Fred Bodner, a former Hackensack Democratic municipal chairman, died on November 29 after a long illness. He was 82.
Bodner’s political career was somewhat tried to the 26th Amendment, which lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18 during the summer of 1971.
Less than a year later, Hackensack Democrats replaced Bodner with Michael Landau, a 19-year-old Bergen Community College student who became the youngest municipal chair in New Jersey history up until that time.
In 1973, Bodner lost re-election to his own county committee seat. Donald Tepper defeated him by a vote of 17 to 10. Bodner’s wife was re-elected that year.
He became involved in politics during Eugene McCarthy’s bid for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. He later served as field coordinator of Arthur Lesemann’s campaigns for Congress against Rep. William Widnall.
Bodner had replaced Frank Longo as municipal chairman in 1970. Longo reclaimed the chair in 1973 and declined to seek re-election in 1976. That created a path for Lynne Hurwitz, a legendary Hackensack Democratic leader and Longo rival, to become municipal chairman.
As municipal chairman in 1971, Bodner was one of the first party leaders to recognize the Gay Activist Alliance as part of the party organization. Hackensack Republicans had refused to meet with the group that year.
Bodner was a political ally of Matthew Feldman, who had served as Bergen County Democratic Chairman before winning a State Senate seat in 1973.
In 1971, Bodner managed the Bergen County Democratic freeholder campaign. While his three candidates – Bennett Mazur, Robert Hollenbeck and Lucy Heller – where narrowly defeated, Mazur and Hollenbeck eventually won election to the New Jersey State Assembly.
He also led a recall effort of Hackensack municipal officials over their opposition to a rent control ordinance.