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Former Franklin Mayor Frank Pedulla. (Photo: Rone Funeral Home).

Frank Pedulla, ex-mayor who won first local election 68 years ago, dies at 93

Gloucester County Democrat won open seat in 1954, ran with Meyner in 1957, JFK in 1960

By David Wildstein, March 02 2022 3:41 pm

Frank Pedulla, Jr., a Korean War veteran who was 26-years-old when he was elected to the Franklin Township Committee in Gloucester County in 1954, died on February 25.  He was 93.

Pedulla was likely among the last living New Jerseyans who ran for office in President Dwight Eisenhower’s first mid-term election nearly 68 years ago.   During his eight years in local government, Pedulla played a leading role in expanding Franklin’s recreation department.

An opportunity for Pedulla to run for local office came after another Democrat, James Parave, declined to seek re-election.  He defeated Republican Joseph Cairone by about 100 votes, 52%-48%.

Pedulla ran on a ticket headed by Rep. Charles Howell (D-Trenton).  Howell was seeking an open U.S. Senate seat and lost to former Rep. Clifford Case (R-Rahway) by 3,370 votes statewide, 48.7%-48.5%.

In 1956, Pedulla became the youngest mayor in the state.  He served as mayor until 1961.

He was re-elected to the township committee in 1957, making him among the last surviving Democrats to have run on a ticket with Gov. Robert B. Meyner.  Pedulla was the top vote-getter, running about 200 votes ahead of Republican Joseph Minotty, a former Gloucester County Freeholder.  Minotty won the second seat by about 30 votes over Democrat Ernest Goldsmith, with Republican Francis Ciancaglini, the president of the Malaga Fire Company, finishing fourth, about 400 votes Pedulla.

In his bid for a third term in 1960, Pedulla ran on a Democratic ticket headed by presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.  He was again the top vote-getter, running about 100 votes ahead of Republican Albert Manton, Jr., who ran for township committee following Minotty’s election to the New Jersey State Assembly.  Pedulla finished around 150 votes ahead of Republican Astor Giovinazzi.

The race was particularly close, considering that Kennedy and running mate Lyndon Johnson won Franklin by about 500 votes.

Pedulla’s time as mayor came to an end after Republicans took a 4-1 majority on the Franklin Township Committee in 1962.   He did not seek re-election in 1963.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Pedulla and his brothers launched the Asphalt Paving Corporation.   He remained active in the community as a volunteer firefighter and members of the Elks and Knights of Columbus.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Mary, his nephew, John Gravenor, who runs the family paving business, and his niece, Renee.

Visitation will be held on March 3 from 9-11 AM at the Out Lady of the Blesses Sacrament Church of St. Michael in Newfield, followed by an 11:30 AM funeral mass.

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