Clifford Burtoft, a former Gloucester County freeholder and mayor of Washington Township, died on January 19. He was 92.
Burtoft ran for the Washington Township Committee in 1972 in a bid to end the 3-2 Democratic majority. His running mate was Daniel Mangini, who would run a competitive race for Congress 18 years later.
The Democratic incumbents, David Reed and Fred Cuccinello, were not seeking re-election. They had defeated GOP incumbents Joseph Fazzio and William Stoyko, who had won upsets in 1969 that defied the Republican landslide that swept South Jersey Rep. William T. Cahill (R-Collingswood) into the governorship.
Burtoft and Mangini faced Democrats Robert Quillen and Dotty Wagner for two open Demcoratic seats.
Mangini was the top vote-getter in the general election, while Burtoft initially led by 18 votes.
After a recount and a court fight over disputed ballots, Burtoft was declared the winner by just three votes, 3,195 to 3,192, over Quillen.
The contest gave Republicans a 3-1 majority on the local governing body.
In that same election, Washington Township voters approved a referendum to permit the sale of alcoholic beverages in the municipality by a margin of less than 50 votes.
In 1974, Burtoft became the mayor.
Burtoft won his second term in 1975 by around 600 votes running on a ticket with Mangini. They defeated Democrats Gary Engizi and Joseph Alacqua.
He and Mangini were re-elected in 1978 by over 1,000 votes against Democrats Joseph Dima and Anthony Aloise.
Burtoft ran for freeholder in 1979. He and running mate Charles Kroh ousted incumbents Patrick Damminger and Gene Costill by about 4,000 votes.
The pickup of two seats gave Republicans a 4-3 majority on the Gloucester County Board of Freeholders. It was the first GOP majority since Democrats won control in the 1973 Watergate landslide.
Burtoft lost his bid for re-election in 1982, when Greenwich Councilman Stephen Salvatore and Democratic State Committeeman Paul Orland defeated him by about 4,600 votes. That gave Democrats a 6-1 majority on the freeholder board.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Burtoft briefly attended law school and worked in the construction business before beginning a 39-year career with the General Accident Insurance Company.
Predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Betty Lou, Burtoft is survived by his children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter.
Visitation will be held today form 2:00 to 3:30 PM at the Healy Funeral Home in Haddon Heights.