HACKENSACK, N.J.– Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III had experience as a mayor and councilman in his Paramus hometown.
But that didn't prepare him for what was to come when he took over as the county's top elected official in January 2015.
"The demand on my time is extraordinary," he told Daily Voice. "People want to interview you, people want to see you, people want to meet with you – and then you have to run government at the same time."
On average, the 63-year-old father of three and grandfather of six works 16 to 18 hours per day.
"It's certainly not out of the realm that I could work 24 hours a day," he said.
That said, Tedesco added: "It's been a very rewarding job. I enjoy giving back."
Tedesco has been a volunteer firefighter in Paramus for 40 years and was twice elected chief. He was also assistant coordinator and deputy coordinator for the Paramus Office of Emergency Management, chairman of the Paramus Recreation Commission and a member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey.
Since taking office, Tedesco guided the consolidation of what was the county police department -- now the Bureau of Police Services -- into the Bergen County Sheriff's Office.
"One of the benefits is the coming together of the different SWAT teams in the county," he said. "They now all come together under one umbrella. They have the same training, the same equipment."
Going forward, Tedesco hopes to reach shared service agreements between the county and different municipalities.
He'd also like to make Van Saun Park a "family destination" and find a new operator for Bergen Regional Medical Center, which has only nine months left on its operating contract.
Surgery last year to treat the effects of a bone infection saved Tedesco's life.
Despite months of pain, he maintained a full schedule. Told he would have to delegate responsibility for the immediate future, he laughed.
That's because he loves what he considers the most unique county in the state.
"The people make it the county that it is," Tedesco said.
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