Local leadership runs in the DiGuiseppe family.
On the evening of Monday, Aug. 8, Ralph DiGuiseppe III, the 46-year-old son of Bristol Borough council president Ralph DiGuiseppe, was unanimously appointed to serve as mayor until the first Monday of January 2024.
His appointment comes as the borough mourns the loss of Mayor Joe Saxton, who passed away at the age of 72 on July 8. The council had 30 days to find a replacement, with council president DiGuiseppe serving as acting mayor in the meantime.
Mayor DiGuiseppe was sworn in during last week’s meeting, surrounded by loved ones as his father watched proudly from the dais.
The borough’s new leader is a proud lifelong Bristolian, father and uncle who has served as a real estate broker for 20-plus years. He’s excited for this new chapter, and understands that he has some big shoes to fill.
“When I think about Bristol and the position of mayor, I couldn’t possibly accept this position without publicly paying my respects to the late Joe Saxton,” said DiGuiseppe. “Joe epitomized what it meant to be the mayor and no one was ever more proud to hold a position in this borough than Joe. He represented this town and its residents with the utmost dignity, and I could only hope that my time spent in this position can mirror his commitment to service.”
Mayor DiGuiseppe announced his intention to provide unwavering support to the borough’s first responders, including the police force and volunteer firefighters.
He also wants to see Bristol Borough continue to up the ante and attract new visitors and residents alike. Reflecting on the early days of his real estate career, DiGuiseppe said he spent the first five years trying to convince people to move to the area. In recent years, interest has skyrocketed, with new homeowners hailing from other parts of Bucks County and Philadelphia, as well as the Princeton and Burlington areas of New Jersey.
“This was Bucks County’s hidden gem, as we call it,” he said.
DiGuiseppe hailed the council, township manager and other local leaders for helping this transformation come to fruition. He admitted that, when his father expressed interest in local politics 20 years ago, the family was hesitant about the idea, to say the least.
“At the time he was getting involved, we thought he was nuts. But looking back on it, we should all be thankful that he did, and I couldn’t be more proud to call that man my father,” said the mayor.
Just as he feels his dad worked to make Bristol a better place for the next generation, Mayor DiGuiseppe wants to do the same for his 12-year-old daughter, niece and nephew. According to him, they’re the motivation behind most things he does in life.
“At the end of the day, I believe we have to leave this place better than we inherited it, and that’s what I want to do for them,” he said.
Council president DiGuiseppe, because he was serving as acting mayor, was excluded from the vote. Though one resident urged the council during public comment to select a female or Black leader, he explained that only two applications were received, neither of which met these demographic suggestions.
Lorraine Cullen, council member representing the East Ward, made the motion for the appointment. She said of Mayor DiGuiseppe, “I think that Ralph is a great person for this job because he has done so much for our town. He knows a lot of people, he has a great personality, he’s a brilliant guy. I think that he is the best candidate and his resume showed that. He had a wonderful resume.”
The mayor expressed his gratitude for the support of the council, the meetings of which he’s been attending for two decades.
As his tenure begins, Mayor DiGuiseppe wants to keep showing the masses all that his hometown has to offer.
“I believe that everyone who lives in Bristol has a different level of pride that most townships and municipalities will never, ever experience. Whether you’re a lifelong Bristolian, or you moved into the community at some point, living in this borough is special,” he said. “It starts with the generations of families that have been here, the friendships created with your neighbors and the people on your block, and the memories that the children create in schools and competing with each other in the activities throughout the community. This is why we call Bristol Borough home, and this is the real reason why I want to serve as your mayor.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org