Carmine E. Capone, a fixture in Essex County politics and the mayor of Orange from 1976 to 1980, died on June 1. He was 92.
He launched his political career in 1967 as a candidate for a North Ward council seat against incumbent Joseph Stellato. Capone had finished second in the May election, but defeated Stellato in a runoff. In that election, John F. Monica ousted the incumbent mayor, Nicholas Franco.
After nine years as a councilman, Capone was elected mayor in 1976, defeating incumbent Joel Shain.
A month later, he mulled a run for Essex County Republican Chairman against incumbent Frederic Remington, but instead backed Irvington Councilman Joseph Galluzzi in his unsuccessful challenge.
After Essex County passed a Charter Change referendum that created a county executive form of government, Capone became the Republican candidate for District 4 freeholder in 1978.
The district was drawn with the expectation that Republicans would win it. It included solidly Republican towns in West Essex, politically competitive Livingston, the GOP stronghold of Millburn, along with Democratic towns of Orange and West Orange.
Capone’s political base as a Republican mayor of Orange made him a clear front runner to be an Essex County freeholder.
The Democratic primary to take on Capone was fierce.
Lorryne (Renee) Lane, one of the leaders of grassroots Citizens for Charter Change group, joined the ticket of Assemblyman Peter Shapiro ticket, who was running off-the-line for county executive against organization favorite John Cryan, the Essex County sheriff.
Cryan’s running mate, Dr. Francis Byrne, was the brother of then-Gov. Brendan Byrne. A third big name candidate was supposed to be in the race, but Orange Councilman Raymond Codey, the cousin of then Assemblyman Richard Codey, dropped out when Giblin withdrew.
Lane beat Byrne by 2,076 votes, 8,335 to 6,259 (54%-40%). Paolo DiFrancescatonio, a county Welfare Department employee running with Angelo, received 875 votes.
Shapiro just narrowly beat Cryan in the Democratic primary — the countywide margin was 2,497 votes, 35%-32%.
In the general election, Shapiro won by 22 points. He defeated Republican Bob Notte by big margins in Orange, West Orange and Livingston.
That helped Lane defeat Capone by 5,005 votes, 28,979 to 23,974, a 55%-45% margin.
In 1980, Shain mounted a comeback and beat Capone.
Shain, now a Democratic state committeeman from Somerset County, beat Raymond Codey by 21 votes, with Capone finishing third, 753 votes behind Codey.
Capone held a series of top appointed posts, including Essex County Administrator under County Executive Nicholas R. Amato from 1987 to 1991. He was Essex County Public Works director, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and deputy director of the state Division of Local Government Services under Gov. Tom Kean, and a member of the Essex County Board of Elections.
He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1948 as a radar operator and was awarded the World War II victory medal and the Navy Occupation medal.
The former mayor is survived by his wife, Marie, two children, and five grandchildren.