James Failace, who served as mayor of Carteret from 1999 to 2003, died on January 2. He was 74.
Failace began his political career in 1995 when he won a seat on the Carteret council as a Democrat. He defeated Republicans Ronald Pusillo, who had served four terms on the school board, and Beverly Hatala-Hedesh, the wife of the borough attorney.
He was elected mayor in 1998 following the retirement of four-term GOP Mayor Peter J. Sica.
Failace and Sica were staunch rivals in the 1990s and Failace entered the race for mayor before Sica announced he would not run again.
He defeated Republican Deborah Bialowarczuk by about 750 votes, 55%-45%.
After battling with his fellow Democrats, Failace switched parties and sought re-election in 2002 as a Democrat. He was defeated by Daniel Reiman, a 26-year-old Democratic councilman.
Failace lost by 623 votes.
In 2003, Failace ran for councilman as a Republican and lost by 1,200 votes.
Failace was a Vietnam war veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who represents Carteret in the legislature, called Failace “a dedicated public servant, loving family man and a close personal friend.”
“I had the distinct privilege of working with Jim serving as his Borough attorney during his tenure as Mayor,” Coughlin said. “Jim’s tireless commitment to the residents of Carteret, first as a Councilman and later Mayor was inspiring. Jim was a man of true class, dignity and honor. I’m better for having him as my friend.”