Anthony Cruz, Jersey City activist, deputy mayor, department manager, dies at 61

It is with great sadness that the Cruz family announces the passing of our brother, Anthony Cruz, 61, of Jersey City on Thursday, May 26th.

Anthony’s career in public service spans four decades and is exemplary in its length and breadth. His activism began in high school when he was part of student-led protests calling for more Latino guidance counselors. As president of the Jersey City Tenants’ Union, he led a rent strike that exposed absentee landlords and sleepy landlords, forcing city officials to act. He was a fighter for social and economic justice for communities of color and small business owners in Jersey City and Hudson County.

He was a trusted government adviser and political strategist to mayors, county executives, state legislators, U.S. senators, and other political leaders across the state. He served as Deputy Mayor in the historic administration of Glenn D. Cunningham in 2001, helping breathe new life into the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District, leading an effort to restore historic clocks in the pedestrian plaza of Newark Avenue and promoting progressive programs on affordable housing and home ownership for Jersey City residents. As the city’s director of housing and economic development, he helped revitalize residential communities and commercial districts in downtown Bergen Lafayette with programs that improved home facades and small storefronts, allowing long-time residents to share in the city’s progress. He served as director of housing and economic development under two mayors of Jersey City.

A proud Puerto Rican, Anthony was part of a delegation led by Senator John Corzine, of which he was a part, that traveled to the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to draw attention to the ecologically disastrous abuses of the island by the US Army. Anthony was arrested along with other Jersey City activists protesting the use of Vieques as a bomb-testing area in 2000.

“My father’s life was historic. The number of people he directly touched in public and in private is immeasurable,” said Anthony Cruz, Jr. “We mourn his loss. His absence will be profound and difficult to bear, but we celebrate and take great pride in knowing that he was a caring, honest and humble man, a great father, uncle, brother, son and abuelo, who put his heart into serving as a d others without regard to personal distinction or financial gain. This is how we will remember him. »

Anthony is survived by his son, Anthony, Jr.; grandson, Anthony III; his longtime partner Heather Hanks and his siblings Rafael, Jose, Elizabeth, Roberto, Madeline, Jorge, David, William, Agustin, Diana and Jason, his sisters-in-law Candy and Peachy and his brothers-in-law Melvin, Blake and David as well as his mother, Isabelle.

A Go Fund Me page has been created to help pay the large medical bills incurred (

Anthony was an organ donor and the family encourages others to arrange for organ donation through the sharing network,

Visitation will be held Tuesday, May 31, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Riotto Funeral Home, 3205 JFK Boulevard, Jersey City. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Michael’s Church, 252 9th Street, Jersey City, followed by interment at Bayview Cemetery, Greenville.

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