Former Bergen County Republican Chairman John F. Inganamort, a real estate developer who presided over the county GOP organization during a time of GOP domination in New Jersey’s largest county, died on November 19. He was 91.
Inganamort became involved in politics in the 1960s as an ally of Anthony J. Statile, a former Bergen GOP Chairman who led one of two factions of a deeply divided county organization that still won elections. The wars between Statile and former County Chairman Richard Vander Plaat were legendary, and serve as foundations to some of the party infighting that exists today.
As a developer, Inganamort the Mediterranean Towers apartment buildings in Fort Lee. The Upper Saddle River resident played a key role in local politics over the years as the chairman of the Fort Lee Property Owners Association.
In 1977. Inganamort and Demarest Mayor Gerald Cardinale ran for State Assembly in the 39th district.
He won the GOP primary by 346 votes against former Haworth Mayor John Johl.
Democrats had swept the 39th in the 1973 Watergate landslide, but won back one Assembly seat in 1975. The winner of that race, John Markert (R-Westwood), gave up his seat after two years to run for an open State Senate seat in 1977.
Inganamort and Cardinale lost the general election to incumbent Assemblyman Harold Martin (D-Cresskill) and his Democratic running mate, Greta Kiernan (D-Harrington Park) by more than 3,000 votes.
The following year, Inganamort was elected to the Upper Saddle River Borough Council. He resigned from the council in 1981.
Following Statile’s retirement in 1979, Inganamort ran for Bergen County GOP Chairman.
He faced former Assemblyman Harry Randall (R-Westwood) and Paramus attorney Gary Stein. (Stein would later serve as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.)
On the first ballot, Inganamort led Randall, 376 to 247, with 239 votes for Stein. He won the second ballot, 453 to 349, with 57% of Stein’s votes going to Randall.
In 1981, former Freeholder William McDowell ousted Inganamort as county chairman by six votes.
Inganamort reclaimed the chairmanship in 1982 after McDowell was elected Sheriff.
He supported a charter change referendum that created a County Executive form of government, and led Republicans in 1986 to a win in the first county executive election – he strongly supported McDowell — and a 7-0 sweep of freeholder seats.
He served as county chairman until 1989 and supported John Schepisi as his successor.
Inganamort is the great-uncle of Chester Councilman Michael Inganamort.
Funeral services will be held on December 5 in West Palm Beach, Florida.