Bill Hodas, a Democrat who served as mayor of Franklin in Sussex County for sixteen years and held appointed state posts under five governors, died on May 28. He was 92.
Hodas was also one of the longest-serving municipal chairs in New Jersey. He was elected to head the Franklin Democratic organization in 1976 and served there until his death.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) praised Hodas’ commitment to public service.
He began his political career in 1961 when he won a seat on the Franklin borough council, where he served with Republican Robert Littell. Littell won a State Assembly seat in 1967, moved up to the Senate in 1990, and served 40 years in the New Jersey Legislature.
Hodas was elected mayor in 1967 and re-elected in 1971 and 1975. He left in 1979 but returned in 1983 to serve one more term as mayor.
An ally of Joseph Keslo, a former freeholder and Sussex Democratic county chairman, Hodas was a supporter of Rep. Robert Roe (D-Wayne) when he challenged incumbent Brendan Byrne in the 1977 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
In 1979, Byrne appointed Hodas to serve as a commissioner of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. He was not reappointed by Gov. Tom Kean but returned to the post in 2003 when Gov. James McGreevey nominated him again. Hodas was retained by governors Richard Codey, Jon Corzine and Chris Christie before retiring in 2014.
“Bill’s family, and our community, suffered a big loss this week. Bill Hodas was a dedicated public servant in Franklin — and New Jersey — who always put our people first,” said Gottheimer. “As the state’s longest serving commissioner of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, he committed so much time and energy to ideas and issues that affected and improved the lives of so many. He will be dearly missed, and his legacy will live on in our community for generations to come.”
Hodas served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and spent 41 years working at Selective Insurance in Branchville, retiring as a vice president in 1991.
Visitation will be held form 2-6 PM on Sunday at the F. John Ramsey Funeral Home in Franklin. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 AM Monday at Immaculate Conception Church in Franklin.