career as a Youth Pastor where he launched “The Bridge Youth Ministries,” a program supporting and reaching out to thousands of youth throughout Union County for over two decades. Subsequently, he became the Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Elizabeth and has been leading the congregation for the last five years. Additionally, he has served as an elected official for over seventeen years; an Elizabeth Board of Education Member for three years and as a Councilman for the last fourteen years. In both faith and political arenas, Carlos has started and currently oversees many service-oriented projects and programs for our community. In addition, Carlos has been appointed as an NJ State Police Chaplain, the organization's first Latino Chaplain in the State Police's history. He has been married to Jennifer Alves Cedeño for seventeen years and together they are committed and determined to make a difference in Elizabeth, the State of New Jersey and beyond.


Not all people who effect change in politics need to be elected officials. In fact, some of the biggest changes to politics have come from activists outside of the establishment, Angela Davis, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Kind, Jr., Malcom X, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem come to mind.

We looked for the one person in the past year in New Jersey who embodied the progressive champions of the past and search was easy.

The Honoree for 2019 Progressive Champion is:

Sue Altman, State Director, New Jersey Working Families

Sue Altman is the State Director of New Jersey Working Families. Before joining NJWF, Sue was one of the lead organizers of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. Since becoming State Director in May 2019, Sue has fought tirelessly to pass a Millionaire's tax, highlight corruption within the Economic Development Authority, and to make New Jersey more democratic to instill progressive change.


To purchase tickets for the awards dinner please go to: http://union.njprogressives.com/Awards_2020.


New Jersey Progressive Democrats of Union County (NJPD-UC) is a New Jersey non-profit organization which advocates for a progressive policy agenda and for transparency and ethics in government.

For more information, press only:

Jason Krychiw, Chair Nominations Committee
Founding Member, NJPD-UC

For more information on New Jersey Progressive Democrats of Union County:

Website: union.njprogresssives.com
Phone: 908.490.6369

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.