Home>Highlight>Anthony Amalfe, giant in Union County politics, dies at 95

Former Union County Democratic Chairman Anthony Amalfe served as a freeholder and mayor. (Photo: Jamel Holley).

Anthony Amalfe, giant in Union County politics, dies at 95

Roselle Democrat served as mayor, freeholder and county chairman

By David Wildstein, May 15 2022 4:01 pm

Anthony Amalfe, who served as a Union County freeholder, mayor of Roselle and Democratic county chairman, died on May 10.  He was 95.

He was elected mayor of Roselle in 1971 and re-elected in 1975.

Amalfe became a Democratic candidate for freeholder in 1975, running on a slate with Elizabeth City Council President Abe Rosensweig and Leda Perselay, a former welfare board caseworker from Summit whose husband, George , was the assistant county counsel.  They faced Republican incumbents Herbert Heilmann and Walter Ulrich, and Rose Marie Sinnottt, a former freeholder.

In a close general election, Sinnott was the top vote-getter with Amalfe finish second, about 300 votes behind Sinnott.  Ulrich took the third seat; he was less than 100 votes  behind Amalfe and roughly 300 votes ahead of Perselay.   That have Democrats a 7-2 majority that was politically competitive into the 1990s.

In 1977, when Gov. Brendan Byrne faced ten opponents in the Democratic primary Amalfe endorsed former Commissioner of Labor Joseph Hoffman, who quit his cabinet post to run.  Hoffman finished fifth in the primary with 10% of the vote.  In Union County, Hoffman came in third with 14%

Amalfe sought re-election to a second term on the Board of Freeholders in 1978, running on a ticket with Roselle Park Mayor Eugene Carmody and Union Planning Board Chairman Matthew Mirlocca.

Democrat Bill Bradley carried Union County by five percentage points in his U.S. Senate race that year, but Republican Rep. Matthew Rinaldo won 73% in Union County and his coattails helped Republicans win two freeholder seats and the surrogate and county register posts.

Sinnott and Edward Slomkowski, a Union Township police officer, won the first two seats – Ulrich was elected surrogate – and Carmody outpolled Amalfe by about 1,200 votes.

As a freeholder in the 1970s, Amalfe, a cigar smoker, played a leading role in banning smoking at public meetings.

Amalfe returned in 1981 to run for Union County Democratic Chairman.  He unseated the incumbent, Dennis Estis.

Among his protégés was Gerald Green, who began his involvement in government in 1975 as Amalfe’s pick for a Roselle Planning Board seat.  After moving to Plainfield, Green became a freeholder, assemblyman and Union County Democratic Chairman.

Amalfe held the county chairman post until 1989.

He returned to a party leadership post briefly in 1999 to become vice chair under Charlotte DeFilippo, the county chair.  Amalfe served as president of the Union County Board of Taxation.

Amalfe was born in Elizabeth in 1927, the son of two immigrants born in Sicily.  He became involved in his family business, Amalfe Brothers Auto Repair in Elizabeth, and later as the owner of AB&S Warehouse, also in Elizabeth.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Jennie, his son, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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