Diverse Voices: Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci Touts City’s Rich Diversity as Strength


Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

VINELAND Mayor Anthony Fanucci said that diversity is an important element that makes his city special.

As the city showcases arguably the state’s largest celebration of the Puerto Rican culture this week with the Festival Puertorriqueño de Vineland, the two-term mayor said sharing its many heritages is one of the things that the city does best.

“Myself and my administration have always focused on the diversity of our city,” Fanucci said. “Our diversity is our greatest strength in Vineland. We have so many different cultures here, whether its ethnic cultures, religious cultures, we embrace it all. That’s extremely important in my opinion.”

Fanucci said the flag raisings at City Hall hold special meaning for him.

Mayor Anthony Fanucci speaks at City of Vineland Juneteenth Celebration on June 19, 2023. Photo by Meredith Winner, Mer-Made Photography.

“I have a lot of diversity in my own family,” Fanucci said. “So having that background, the flag raisings ring a special bell for me. … We fly our American flag proudly, but we fly the Puerto Rican flag, we fly the Jamaican flag, we fly the Irish flag, the Polish flag, the Italian flag. It’s just what we’re supposed to do. We have people from everywhere, and they should be acknowledged and honored.”

While Fanucci is a Republican, one of just five running New Jersey’s top 25 municipalities, his winning slate of city council running mates showed his commitment to diversity. It included Dr. Elizabeth Arthur, who became the first African American to serve as council president, Latinos David Acosta and Albert Vargas and Caucasians Ron Franceschini and Paul Spinelli.

“[Arthur] is very well educated and an extremely bright woman. She has a great background in technology, education and accounting,” Fanucci said. “She’s got a great mindset for that. Councilman Acosta is our vice president, who has worked in government his entire life served on the Board of Education and has a great grasp on things.

“Councilman Vargas came from law enforcement, Councilman Franceschini came from a healthcare background and Councilman Spinelli was a lifelong educator. So, we wanted to touch on the community in different ways and people can see we have a great cross section, and then their experience goes a long way.”

While having a cleaner city is high on Fanucci’s priority list for Vineland, the mayor said he wants a city where people believe they can thrive in, especially young people.

“We want to try to alleviate that brain drain where we lose our youth because there’s not enough opportunity here for them to continue advancing their education in our area or they can’t get the jobs that pay enough,” Fanucci said.

“So, we want to continue to increase the opportunities for our youth to be here and for those that have left to get their education somewhere else, come back to have the opportunity to work here because truly they are our future. They are going to be the key to the success of the community.”

He said while the city still has much to do, the evidence of what has already been done is all around.

“I’m proud of the job that we’ve done, looking at where we’ve come from and where we are now,” Fanucci said. “We want to continue to thrive with the right businesses to be developed here; long term sustainable businesses that can be great contributors to the community and also obviously helped the property tax rolls here to give some relief.

“We’re very proud of the fact that the municipal tax rate in the city of Vineland is one of the lowest around and many people don’t realize how important that is to have for economic growth. The city runs itself on about 32 cents on $1. So, we are trying to offer more and more every day, even though our resources are financially somewhat limited.”

That’s a lot when the city administration has to cover a whopping 69 square miles within the Vineland city limits, more than any other city in New Jersey.

Fanucci pointed to various activities being done around the city, with the help of Sheena Santiago as special events coordinator. He said Santiago is one of those unsung heroes he cannot do without. The City of Vineland hosted a parade for native and Super Bowl champion Isiah Pacheco, the starting running back for the Kansas City Chiefs in April.

The city hosted its first Juneteenth celebration and music festival on the steps of City Hall in June. Fanucci said his administration will be doing more of that type of programming to improve the quality of life in Vineland.

The mayor concluded that he believes the best if ahead of the City of Vineland and he believes with the richness of its diversity, it will continue to grow and stand out.

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